220 Smith St, Collingwood
Filling: 4.5/5 (BBQ Pork)
I was of the belief that Nguyen’s bakery was invincible, at least in Melbourne. But then I went back to N.Lee in Collingwood, a visit that was long overdue. I can firmly state that the throne has been overthrown.
It is not even slightly a coincidence that N.Lee bakery has built up the popularity and reputation it has. You would be hard-pressed to find a single customer who wasn’t impressed by their visit to the joint. N.Lee attracts a diverse range of bánh mì consumers, both locals and far away commuters. When you walk through the glass opening of the shopfront, you can instantly get a sense of their success. The interior is super clean with a modern design and the many staff handling the filing crowds are really friendly and helpful. And then the bánh mì… Wow!
There is a huge amount of ingredients to fill your roll, but I strongly recommend the grilled pork. Usually at bakeries that serve hot pork bánh mì, the meat is kept in a bain-marie, however at N.Lee cold pork from the deli fridge is lightly grilled on the BBQ. This does mean it takes substantially longer (not to mention the wait to be served) than other bakeries, but the beneficial and fresh method of preparing makes the extra time absolutely worth it – the result is quite simply awesome. Complimenting this is the salad and dressings. The amount of lettuce and carrot is perfectly balanced and the dressing works in pure harmony with the meat – not overpowering but not too light on. Lastly there is the bread roll which isn’t completely torpedo shaped, but with its crunchiness, freshness, size and heat, who cares. I was so in love with the meal I was bolting down, that when I had finished, I clinged onto the bag and licked the juices and any fallen bits of goodness off the paper – disgusting I know. The beautiful taste that lingered in my mouth comforted me all the way home.