When Banh Mi Boys opened—from early December to mid-January—it was an overnight sensation. Cheap and delicious Asian street food served by a band of brothers? It was like catnip to the assorted hipsters, foodies, bloggers and Twitterers, who couldn’t get enough. The place reopened last week after a two-month renovation hiatus, and it saw over 400 customers on its first day. Not surprisingly, there were lineups out the door.
Behind it all are the Chau brothers: David, Philip and Peter, whose parents opened Nguyen Huong Food Co., one of the original Chinatown banh mi shops, at Spadina and Dundas in 1986. Later, N&H developed an additional bakery and deli meat business as part of their growing enterprise. Now the sons—who are responsible for the family business—have decided to open their own shop, bringing a modern take to the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. The shiny and narrow space was designed by Peter Yip of TED Design International, with a theme of “old meets new.” Modern Chinese-style lanterns hang above glossy white tables, which are set against a barn board wall. Across from the open kitchen’s ordering counter, the wall is emblazoned with the bright black, white and red Banh Mi Boys logo.
On the menu, you’ll find 10 kinds of banh mi, including traditional grilled pork with lemon grass ($4.99), five-spice braised pork belly with Asian barbecue sauce ($5.99), meatball with tomato hoisin ($5.49), smoked pulled pork ($5.49), braised beef cheek with onion chutney ($5.99), duck confit ($7.49) and crispy squid ($5.99). Taco options (all $3.99) include squid, grilled chicken and kalbi beef, and steamed bao options (all $3.49) include five-spice pork belly and braised beef cheek. Then there’s the kimchi fries ($5.99), slathered in house mayo, spicy pulled pork, kimchi and green onions. Of course, if you want to actually try any of these, you’ll have to brave the considerable lineups.
Banh Mi Boys, 392 Queen St. W., banhmiboys.com