Asian Confession: Banh Mi—Used to Hate It Till I Ate It

How Bun Me! won me over.

I’ll be frank: I’m not big on sandwiches. Sure, there are some I’ll go for if I’m sandwiched into eating one, e.g., open face turkey, French dip, or meatball sub. Other than those, forget it. Grinders are too plain utilitarian and uninspired for my taste. This is why I never got on the banh mi banh-wagon. (Yes, I went there.) In fact, banh mi, the Vietnamese baguette sandwich, always left me feeling a bit banh meh whenever I ate one. (Yes, I went right back there.)

Then I went to Bun Me! (Yes, I’m a sucker for puns if you haven’t figured that out by now.) Located in Northridge, Bun Me! is a tiny storefront with a scant five tables, all of which are usually occupied by local CSUN students vacuuming up tapioca pearls through extra fat straws. Bun Me!’s menu is In-N Out-Burger basic with sandwiches, rolls, bowls, and drinks.

The grilled lemongrass chicken banh mi is on a beautifully toasted French baguette—crusty and airy—filled with fresh, crunchy julienned cucumber, daikon, pickled carrots. It’s punched up with fragrant cilantro, peppy jalapenos, and house-made aioli. The result is so fresh, that it’s essentially a summer roll on a French roll.

Thai and Vietnamese lemongrass chicken share more or less the same flavor profile—though once in a while there’s coconut milk involved. The lemongrass chicken at Bun Me! is sweet, spicy, savory, and tangy—the fab four flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.

It doesn’t have the rock bottom bargain prices of Alhambra’s beloved Banh Mi My Tho (where no sandwich is above $3), but at $4.50, Bun Me! and its lemongrass chicken is still a deal—and they throw in a few shrimp chips for giggles.

Now it’s time to ban me from using anymore banh mi puns. (Cue the groans.)

Bun Me!
9420 Reseda Blvd.
Ste. 5
Northridge, CA 91325