Mrs Luu’s is a place I’d heard about a while ago. There had been raves about their rice paper rolls and banh mi at the Milton store over a year ago. The obstacle to getting the food there, and at the newer outlet in Bowen Hills too, is that they open only on weekdays and only in daylight hours. The closing at 3pm means that unless you work locally or have a luxuriously long lunch break, your chances of ever getting getting to sample their wares are woefully slim. Also note, you may get there just before closing time, but there is also the risk that the banh mi you want to try most, and have raced the distance for, will have sold out by then.
I managed to get time off work one recent weekday (no, no pretending to be sick scams involved), and put this on the list of things to do. It was worth it.
There was already a line by the time we got there, a little before peak lunch hour. The Bowen Hills branch is in the middle of suburban not-quite-industrial office buildings. You could just about miss it if not for the people standing out front. If you have driven to get there, you will, unfortunately, find that parking is an issue, as there is no dedicated parking area, and the street parking on the roads nearby will already be occupied by the people working locally. They seem to have all the advantages. Be prepared to park in whatever spaces are left a few blocks away and walk back. It will be worth it.
The staff are efficient and the line moves quickly. The menu is relatively compact. There are banh mi with different fillings, rice paper rolls with different fillings, rice noodle salads with different toppings, and rice bowls with different toppings. By different, I mean marinated beef, chicken, pork, pork meatballs, or tofu. Variations on a theme, but well-done variations. You can also get snacks of spring rolls, dim sims, or fried wontons.
We opted for a selection of banh mis. (Why would you have just one?) We had the pork chop banh mi, the three little piggies banh mi (great name, and gets you vietnamese porchetta, barbecue pork, and vietnamese ham), and the fried pork meatball banh mi (which was the special of the day). They come to you individually wrapped in a brown paper bag, like contraband, with Mrs Luu’s and three pigs stamped on them.
The banh mi baguettes are crunchy and flaky on the outside, and soft on the inside, as good baguettes should be. The fillings have a punch of flavour, from fresh coriander, slivers of vegetables, a thin layer of pate, and the meat of your choice. Just a bit of chilli is painted on too, for some heat.
Of the ones we had, the fried pork meatballs were my favourite. Sweet, salty, meat that still has texture, and hot straight from the fryer.. I’m don’t think you can go wrong with any of them though. Words of wisdom: you’ll want more than one.
Price point: Banh mi $7.50 to $9 (for the fried meatballs, totally worth it). Rice paper rolls $6. Rice bowls and rice noodle salads $11.
Address: 15 Thompson Street, Bowen Hills
Phone: 3852 5381
Address: 25 Railway Terrace, Milton
Phone: 3369 5670
Website: Mrs Luu’s