single serving: banh mi from Bunn Mike
Who doesn't love a good sandwich! All that meat, bread and crunchy vegetable thingys in one convenient package. Just so tasty. And if I can find it for less than $10 in this town, then it becomes a most pleasant surprise I want to shout to the rooftops you can barely see above the fog.
Much like my quest for a great chocolate chip cookie, my search for a tasty and affordable sandwich is sometimes frustrating and unexpected. You see something opening on the horizon with the owners saying all the right buzzwords that their's will be great options for those who don't want to spend a lot for a quick lunch or bite and blah, blah, blah. Then you get their and it's $12 for some small panini pressed thing you can finish in two bites. WTF! Still, while I rail against the overpriced sandwiches of SF, I continue to eat them at my own wallet peril.
Recently I was on a stroll through the Castro and went past that food hall at Market and 15th (which seems to be closing soon) and saw a new banh mi place had opened up inside called Bunn Mike. Fun name, I love a good banh mi sandwich and surprise, I'm hungry right now so let's see what he's got.
Fortunately it is a very simple menu of four sandwiches and seems he's selling Dynamo Donuts too! Though, that is a lot of carbs in one sitting and I am not their biggest fan, so I'm just gonna do the sandwich. And what to my wondering eyes do I see, but they are all priced at $7.25! Though, that is still a bit over what you would pay at Saigon Sandwich, but baby steps. Even though this is just a kiosk in a food hall type place, running any kind of restaurant in this town is difficult, but let's see what he has to offer as I decide to chow down on the five spice chicken banh mi.
One thing about a small pop-up shop is you can watch them prepare your stuff for you and he was very particular in his prep and, as you can see, made a specific point to carefully load up the sandwich. It is definitely a two handed big sandwich, maybe slightly larger than Saigon's. Besides the shredded pieces of five spice chicken with carrots, pickled daikon radish, cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro all crammed into a French roll. He also has something he calls Vietnamese mayo which seems like a sriracha mayo, but I'm a fan of that either way so it's all good.
Even when sliced in two, this was a big messy and flavorful sandwich. Each bite was full of crunch and spiciness from the mayo and jalapeños. The chicken was nice and chunky, though can't say I tasted the five spice so much as the flavors like the sweet pickled tang of daikon and spicy sriracha can overpower some of the subtle spices, but I was okay with that as the meat in a banh mi is usually just the protein and it is the freshness of the veggies and toppings that are the star of any good banh mi. All in all, this was a really good sandwich from bite to bite and very filling as I consumed every last crumb. Tasty banh mi and I got change back on my ten spot, well done Mike!
As I noted above, the food hall where Bunn Mike is currently located is closing at the end of February, but fret not, Mike has found a new place in North Beach at 752 Columbus Ave. he will be moving to. The spot used to be a tiny deli so it will be all set and ready to go for pumping out banh mis when he moves and opens on March 3rd. Hopefully the quality and prices will stand up in the new spot. I will definitely stop by to check him out and see.