Our search for good banh mi variations obviously brought us to new Foggy Bottom lunch place: BONMi, which takes its name from the Anglicized pronunciation of the now ubiquitous Vietnamese sandwich. And in some ways, the banh mi itself is pretty Anglicized.
menu consists of sandwiches, lettuce wraps, salads, and summer rolls,
but the focus is the eponymous banh mi. There are eight or so choices,
almost none of which exist in actuality for Vietnamese people. Five
spice chicken? Chile garlic tofu? Butternut squash? Where are the Eden
Center shops that do anything like this? The variations wouldn't be such
a bother if there was a decided lack of the meats that are the most
common (pork belly, cha lua, pate). As is my pet peeve, just putting it
in a crusty baguette and putting some jalapenos and pickled vegetables
and cilantro on it does not make it banh mi; it's the equivalent of
putting whipped cream and sprinkles on some pudding, and calling it an
ice cream sundae.
As for the sandwich itself, it was
pretty bland. I ordered the regular chicken, thinking that if I couldn't
have anything I was used to, I'd try something out there. What I got
tasted like steamed chicken, like something that came out of a frozen
dinner. At its very best, I can't imagine it being any better than the
Potbelly's next door, which is perfectly fine for the lunch-hour crowd
that frequents that area. Still, I just hope nobody walks in there
thinking it's more authentic than it actually is. Which is to say, that
it could be way better.
Taste Test: 2 Forks (out of 5)
Perfect for: Faking it.