Pork Banh Mi sandwich with pickled veggies and cilantro from BiddoBanh in Biddeford, along with Thai bubble tea. Photo by Tim Cebula

BIDDEFORD — In a restaurant-rich town like this, a venue specializing almost exclusively in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches makes perfect sense.

It’s a narrow niche, one that might not be well received or supported in other communities of its size. But when BiddoBanh opened quietly in October, it didn’t take long before it amassed dozens of rave online reviews.

Located next to Fish & Whistle at 299 Main St., BiddoBanh moved into the space of a former antiques store. The new occupants pulled up old carpeting and renovated the small space to feel bright and airy.

There are only two small, four-top dining tables inside, along with some soft seating arranged around a coffee table. But BiddoBanh is a sandwich shop with counter service, no doubt filling plenty of to-go orders, so the dining room’s potential capacity isn’t a make-or-break issue.

I visited midafternoon on a recent Wednesday. The streamlined menu has five kinds of banh mi, including a vegetarian tofu option, along with four rice bowls that feature the fillings from the sandwiches, and a variety of bubble teas, or boba.

I ordered two banh mi to go, the pork and the lemongrass beef, each $12.50, along with a Thai bubble tea ($6.50). There were no other customers at the time, and the two friendly women behind the counter took my order and served the food within 10 minutes.


While I waited, they told me they sourced their bread from a Vietnamese bakery in the Boston area, where they get it fresh multiple times a week. Their commitment to using the right bread gave me comfort, because a successful sandwich is all about quality components and proper proportions.

When banh mi sandwiches first originated during the 19th-century French colonial occupation of Vietnam, French baguettes were the original banh mi vessel. But by the time the sandwich made its way to the West in the later 20th century, it had evolved into a mix of sliced meat (often pork) with pickled veggies and herbs inside a small, baguette-style roll that had a lighter, crispier texture than standard baguettes.

The 8-inch rolls on the BiddoBanh sandwiches have a light, fluffy crumb with thin, crackling crust, the gold standard for banh mi bread texture. While butter or mayo is often spread inside banh mi bread to keep the sandwich moist, BiddoBanh uses what it calls “butter mayo,” which is a house-made emulsion of oil and egg yolks, along with a little condensed milk for a hint of sweetness.

The bread also has the traditional thin layer of pâté spread over the butter mayo, which boosts the umami meatiness in every bite. Both the beef and pork sandwiches had plenty of the tender featured sliced meats – lemongrass-marinated top sirloin and Boston pork butt marinated in soy and ginger.

The generous sandwich fillings also featured plenty of pickled vegetables like julienned carrot, daikon radish strips and long, thin planks of English cucumber, which give banh mi their delectable crunch. The veggies were just tangy enough to balance the umami-laden savoriness of the meat and the faint sweetness from the butter mayo.

The sandwiches were also topped with plenty of fresh cilantro sprigs, lending welcome herbal brightness to the dish. They’ll add fresh slices of jalapeño on request, or you can get them on the side to deploy strategically yourself.

My Thai bubble tea was sweet enough to feel like a treat at the end of the meal, but not cloyingly sugary as some boba can seem.

For the price, my BiddoBanh meal was a very good value. One well-stuffed sandwich was enough to make me feel quite satisfied, but not overfull.

BiddoBanh makes thoughtfully and carefully composed sandwiches at approachable price points. And well-crafted, affordable specialties are just what a new restaurant needs to fit in around Biddeford these days.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.