Banh Mi Boys

Posted on May 25, 2012

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What do you do when you have an hour to kill around the Spadina/Bloor area?  Look for good food of course!  The food I was in the mood to try today was Asian fusion themed restaurant Banh Mi Boys.  This restaurant has been long in my radar as I keep on seeing it trending in food sites that I follow.  I always have a cautious stance about Asian fusion food, tasting my share with apprehension.  But after reading countless positive reviews, how can so many people get it wrong?  Today was my day to try it and I made sure I tried the one dish that kept on popping almost every other review I found, Banh Mi Boys Kimchi fries.

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I located a parking spot just one block west of Spadina and Queen St. W.  As I was walking towards the restaurant, I noticed one significant thing.  There was one door that has heavy foot traffic.  People coming and going almost in a regular pace.  As I came near it, as expected, it was Banh Mi Boys.  Ample space lined with white tables.  I see each table occupied with full food trays lined with red and white checkered paper.  On the opposite side was a bar and that was maxed out too.  I loved the energy of the place, very vibrant and relaxed at the same time.  The smell was undoubtedly the sweet and saltiness of soy and hoisin in a hot grill, familiar Asian cuisine smells that always make my stomach growl.  “Calm down my famished tummy”, I thought,  “we would get sustenance soon”.

As I waited in line, I started snapping pictures, stopping when I finally get close to the menu.  The menu came in three sections, Banh Mi, tacos and steamed bao.  Seeing the prices were unbelievably cheap, I thought I could try more if I go with lighter tacos and steamed bao.  I finally decided on three things – Kalbi Beef Tacos, Five Spice Pork Belly Steamed Bao and Kimchi fries (of course!).   It would really be easy to over-order in this place and I must confess I seriously considered getting Fried Chicken Steamed Bao, thinking about how satisfying a good crunch could be against soft rice bun.  Ah well, I am regularly going to Spadina and Bloor anyway.  Maybe on another day I would change it up and try other stuff.  What’s more was that I whimsically decided to do what their menu recommends, to ask to make the serving spicy.  I figured it must be good if they blatantly suggest it.  I might regret that choice but I rather eat it the way the chef envisioned it.  As I waited, I noticed that my ticket number was still about 8 people behind who they were serving.  I did not wait that long though as the crew moved quite fast.  I asked for mine packed to go as I saw no available table when I walked in.  I had to meet my friend, Diona, in a few minutes anyway so I planned on eating (and photographing… hehehe) in my car.

As I finally settled with my loot in my car, I fussed and I styled, trying to resist tasting it.  It was difficult as the smells of the food wafted around me in the constricted space of my sedan.  In the back of my mind, I felt somewhat guilty of walking out with three things.  The servings were quite generous.  I justified it in my head that I was going to share it with Diona.  She always feeds me when I swing by Kanto so I thought I’d feed her this time around.  I must confess that I could not wait to see Diona before I tasted the Kimchi fries.  I just needed to know.  The combination of freshly cut fries, kimchi, pulled pork, Japanese mayo and cheese would make one frown of its weirdness.  When I finally tried it, I was in awe on how it blended well.  How one could think to put it all together was really wicked!  Normally when eating Korean, I only half-heartedly eat the kimchi appetizer but with this dish, I cannot stop taking one fry after the other.  It was quite a messy affair, going through the spicy kimchi-mayo sauce but it was so good to lick my fingers after scoring another fry.

It also a good thing that the drive to Diona only took another five minutes.  Taking my slice of Kalbi Beef taco, I took one big bite.  The tender meat paired with crunchy pickled veggies was so satisfying.  I was also glad of my whimsical decision to go spicy.  I love that hint of heat that danced on my mouth as I munched on.  Last I tasted was the Five Spice Belly steamed bao.  Just like the Kimchi fries and Kalbi Beef taco, the steamed bao hit the right spot.

I now sit here trying to decide which of the three was my favorite and I am still confused.  All three I would come back for again.  On second thought,  there was still quite a long list I am yet to try from the menu.  Such a dilemma of a foodie like me.  Not that I am complaining though.  Either way I go, I know I would have a happy tummy. :)

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