I finally had a chance to visit the esteemed Banh Mi Boys! It’s a Vietnamese sandwich (called a “banh mi”) shop that also sells the popular “kimchi fries”. It was obvious that we had to go there to these all of these out! Their sandwiches were also declared the best sandwich of the year by the Toronto Star in 2012. Translation — foodie hotspot!
My two birthday buddies and I decided to dine here as part of our reunion. We hadn’t seen each other together in the same spot at the same time since 2011! We had had lots of Skype chats and Facebook messages between that, but nothing replaces real live hangouts. 🙂
When we got there, there was a small line-up already at the cash register. The dine-in area was small as most of their orders are intended to be take-out. We quickly grabbed a table for the three of us and glazed curiously at the scrumptious menu scene on the flat-screen. We knew we wanted to try the banh mi’s; this was a no brainer, as with the kimchi fries. We also decided to try one of their baos. Within two minutes, we settled on our choices (really fast considering we were all Libras — LOL read: indecisive nature) and we placed our order. The girl at the cash register was friendly and quick and repeated the order after I had placed it to ensure everything was correct. I left my name with her and sat down to wait for them to call my name. It didn’t take as long as we had anticipated for our food to be ready and when I went to take the order, the food was served on small silver trays. I asked them to cut everything up in three for us so that we could savour everything without having to resort to ripping up the sandwiches with our bare hands. That wouldn’t be a pretty sight. :p
After the photoshoot of the food had finished — come on, we’re Asian foodies, what do you expect? — we dove into the food.
First, we tried the “Five Spice Pork Belly” Banh Mi which is one of their signatures. Vietnamese sandwiches are made with a baguette, cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumber, and house mayonnaise. It was pretty good. There were enough ingredients in there for you to take a huge bite and have a lot of the stuffing spill out from the sides. The top of our table was messy with crumbs by the end of the meal.
The Kimchi Fries were very yummy and this was the first time I had the pickled cabbage in a poutine. The mayonnaise complimented the entire pile very well, and the green onions added a crunch and green colour to the mix. I’m not a big fan of pulled pork in general, so I was glad that there wasn’t too much of it in there. Those who are a fan would have enjoyed it. The fries were a little dry and it would have improved the experience if they were better prepared. I saw a couple of people at the other tables eating a box of the kimchi fries for themselves; I think it’s way too much for one person. This is definitely something to be shared.
Next, we each had a taste of the Fried Chicken Bao. It’s a soft, white fluffy bun wrapped around a piece of fried chicken, and again with pickled carrots, cilantro, and cucumber. I loved how soft the bun was, and how well the chicken’s tenderness matched it. This was so far my favourite after the fries. I liked how healthy it seemed since it was pure chicken meat with vegetables.
Lastly, we fried the “kalbi beef” banh mi. I’m glad I saved this for last, because I think it was the best item that we ordered. This sandwich not only had a big chunk of saucy kalbi beef but there were a generous portion of kimchi in each bite as well. It was so well flavoured and assembled; each bite was succulent and tangy with the taste of the kimchi and beef.
We were all very satisfied with our meal and it was a great idea to share all of these so that we could have a taste of each unique item. My definite favourite was the Kalbi Beef Banh Mi. I thought so highly of it that I went back to buy another one to go so that my mom could try it too. I really liked the uniqueness of the kimchi in the sandwich. They also have tacos on their menu which I saw I lot of people order. Next time I swing by this shop, I’m definitely going to try those out too. I’m sure those won’t disappoint either.
As far as the banh mi’s go, I’ve had these Vietnamese sandwiches before and I’ve always liked the pork liver pate that they have in there. As far as comparisons go, Banh Mi Boys delivers their sandwiches fresh and with a twist on the typical Vietnamese sandwich. The meatball, pulled pork, and duck confit options that they have on their menu are certainly not the usual items that you find in a regular banh mi. I guess this is what draws customers in. Their baguettes are also pricier than the ones I can pick up from the local Chinese supermarket which cost $1-2, but it’s worth it for the amount of ingredients they have in it.
With all of this delicious looking and certainly delicious food comes a downside — the calories and fat content. The Star coincidentally ran an article on the nutritional value of the Banh Mi Boys sandwiches and fries two days after we had visited the joint. Personally, I’m not one to shy away from trying new food if it means a new food experience. As long as you eat well and exercise, I’m sure that one big indulgence every so often is not going to kill you. 🙂