Editor’s Note: Bun Mi Sandwiches is now closed.
Bun Mi Sandwiches, a Vietnamese sandwich and bubble tea shop about the size of a postage stamp, opens its doors in Stadium Village on Washington Ave. SE today. That it is wedged between a Jamba Juice and a Big Ten Restaurant and Bar seems fitting, as Bun Mi Sandwiches occupies the world between: not exactly a classic Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich / specialty beverage shop, but not a typical submarine sandwich shop either. Bun Mi is a little of both. According to a recent story in the New York Times, this “sudden flowering of banh mi culture,” where restaurateurs are “tinkering with a once-rigid culinary tradition” and “reinventing the banh mi” by “nudging it forward with cross-cultural fillings…and American influences” is a trend around the country, particularly among young Vietnamese entrepreneurs.
Bun Mi’s regular sandwiches, $4.75, all come with slivers of pickled carrots and daikon, slices of cucumber, green onions, cilantro, jalapeño pepper, and special mayonnaise, typical bánh mì fillings, and are served on a soft yet crusty baguette. Filling options range from a “classic Vietnamese” loaded with barbeque pork, pork loaf, and pate, to the less typical lemongrass chicken. Bun Mi’s special sandwiches, $5.25, include “the Bun Mi special,” which is grilled pork and a slice of omelet, a mock duck curry sandwich, and an option featuring fried tofu with Philly Cheesesteak-esque grilled peppers and onions.
Bun Mi’s vermicelli noodle “bun” salads, $5.95 for one topping and $6.95 for two, come on the typically Vietnamese bed of lettuce and with pickled carrots, cucumbers, tomato, and bean sprouts, with your option of classic toppings such as barbeque pork or more unexpected toppings such the house specialty eggs.
Crispy, yet tender, battered French fries with spicy mayonnaise ($3.25) and American cream cheese ($3.95) or crab rangoon wontons ($3.95) flesh out the appetizer portion of the menu, which is anchored by fresh Vietnamese spring rolls ($3.75), which, again, come with your option of the traditional barbeque pork or grilled beef, or, unexpectedly, the house special eggs.
Beverages include bubble tea, shaken or blended ($3.25-$3.95 depending on the size, an additional $0.50 for tapioca pearls), canned Asian drinks, pop, and Aquafina water.
We tried Bun Mi’s classic Vietnamese sandwich, lemongrass chicken sandwich, and bun mi special sandwich. Aside from the overly liberal application of mayonnaise, which is a small kink they have plenty of time to iron out, the sandwiches — particularly the lemongrass chicken– showed some promise. Bun Mi Sandwiches may not be the place to head when you’re craving a classic Vietnamese bánh mì (head just a couple of blocks and around the corner to Jasmine Orchid Deli if that’s what you seek) or a classic American sub (Big Ten next door will do), but if you’re looking for something different, Bun Mi with its Wi-Fi and fresh-as-a-morning-sunrise splashes of orange paint on the wall, will be a fun place to park with your laptop. It will be interesting in the weeks and months ahead to see where inspiration takes Bun Mi Sandwiches.
When have you ever heard this at your neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant: “Would you like fries with that?”
OWNERS: Ted Sayaraj and Sherman Ho
604 Washington Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
HOURS: Their hours are still in flux, but they are typically open daily from 11am to 8 or 9pm