Banh Mi — A sandwich worth trying (if you like cilantro)

I recently visited the restaurant Banh Mi Boys located on Queen Street West in Toronto. Banh Mi Boys is a Vietnamese sandwich shop with a twist; It incorporates Taiwanese and Korean flavours into classic banh mi sandwiches. I had never had banh mi prior to my trip to the restaurant and was excited to see what it would be like.

The menu is relatively simple; It gives you the options of banh mi, tacos, steamed bao, and then sides and entree salads. They do however offer a few crazier options that you don’t often see on sandwich menus. A couple different types of banh mi that hey have are; squid, duck confit, and braised beef cheek. I decided to play it safe with this endeavour and went with the five spice pork belly banh mi and I also got a side of kimchi fries.


Visually I found the sandwich to be appealing, it was colourful and had a good amount of filling in it. Right away I was not pleased with the scent of the sandwich as it smelt strongly of cilantro. I wasn’t aware that the sandwich would be heavily garnished with cilantro. If I had known prior I would have seen if there was a way to have it without it so that my view on the food wouldn’t be so hindered. Each bite had a good combination of texture, the bun was crunchy, the veggies were crisp, and the meat added a chewy element. The carrots and cucumber added sweetness, the meat was savoury, and the cilantro added bitterness. I wish that it had more saltiness and also found that it lacked a sour element.

My favourite part of the meal were the kimchi fries that I ordered. The kimchi fries consisted of fries, mayo, kimchi, and green onions. I had never heard of kimchi fries prior to seeing it on the Banh Mi Boys menu; I enjoy the idea of incorporating two different types of cuisine into one to make something new and tasty. Each bite of the fries had all of the five basic tastes within it — salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umame. The fries were perfectly done — they were crispy and salty. The onions added some bitterness, the mayo added sweetness and the kimchi added a mix of everything. The texture was relatively soft with a bit of crunch from the fries and kimchi, I feel like this worked extremely well for the dish.

My trip to Banh Mi Boys allowed me to experience a new type of fusion cuisine that for the most part was quite satisfying. The food re-established my distain for cilantro and I learnt that combing different cuisines together can work extremely well and create more exciting dishes. I would definitely go back to Banh Mi Boys again, especially for the kimchi fries! I would love to try more of their dishes but hopefully sans the cilantro.


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