Huế Bánh Mì & Phở Cafe (Banh Mi Review)

Address: 1665 E Main St Suite 300, Kent, OH 44240

This pick-up-only restaurant opened up not long ago, after a February 28 soft-launch. Located in the college town of Kent, OH there is promise since it is the only establishment to serve traditional bánh mì in the area.

We ordered two bánh mì here, the BM1 Special (Bánh Mì Đặc Biệt), and the BM9. Vietnamese Meatball (Bánh Mì Xíu Mại). Both had the same treatment of veggies, and toppings that you would expect. The review for each is below.

BM1 Special (Bánh Mì Đặc Biệt)

First up is the “Special”, which contains all of the expected meats from a traditional bánh mì you could pick up off a street vendor or specialized shop in large cities. It looks properly filled and substantial. The liver pate is present, vegetables including pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, mayonnaise, and cucumber cut in quarter size.

The bread consistency was a bit odd, soft on the outside showing that it was either crisped and softened during the commute or was already soft, to begin with. As a general rule of thumb for the review critique, soft bread will automatically net a lower overall score.

What stood out to me in this specific offering lacks in overall flavor. I have never tasted a bánh mì like this one. It had all of the right ingredients but none of the typical or expected flavors. The pickled vegetables didn’t have that pickled taste, that bit of tangy dance on your tongue. The liver pate was present but not fragrant. The mayonnaise was overpowering surprisingly, but not in a rich way, more in the “miracle whip” sensation. I thought maybe this masked the meat’s signatures but honestly, it felt like all of the meat was in the same flavor range, leading to a bite that was very one-note.

at $7.45 at the time of review, this makes a decent pickup if you’re in a pinch and nearby.

BM9. Vietnamese Meatball (Bánh Mì Xíu Mại)

The second offering picked up was the meatball variant, bánh mì xíu mại. If you read the first review of the Đặc Biệt, most of it will apply other than the meat and overall impression.

This faired much better to me in terms of just being a good tasting bánh mì you could enjoy from the spectrum of goodness.

Containing the accouterments of vegetables, including cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon, and cucumber, this is a very expected combination and is appreciated.

The meat was prepared nicely, as the Vietnamese Meatball is not a typical Italian meatball, there is a certain consistency you aim for in a sandwich. The breakdown of the sauces also helps create a more savory experience while eating. Think of an extremely broken-down roast texture but in meatball form.

at a similar cost of $7.45, it is worth picking up to try out at least once, especially since a comparable offering is not available in a 20 mile radius.

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