Wear sunscreen and comfy shoes this weekend, as there’s another lockdown queue to join.
We’re anticipating a lengthy one outside Edinburgh’s new restaurant, Bad Karma (formerly burger joint Dirty), at 130 Duke Street, where the Banh Mi Brothers are serving their wares on Saturday and Sunday, from 11am until 2pm (or until they sell out).
On this street, people have also been lining up for the weekly pop-up at nearby bar, Nauticus, at number 142. (And there’s Bundits, round the corner on Commercial Street, which has created a similar stir for their bao buns).
This duo behind the newest street food business aren’t real siblings, but entrepreneurial university pals, Jack Kelly, 26, originally from Aberdour, and Oscar Brooks, 25, from York. They decided to ditch their planned careers in engineering and translation, in order to pursue a career in hospitality.
“It was Jack who first encountered the concept of a banh mi as they are very popular in Australia, where he spent two years, “ says Oscar. “It was his go-to food of choice. As we started experimenting, we realised that we'd hit the nail on the head, as banh mi are so versatile and work with a variety of flavour profiles, meaning the scope for the future is vast”.
For those not au fait with the banh mi, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich - a short baguette stuffed with various ingredients, usually pate, ham, pickles, chillies and coriander. There aren’t many places in the capital that offer them, apart from Vietnamese restaurant, Sen, which opened recently on West Nicholson Street.
This weekend, the Banh Mi Brothers will be serving versions filled with Korean fried chicken, char sui pork, or crispy tofu, all with pickled veg, coriander, pate and chillies. They are huge, and look like a two-handed affair, rather than a delicate cucumber number with the crusts cut off. They’ve sourced their bread - “we searched long and hard”, they say - from Edinburgh business, Le Petit Francais.
If you don’t want those options in a ginormous sanger, they’re also doing vermicelli rice noodle bowls, topped by the same options, and there are sides of Korean fried chicken or cauliflower.
“Our signature dish is our Korean fried chicken,” says Oscar. “You can´t go wrong with fried chicken and this dish is becoming very popular. Not to blow our own trumpet but we think we have the perfect sauce recipe”.
As late additions to Edinburgh’s lockdown pop-up scene, they already have big plans and ideas for new menu items.
“We have a few pop-ups in the pipeline with a potential permanent location in the centre of the city”, says Oscar. “We also have ideas for a shrimp po boy inspired banh mi and we have a connection with The Buffalo Farm in Fife, so we could use their produce. Because of this sandwich’s versatility, we are very much looking forward to more experimentation and taking advantage of the amazing produce we have here in Scotland”.
Follow them on Instagram @banh_mi_brothers