263 Chapel Street, Prahran
I’ve been putting off a visit to N. Tran for sometime because by comparison to other places around Melbourne, it is so expensive. I mean, I guess I got to give them slack, it’s a pricey part of Chapel Street and the rent must be high. And looking at other cafes, $7.00 isn’t that bad at all. Inflation works in curious ways I don’t yet understand. Once you’ve tasted a $3.80 banh mi it is hard not to get carried away with the amazing value for money. Being a student in one of the world’s most expensive cities, I can’t simply divorce my enjoyment of food and its cost.
Many people go to N. Tran (note: they’ve since opened a second store not far away on Toorak Road) because their salad rolls are definitely solid. When ordering make sure to ask for Vietnamese salad because the default option comes with beetroot and tomato. Not at all what I want when I want banh mi. They charge an extra 30 cents for coriander which is pretty stiff for such a staple ingredient. The bread that the front window claims they are known for excels at N. Tran. It is a sesame seed roll, perhaps not traditional, but certainly appropriate and in fact one of the best I’ve had in Melbourne. The BBQ chicken, salad and dressing all works well without reaching the benchmark set by the bread. Maggi sauce makes it too salty here. Directly across the road is a fast-food franchise whose storefront sadly reflects onto this reliable banh mi spot.