KL has an assortment of Vietnamese restaurants serving noodle dishes like pho and bun but I wanted to see if I could find some banh mi instead. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich made with a baguette, spread with mayo and butter then filled with your choice of meats, topped with strips of pickled daikon and carrot then lightly drizzled with a savory sauce. It’s one of those foods (like Mexican) that we dearly miss here in Malaysia.
Vegetarian Banh Mi from Quick Bites, Solaris Dutamas
Quick Bites is located inside a small space on the Upper Ground floor of the Publika Shopping Centre at Solaris Dutamas, a newer high-end mall in a well-heeled part of KL. It faces the Korean noodle stall, a few storefronts down from the E.A.T Food Village, on the opposite end from Ben’s Independent Grocer. The decor is simple and clean, nicely lit and laid out.
Quick Bites Storefront and Counter
There are only a few menu items to choose from. Unlike the banh mi shops in the US which feature porky products like pâté, char siew or chả lụa (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Roll), this shop is halal – essentially meaning no pork products allowed. You can get your choice of chicken, lemongrass chicken, beef meatballs, or “garden” (tofu) banh mi, or you can order some spring or summer rolls. Drinks are limited to peach iced tea, fresh soy milk, Vietnamese coffee, soda or water.
Quick Bites Menu
The very helpful staff person told us that the lemongrass chicken was their most popular sandwich, followed by the beef meatball. So we ordered those two (on whole meal baguettes) in sets with soy milk, plus a couple of summer rolls. The great thing about this place is that they bake their own baguettes on site. They also build the sandwiches using fresh ingredients, including jalapeno peppers.
Quick Bites Banh Mi Building
The proof of the banh mi is in the eating, though, and we were eagerly anticipating that first bite.
Quick Bites Banh Mi
Banh Mi Brings Me Back Home
The first bite told us that this was a legitimate banh mi. The baguette had that perfect crispy, crackly crust with a soft, chewy crumb. The meat fillings were nicely complimented by the vegetables, with the savory sauce adding another layer of flavor. We were transported back home to San Jose in that one bite.
Do you like banh mi? Tell us where your favorite shop is!
We got to talking a little bit with Bryan, the Director of the shop. He’s actually a Vietnamese American from San Francisco, where his family runs two other Vietnamese sandwich shops. He had just recently moved with his Chinese Malaysian wife back to KL and decided to open a Quick Bites outlet here.
Bryan is the one responsible for baking the amazing and authentic baguette himself, since no other bakeries in KL can do baguettes as well. He is committed to making a banh mi just like home, despite the added cost of the ingredients here. One of the things he bemoans is that he can’t use pâté in his banh mi due to the halal status of his shop.
“Some of my customers want me to open a non-halal shop so that I can make sandwiches with pâté and char siew. We’ll have to see,” he says.
Back for More
We devoured our banh mi and felt quite satisfied. In fact, even more satisfied than our meal at Fresca Mexican Kitchen, which was way more expensive. After walking around Ben’s Independent Grocer for a while, we went back to Quick Bites to pick up another sandwich, this time a vegetarian one, to take home. While we waited for them to build the sandwich, I ordered up a Vietnamese iced coffee.
I love that dark bitterness of the coffee, blended with the creamy sweetness of condensed milk!
Quick Bites Vietnamese Coffee
How Does Quick Bites Rate?
I’m giving it a rating ofstars out of 5.
The summer rolls, unfortunately, did not impress. I think it was missing ingredients like shiso which took away from the flavor. As for the banh mi and the coffee, these were definitely very good and close to home. The sandwiches and coffee, plus the cheerful and helpful staff added to our experience. I would return again and recommend it to others.
Lot 22, Level UG1, Publika Mall
Jalan Dutamas 1, Solaris Dutamas