When we moved to West Roxbury 10 years ago, there were next to NO decent restaurants… it was something we really struggled with, having moved from Back Bay. No delivery other than crappy chinese and moderately edible pizza. Now however, Centre Street is loaded with great places and the newest addition to those is Banh Mi Ngon, a “Gourmet Vietnamese Sandwhich” shop. The ironic thing is that we JUST MOVED out to Dover, MA (for the schools of course) — now that there are so many great food choices! Figures…
The good news is that I still own a business in Roslindale, so I go home down Centre St every day and can easily stop at one of the new places any time I want. So when I saw that a banh mi place was opening, I immediately began salivating.
According to Wikipedia:
Bánh mì or bánh mỳ (/ˈbʌn ˌmiː/; Vietnamese pronunciation: [ɓǎɲ mî]) is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread. Bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during its colonial period. The bread most commonly found in Vietnam is single serve and resembles a torpedo, therefore the term bánh mì is synonymous with this type of bread. The bánh mì is usually more airy than its western counterpart, so as a result, has a thinner crust.
The sandwiches made from bánh mì include meat and soy fillings such as steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled pork, grilled pork patties, spreadable pork liver pâté, pork floss, grilled chicken, chicken floss, canned sardines in tomato sauce, soft pork meatballs in tomato sauce, head cheese, fried eggs, and tofu. Accompanying vegetables include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and pickled carrots and daikon in shredded form. Spicy chili sauce is normally found in bánh mì sold by vendors in Vietnam. In western countries, especially the U.S., the chili sauce has been replaced with sliced jalapeños, a type of chili pepper that is not grown and consumed in Vietnam. In southern Vietnam, homemade mayonnaise is commonly added to the sandwich. Laughing Cow cheese is also a popular filling in Vietnam.
The menu at Banh Mi Ngon is simple, but covers all the bases. They have various meat sandwiches, chicken, sardines, shrimp and the vegetarian versions, as well as appetizers and and a few desserts. They also have some very interesting-sounding smoothies, including avocado (I WILL be trying that next time), mung bean, taro or red bean and you can have them add tapioca pearls, like they do in bubble tea.
Until July 1st, they were still operating with “introductory pricing” so the sandwiches were only $4!!! Not sure what the prices switched to, but I’m sure I’ll go back soon and when I do, I’ll post the new prices.
For my first visit, I chose #6, Bahn mi cha tom – grilled ground shrimp sandwich. The bread was nicely toasted (which really adds an interesting dimension to the sandwich) and the filling was tasty. According to the menu, all sandwiches are served with pickled carrots and daikon (radish), cucumbers, cilantro and homemade mayo sauce on a toasted baguette. You can also opt to add jalapeño slices and/or spicy sauce. The combination of the cool, crunchy vegetables, the acidic pickled vegetables, the toasted bread and the creamy mayo are a combination of flavors that we are not accustomed to in this country and are SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS… especially when paired with the various meat and vegetarian fillings.
The space is takeout only and there’s not much too it. But things are very clean and the owner (whose name I regrettably cannot remember!) is fantastic. I’ve gone in on three separate occasions and she’s remembered me each time.
The third and last time I went, I dragged Dan along so he could experience what I had been bragging about for weeks. He was a bit more daring than I and got the Banh mi thit nguoi – “Classic” sandwich with Vietnamese ham, pork, meatloaf and pate. It was stacked with a healthy portion of strange looking deli meats, none of which I would be willing to try. BUT, I don’t eat read meat. He liked the sandwich and would definitely get it again.
I got the sandwich with the rotisserie chicken and LOVED it. Definitely my new favorite. Even though I’m usually a bit squeamish when it comes to anything that’s not seafood or vegetarian, this sandwich is fabulous. Next time I may try the tofu just to see…
Banh Mi Ngon is located at 1759 Centre Street in West Roxbury, MA. Their number is 617.325.0946. Not sure of the hours, but you can always call ahead. Show this new, local business some support by stepping outside your comfort zone to try some new goodies!
On a side note… for you gals… the nail salon that is next door, Polish & Refine is awesome. I’ve been going to them for 10 years (they used to be “Classy Nails”) and I LOVE them.