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BonMi, A New York Fast-Casual Bánh Mì Chain on 19th and I Street Downtown - Closed


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Rocks' new favorite place. Because of their cooking methods.

FWIW, that first comment was not from me (although I suspect it was designed to look like it was).

"You can't screw it up," Jacoby says.

"You just did," Shott replies.

The best part of this piece, to me, was The City Paper - once again - showing that it's capable of rolling up their sleeves, and doing some reporting, as opposed to just cutting-and-pasting (or rewriting) press releases, attaching photos of celebrity chefs, and calling themselves "food journalists."

This may be a really good test model to see whether pure sous-vide cooking (i.e., not finished on the grill) takes off ... or not. The airline passenger in me hopes it does (and that's not a cutting remark).

And in case anyone thinks this model can't work, all you need to do is take a look at the morons waiting in line for food trucks, cupcakes, fast-casual restaurants, or hamburgers - they couldn't care less how their food was prepared; in fact, they really don't want to know. The people behind this "concept" are not stupid.

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Shoot, if I'd have noticed this thread update before lunch, I could have given you a review already. This is just a couple blocks from my office, and I miss the bahn mi sandwich places I used to go to in Hawai'i. (Tell the truth, I've been kind of stalking them to see when they'll open.)

But sous vide, huh. Well, I guess we'll see. But if they have the kind of toasty banana tapioca pudding that I used to get at Ba Le, I'll be a happy camper.

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So my experience with bahn mi ranges from the sublime Ba Le that I mentioned upthread to a very dodgy experience with some mystery meat near the Oakland convention center. I can't claim to have ever been to Vietnam or to have eaten these sandwiches there.

This turns out to be a reasonable sandwich option for the neighborhood, but I wouldn't travel to get there. There was quite a line at noon today when I arrived, but the service moved quickly and I wasn't waiting for long. I had the bonmi chicken sandwich option. The pickles and cilantro filling gave a nice crunch and herbal/vinegar taste that's really the heart of this kind of sandwich. The meat was slightly chewier than I would have liked and an odd color, but the flavor was good. The bread did not yield, as dcist put it, "a crackly crisp crust"--not in the slightest. It was fresh and suited the sandwich, but was nothing to write home about.

The menu additionally includes a Vietnamese iced coffee option, which I was tempted to try, but would have been my 4th cup of the day, so I passed; and little "bonmi bars" which looked like some sort of tiny sweet granola bar concoction.

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I just polished off a BonMi beef brisket sandwich with all the fixins. The meat is quite good, tastes like well braised beef.

After my trip there today, I agree.

Bottom line for me is that if I worked a bit closer, I would put BonMi into my lunch out rotation. But since it is a good 5-6 blocks from me (where I pass at least 10-15 other lunch options on the way), I don't know how frequently I'll be back. I would like to try a couple other things on the menu though.

I had the Beef Brisket Banh Mi ($7.50 - Slow cooked till it falls off the bone, this brisket melts in your mouth. Served on a Vietnamese Baguette with house pickled veggies, cucumber, cilantro and chili-lime mayo). All of the other sandwiches (chicken, tofu, squash, pork) are $1-1.50 less, but I thought the brisket was good and worth the extra $1. You also have a choice of spicy or non-spicy mayo. I went with spicy and it had a nice little zing, although really nothing too spicy (especially compared to the red curry I had yesterday at Shophouse!).

Having never had a Banh Mi before (the horror!) I don't really have anything to compare it to, but as a sandwich I quite liked it. The bread was fresh and crispy (sourced from Lyon), the meat was tender and well-cooked, and the veggies were crisp and fresh. The bites with herb and cilantro were especially good.

I also tried a Butternut Squash Summer Roll ($2.50 - Soft rice paper filled with house pickled carrots, fresh herbs, cucumber, and rice noodles, served with hoisin sauce for dipping). The other option was chicken and there was a peanut sauce choice as well. Although this was also fresh and tasted pretty good, I would not really recommend it. The construction was pretty atrocious as the bag it came in stuck to the rice paper and caused it to basically fall apart in my hands before I had even taken a bite. I tried to set it down between bites and the rice paper stuck to my sandwich's paper bag and tore again. Not worth the trouble and annoyance in my mind.

After reading the mini-review in the WaPo I also indulged by adding an order of the "BonMi Bites" ($2 for two - Medjool dates, roasted almonds and dried fruits) to my tab. I wanted the Pumpkin Five Spice that were raved about in the review, but they were sold out (not surprised). I settled for Blueberry Lemon, and thought they were a nice, not too sweet, somewhat healthy end to the meal. The other available flavors were Chocolate Coconut and Cranberry Sunflower.

Now I just need to try the Shophouse Banh Mi (and of course some more authentic ones from Eden Center!!!) to further execute my taste test :lol:

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