Bami Express, Tg Pagar: “Red-hot banh mi store with drawn-out queues”

When it comes to banh mi, Singapore actually has quite a healthy stable of hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese eateries that specialise in it. It’s not hard to chance upon a dingy little place and go in and get a really solid slice of Vietnamese flavours. But if there’s any place that banh mi lovers have to pay a visit to in Singapore, it’s Bami Express down at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, which attracts the most monstrous of queues on a daily basis.

Bami Express store

Yours truly made the mistake of heading down during lunchtime on a Saturday and had to soldier through an excruciating 45-minute wait before the brackets of banh mi hit our table—it seemed like half of Singapore was jostling with me for a piece of their signature Vietnamese sandwiches.

It’s a small, homely shop on the second floor of the plaza, and you can easily spot Bami Express from the snaking line of people expectantly waiting in line.

rolls of baguettes

With an exceedingly limited amount of seats outside, you should sprint for any vacant tables you see, or it might be easier to take away and enjoy your sandwiches on a bench at the relaxing Duxton park nearby.

What I tried

A good sign at a banh mi place in Singapore is when you spot a rack of freshly baked baguettes. Bami Express displays their fresh bakes proudly, that’s how you know you’re getting the perfect banh mi experience.

Naturally, we had to get the most stripped-down and classic of flavour combinations to get a better gauge of where Bami Express stood in comparison with other authentic joints scattered around Singapore. So we got the Bami Sai Gon (S$5) with pâté, pork ham, stew pork, and chicken floss.

cross-section of banh mi

The first thing we noticed as we unravelled the parcels of sandwiches was the glut of filling stuffed into the thick rotund tubes of baguette. Each sandwich was engorged and stuffed to the brim with a myriad of fresh ingredients.

We have to say, Bami Express’s take on the classic is perhaps as good as any banh mi joint in Singapore. Maybe a notch behind my favourite at Cô Hai Bánh Mì at Beach Road but each bite gave an immensely satisfying mix of baguette crackle, juicy vegetable crunch, and tender pork.

One rather peculiar twist was the inclusion of tangy chilli sauce instead of sliced chilli which is more commonly seen at most banh mi places. While unorthodox, it provided the same kiss of heat while providing a nice splash of moisture to the ensemble of meat which sometimes could be a bit dry.

cross-section of banh mi smoked duck

Of my three orders at Bami Express, my surprise favourite was actually the Bami Smoked Duck (S$6). Its smoke-grill duck tastes pretty run-of-the-mill but it just made so much sense in the context of a banh mi, with the crispy baguette and array of crunchy vegetables and spices.

Quite the satisfying hit of flavours, even if the meat is a tad chewy but the bite of the vegetables provided a nice counterpoint to the meaty chew.

cross-section of banh mi bbq chicken

On the other hand, if you prefer a stronger spice presence in your banh mi, Bami Express’ Bami BBQ Chicken (S$5) boasted of a heady lemongrass perfume permeating throughout the sandwich.

While the chunks of chicken were sufficiently juicy, they didn’t quite compare to the ham. All things considered, a rather decent option but I wouldn’t pick it over the most timeless ensemble of ham and pâté in the Bami Sai Gon.

Final thoughts

I can see why Bami Express has garnered the overwhelming public fanfare it has gotten. Prices are super affordable, the bread is freshly made and sinfully crispy, and everything is just made very comforting and homely. You can’t really many places serving great authentic banh mi at this price range save for a few places like Banh Mi Thit at Geylang.

baskets of banh mi

But therein lies my greatest issue with this hole-in-the-wall that’s possibly the most red-hot banh mi store in Singapore right now with drawn-out queues, and quite honestly an intolerable mess when you find yourself seatless and getting incessantly belted by our ever-raging sun rays.

Is Bami Express good? Yes, it’s definitely one of the better—perhaps even best—banh mi in Singapore. But if I had to queue more than 15 minutes for it, I’d rather head to Banh Mi Thit or somewhere else where I can get equally affordable sandwiches without enduring the tortures of queueing.

Expected damage: S$5 – S$6 per pax

Other articles you might like:

Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh, Beauty World: “Perfect smokey fried porridge, even if herbal Bak Kut Teh was unsatiating”

New in town: Hello Arigato, Upper Thomson Rd — “It always starts with a simple hello”

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Bami Express

Blk 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-02 , Singapore 082001

Our Rating 4/5

Bami Express

Blk 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-02 , Singapore 082001

Telephone: +65 6443 3079
Operating Hours: 8am - 5pm (Mon to Fri), 8am - 3pm (Sat), Closed on Sun
Telephone: +65 6443 3079

Operating Hours: 8am - 5pm (Mon to Fri), 8am - 3pm (Sat), Closed on Sun