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BMNC – Banh Mi and Noodle Co

Address: 42 Halpin Way, Dandenong VIC 3175

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From a conversation with Michael that has been edited.

I used to work for a not for profit organisation down the road.

It bothered me that there weren’t any places that made delicious Vietnamese food and coffee in Dandenong. I have always had a strong interest in cooking, and a good friend - Raymond Phan of Fob Rolls and Hochi Mama* - encouraged me to give this restaurant a shot.

I started Banh Mi Noodle & Co with my wife Rumi, who was working as an early child care educator, and had experience working in hospitality. For the first three months it was pretty quiet, and having a baby while establishing the restaurant wasn’t easy. But I really wanted a restaurant that made food similar to how I would like to eat it at home.

BMNC

I’ve added some tweaks, a bit of a fusion style and modern flavours – for example, using Sriracha mayo, crispy tofu and chicken cooked on a char-grill – and, through word of mouth, it has become busier over time.

Hopefully that’s due to the fact that our food is fast, fresh and has a nice balance of flavours.

I grew up eating Vietnamese food quite frequently.

I was raised in Springvale and - during high school - we’d eat out a bit, and I’d get a lot of inspiration from that. There’s a big Southeast Asian community in Springvale, and there are a lot more Vietnamese food options around there compared to Dandenong.

I think the baguettes that we sell are prevalent throughout all of Vietnam, but our style of noodle bowls reflects more of what people eat in South Vietnam.

And, for people who are coming in for the first time, I’d recommend the chicken and the pork baguettes. The chicken is really special because it’s from the char-grill, so you get this really wonderful smoky flavour, and our pork is roasted for 5-6 hours, making it really nice. Our pork, beef and chicken noodle bowls are delicious as well.

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The food has remained the same since we opened, but we’ve refined the way that we make it.

We are mindful of the fact that people have 30-45 minutes for lunch, so we have tried to streamline our service.

Our staff are always finding new ways to make things more efficiently. We have monthly specials – different soups, coleslaws and so on – but our focus is getting high quality and delicious dishes out for the crazy lunch rush.

Cooking has become a business, but it’s still a passion of mine. I’m trying to do what I enjoy so I don’t have to work. But I still have to work pretty hard.

I started BMNC in Dandenong because I was familiar with the area, and I thought that our food would go well here.

But Dandenong is changing a lot. There’s so much going on, and new businesses are popping up all the time.

I’m really grateful for our excellent staff, local business owners – such as Gavin from Feen Cafe – who have advised and supported us, and everyone who has checked us out. I don’t think we would have survived our first year without the support of the Dandenong community.

I can see where I wanted to be when I envisioned BMNC two years ago. We’re almost there, but I think the morning trade needs a bit of work. We have great breakfast options – like egg and bacon rolls, salad rolls & pastries - and we use the roaster Seven Seeds with Jersey milk for our coffee.

People see us as more of a food place, but we’ve tried to make our coffee a bit more obvious by placing the machine in a prominent area. Our biggest challenge is getting people from the train station to us. It’s hard, but we’re working on it.

There are a few local suppliers that we use, and we get ingredients from the Dandenong market on market days.

Our mission statement is that fresh is best, and we try to use excellent ingredients to ensure that people are satisfied with our product. Rumi and I have sacrificed a lot over the years, and we have put our previous careers on hold to make BMNC work.

Starting a business has definitely been a new experience, but we both enjoy working with people. And I’d still recommend taking the risk. If you have an itch to open a shop, it might be worthwhile.

*Keep your eyes peeled for Fob Rolls 2.0!

BMNC