Giòn Giòn – The Bánh Mì Bar: Authentic Vietnamese store with RARE Betel Leaves Bánh Mì

What’s the first dish that springs to mind when you think about Vietnamese cuisine? Many will say Phở, but it’s Bánh Mì for me.

The traditional Vietnamese dish is something that I have always wanted to try. So imagine my surprise when I saw a reader-recommended store that sold authentic bánh mì! Say xin chào to Giòn Giòn – The Bánh Mì Bar at One Raffles Place.

Gion Gion - Storefront

Founded by Peter and his Vietnamese wife, Giòn Giòn describes its Bánh Mì as “a culinary legacy that has been passed down through generations”. That does sound promising.

If you were wondering, the store’s name Giòn Giòn means “VERY CRISPY” in Vietnamese. Seeing that the store focuses on bánh mì’s iconic baguette, the bread lover in me was beyond excited to give this shot.

What I tried at Giòn Giòn – The Bánh Mì Bar

To those who are working at CBD (Central Business District), how on earth do you manage to get lunch everyday? I am already getting the shivers from thinking about the unrelenting crowd.

Gasping for air, I remember feeling so overstimulated and desperate to find refuge somewhere else. My answer was at Giòn Giòn.

Paying homage to their Vietnamese roots, the store’s vibrant interior was decorated with ceiling lanterns and vintage posters. Their storefront display also closely resembled a food pushcart that is common on Vietnam’s bustling streets!

Gion Gion - Interior

Although Giòn Giòn has a small counter that acts as a standing bar, most customers prefer takeaway orders instead. I mean…I could see why. Due to the counter’s proximity to the mall’s walkway, you are bound to meet kaypoh passersby gawking at your food.

That didn’t stop me anyway.

I actually wanted to try either their Signature Bánh Mì Chicken (S$9.90) or Signature Bánh Mì Beef (S$9.90), but I naively decided to follow Peter’s recommendation of Signature Bánh Mì Minced Meat with Betel Leaves (S$9.90) instead.

Enticed by the Giòn Giòn’s tempting sides, I also got a share of Spring Rolls (S$2.70 per piece) in 2 fillings — Prawn and Mushroom & Tofu.

Craving for some caffeine? You can help yourself to free cups of Vietnamese drip coffee while waiting for your order too.

Unlike the kopi that we have in Singapore, this fragrant coffee tasted nutty with notes of vanilla bean sweetness. Needless to say, I had a third cup because it was so addictive (paiseh to those after me, the dispenser was almost empty).

Furthermore, their open kitchen concept allows customers to watch the step-by-step preparation of their food. From arranging the generous array of ingredients and toppings to heating up the baguette, I enjoyed seeing my Bánh Mì come together.

Wait, what is this?

Gion Gion - Minced Beef Wrapped with Betel Leaves

Curiosity got the better of me when I looked up “betel leaf Singapore.”

I was stunned. Here’s what I found: When betel leaves are chewed together with betel nuts and slaked lime, it releases a narcotic substance that has stimulating properties. Thankfully, eating the betel leaf by itself is completely harmless.

Phew. The “Minced Meat with Betel Leaves” is also referred to as a popular Southern Vietnamese snack called Bò Nướng Lá Lốt!

Bánh Appétit.

It wasn’t as bad as I expected. The peppery cigar-rolled herbaceous leaf was a sublime mix to the flavourful and juicy meat encased within. Drizzled with freshly crushed chilli, the Signature Bánh Mì Minced Meat with Betel Leaves also features coriander, julienne cucumber, carrots and pickle, as well as Giòn Giòn’s ‘family heirloom’ sauce that is passed down from Peter’s mother-in-law.

Gion Gion - Spread of Ingredients

Creamy in texture, the savoury and rich pâté spread was my personal favourite as it certainly elevated this bánh mì to a whole new level. Not forgetting the star of this dish, the baguette maintained a crispy crust that sturdily held the overflowing ingredients together.

While the complex bò nướng lá lốt is perfect for adventurous eaters, it was not my cup of tea. I am eyeing to try their Signature Bánh Mì Pork (S$9.90) next though!

Moving on to the Spring Rolls.

Wrapped in delicate bánh tráng (rice paper), both spring rolls were loaded with springy bún (rice vermicelli), coriander, chives and basil which were overpoweringly tangy when eaten together.

Gion Gion - Signature Spring Roll

As for its proteins, the prawns were fresh and juicy but the mushrooms and tofu were disappointingly, a tad dry.

There was a saving grace.

Once dipped in fish sauce, the spring rolls transformed into an umami-filled roll which packed a punch!

Final Thoughts

Giòn Giòn is definitely for those with a penchant for unique favours.

Aside from their Signature Bánh Mì and Spring Rolls, the authentic Vietnamese store also offers Noodle Salad (S$9.90) with your choice of protein.

Gion Gion - DIY Meat Ball Banh Mi

What’s more, they also provide DIY Bánh Mì (S$12.90) for customers to personalise their bánh mì according to their preferences. You can choose a maximum of 5 Veggies and 3 Mains from their variety of choices. Worth it?

Having lived in Vietnam for a while, I now have a better perspective of what Vietnamese cuisine has to offer.

Expected damage: S$4.90 to S$12.90 per pax

Hi Bánh Mì: Hidden gem in Geylang with $4 banh mi & rustic vibes that remind you of Vietnam

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 3.5 / 5

Giòn Giòn - The Banh Mi Bar

1 Raffles Pl, One Raffles Place Tower 1, #B1-08, Singapore 048616

Our Rating 3.5/5

Giòn Giòn - The Banh Mi Bar

1 Raffles Pl, One Raffles Place Tower 1, #B1-08, Singapore 048616

Telephone: +65 8015 2159
Operating Hours: 10am - 8pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
Telephone: +65 8015 2159

Operating Hours: 10am - 8pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
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