(Yes, that was a message-board joke. Do people still use those?)
Call me crazy, but I’ve lived in Toronto for eight years, and I’ve never had banh mi before. To be fair, it’s not quite as ubiquitous as shawarma, poutine or tacos, but still, I’ve been within stumbling distance of Chinatown for several months now, so I’ve really got no excuse.
That said, the Yonge St. Banh Mi Boys location wasn’t open the last time I checked, but I just so happened to be heading down Queen Street today (hint: it had something to do with buying records), so I stopped into their flagship store around feeding time.
So, what is banh mi, my Alberta readers must be wondering. Well, it’s basically a Vietnamese sub. Hell, if you’ve lived and/or worked around 17th Ave, east of the Deerfoot (I have), you’ve probably already had one of these–except that I hadn’t, not until today. What can I say, I always used to pack a lunch. That might be why I didn’t realize one sandwich (cut in halves) would probably be enough food without ordering a side of fries:
What we’ve got here are Korean beef short ribs with cilantro, cucumber, kimchi and pickled carrots on a fresh baguette roll. The beef has a nice chewy texture, complemented by the crunch of the carrots and the cukes. The kimchi added a nice kick, along with a sweet, spicy red sauce that was supposedly jalapeno (although I thought those were green.) For $5.99, it’s really enough food for two people–if both of them have puny little appetites.
Like I said, I really didn’t need to order a side of fries… but I did, anyways. And these weren’t just any fries, but rather kimchi fries, topped with mayo, pulled pork and, of course, that Korean cabbage. Pulled pork and kimchi is a bit of an odd pairing–like an Asian girl with a southern drawl–but they go surprisingly well together, the tangy texture of the pork offsetting the acidic taste of the cabbage. And hey, everything’s better when you put it on top of fries, right?
Now as it turns out, the Yonge St location actually opened back in April. But hey, it’s north of Gerrard, so that’s like, a whole ‘nother postal code! (No really, it is.) In which case, if I ever feel the need to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond (note: I have never felt this need in my life to date), I definitely know where I’ll be eating afterwards.