Banh Mi Boys
Before we had tried Banh Mi Boys, our only experience of the Vietnamese sub were the cold sandwiches at the grocery store, filled with soggy vegetables and questionable meats. But Banh Mi Boys' is so different from the plastic-wrapped atrocities you find at the supermarket. Having scored and kept the title of Toronto's most talked about restaurant, the Chau brothers have redefined the sandwich, which is the star of the menu, alongside tacos and steamed baos.
We've visited both the Queen W & Spadina and Yonge & Gerrard locations multiple times (stupidly during lunch), and nearly always encounter the same hyperactive experience. You walk in hungry, wait in a long line to place your order, then wait even longer to choose your spice level and finally pick up your meal, by which time you're ready to eat whatever they hand you.
During our trips to Banh Mi Boys, we've tried the Five Spice Pork Belly Banh Mi ($5.99), the Kalbi Beef Banh Mi ($5.99), and the Kimchi Fries ($5.99).
Five Spice Pork Belly Banh Mi (5.99)
The Banh Mi is served on a freshly made, chewy baguette with pickled carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and their house mayo and customizable heat via Sriracha sauce. Both the pork belly and kalbi beef are tender cuts and well-seasoned, but unfortunately with an abundance of vegetables and too much bread per bite, the meat is usually lost in the depths of the sub.
Kimchi Fries, $6.99
Frankly, the Kimchi Fries look like a hot mess. They're Banh Mi Boys' take on poutine, but instead of cheese curds and gravy, these fries are topped with succulent pulled pork, cheese, hoisin sauce, wasabi mayo, chives, and of course, tangy kimchi. Sounds absolutely terrifying but in a strange twist of fate, it's delicious. Every aspect of this dish is outstanding without being overpowering, and they all come together to create a masterpiece. We both devoured individual portions before discovering the heart-attack inducing calorie count.
Despite the fact that Chinatown is hop, skip, and a jump away, and filled with $2 banh mis, there's a certain appeal to Banh Mi Boys. It's the trendier version of a traditional Vietnamese sub shop, complete with international inspiration shown through their fusions – Korean (kalbi beef), Chinese (five spice pork), French (duck confit), and American (pulled pork). Somehow despite their fame and fortune, they remain authentic and for that reason we bao down to Banh Mi Boys.