Okay, I am suddenly obsessed with the goodness that is banh mi. I always read about it, seen the standard food porn, and it seemed like a good concept until I actually tried it and IT BLEW MY MIND.
I have become an utter addict, similar to the Chipotle obsession my sister had when she was in high school and she'd roll up to the nearest one and the cashier already knew what she wanted. It's to the point where I recognize the dudes making my meals and I try and stagger my visits so I don't run into the same people. Yes, I am ashamed.
Right across from my temporary residence is a strip of food joints that include a coffee shop, a noodle chain, a Chinese joint, a sub place, blah blah blah, and the appropriately named Bun Mi.
I had always been curious about banh mi so I decided to check it out. A tiny but brightly lit and clean dining area greeted me. The counter and food prep area were positioned in the back. Very reminiscent of a typical NYC food joint, many of which I dearly miss.
I normally get the Combunation which gets you a regular banh mi, fries, and soda for $5.99 + tax. I've had the lemongrass chicken, grilled beef, and classic banh mi sandwiches. I prefer them in that order, too, by the way. However, the chicken and beef tend to be greasy and saucy, although the sauce isn't so overpowering.
Classic Vietnamese with BBQ Pork, Pork Roll and Pate (only I ordered without pate, and to be honest, picked off the pork roll).
The sandwiches come with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, and "special mayo." Buns are nice and fresh-tasting, with a nice hard crust and soft interior. However, I would prefer more veg and jalepeno to bread, and actually, the filling isn't as generous as I want it to be, but that may be subjective and due to the bulk of the bread. Subway SEEMS to have this ratio down but it's most likely because the bread is so limp and soft, giving it the quick ability to soak in all the liquid from the veg.
French fries TO DIE FOR. Perfectly fried every time, spicy seasoning, and its crazily crispy yet smooth innards make these probably the best fries I've ever had.
Served with seasoned mayo. OMG.
Furthermore, one afternoon, I noticed some college dude walking on the street with a salad container from Bun Mi, and I knew I also had to have it. And so the obsession continues.
The standard Salad Mi contains vermicelli noodles, lettuce, pickled carrots, cucumber, tomato, bean sprouts served with a savory dressing-- the latter meaning the same sweet and sour peanut sauce with cilantro bits. It comes with the option of toppings.
I've had the sauteed shrimp and eggrolls (above), and I will most likely try the meatball skewers at some point. The specialty eggs sound a little scary.The salad, er actually noodle dish, since there's actually more noodles than greens, is nice and fresh-tasting. It just tastes CLEAN and relatively healthy. The sauce does wonders with the clump of white noodles being crushed under toppings and veg.
Sauteed shrimp. Nicely sized and well-seasoned. Good when the take-out's still warm!
Eggrolls, cut into more manageable pieces. Filled with meat, most likely pork, and veggies. Standard but crispy and you cannot go wrong with fried.
Too bad they like to burn their egg rolls. But I ate them anyway.
Fresh spring rolls come with choice of the BBQ pork, eggs, or chicken. I tried the BBQ pork because I like to ask the food prep people what they usually like and their recs are usually on point. The suggestion was solid. The rolls were a bit dry overall, and I would have actually preffered generic shrimp instead of BBQ pork, which I would have gotten but they didn't offer. There was a lot of nice bite from the generous cilantro, and soaking in the sauce made the experience go a lot smoother.
Can you believe I actually used to dislike fresh spring rolls?! What was wrong with me?!
604 Washington Ave, SE
*Thomas D'Invilliers resides in Brooklyn and covets the Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton luggage set featured in 'The Darjeeling Limited.'