After several weeks of trying to organize a visit, yesterday I finally made it out to what I think will soon be a very popular Toronto food destination, Banh Mi Boys. Ever since I tried my first Banh Mi (for those that don’t know it is essentially a viatnamese take on a sandwich) around 6 years ago, I have always loved this sandwich that is typically very cheap and full of flavour. Over the recent years the Banh Mi has started to become very popular in big cities such as New York and I knew it was only a matter of time until the trend landed in Toronto. I have actually been thinking for a long time about opening a sandwich place and one of the concept ideas I had was to do banh mi’s though I thought it might be a bit weird for a white guy to do.

I digress… Banh Mi Boys is located at 396 Queen St W. just west of Spadina (about 3 doors in from the Mcdonalds on the corner). They are still very new and have only been open for under a month. Unfortunately this kind of shows right now as the restaurant looks like it was put together in a bit of a hurry and leaves little to be desired in terms of ambience, but rest assured the manager mentioned they have renovations scheduled in the near future which will spruce the place up a bit!

Banh Mi Boys Counter

Banh Mi Boys is set up perfectly as a takeout restaurant, but there is seating for about 20 people should you want to eat in. Their hours are currently 11am to 11pm.  I arrived at the restaurant and met Mackenzie from Fuel House to check this new spot out. The line moved pretty quickly (under 5 minutes for 4-5 people) and it was time to decide what to order. Here is the menu when we were there:

Banh Mi Boys Menu

We both opted to try the Banh Mi sandwich but went opposite ways when it came to side dishes (well mains for some but we treated them more like sides). I opted for the pulled pork steamed bao, while Mackenzie went with 1 of each of their 3 tacos.


Pulled Pork Steamed Bao ($3.49)

Up first was the pulled pork steamed bao (or steamed buns in english). For toppings I just told them to make it how they would, so I am not sure what all the things were that went into it. I have never had steamed buns before so I am probably not the best person to talk about them as I have nothing to compare them to. What I can tell you though is I found the bun itself to be pretty flavourless with a very soft, slightly sticky texture. It really didn’t do much for me to be completely honest. As for the ingredients on the inside, the pulled pork itself was very nice and had great flavour. Also, unlike some Asian restaurants that make pulled pork using bbq sauce, theirs had a nice Asian flavour about it. I may try these again, but I would probably be more interested in getting the pulled pork in a banh mi.

5 Spice Pork Belly Banh Mi ($5.99)

Up next was the main event, the sandwich or banh mi which I got fully dressed (Kimchi, Cilantro, Pickeled Veg). The first thing I noticed was the pork was cooked excellently. It was nice and juicy and had great flavour. There was also a really good creamy sauce (possibly a mayo) on the sandwich which added to the excellent flavour. The cashier at Banh Mi Boys said they make their bread in house, and this was definitely noticed in the sandwich. The bread was delicious, soft with a nice sticky crunch. The biggest letdowns from the sandwich though were the kimchi and the pickeled veg. They really had little to no flavour which is quite the opposite of what I am usually used to with banh mi sandwiches. The owner mentioned they are still working on perfecting this as they make these things in house and have been going through stock faster than expected so hopefully this gets fixed in the future as this was one of the only things holding this sandwich back from being really awesome!

Kalbi Beef, Pulled Pork, Grilled Chicken Tacos ($3.99 each)

Mackenzie ordered the tacos so there isn’t much I can say about them taste wise other than they looked really delicious. Instead of the usual taco shell they used a shell that looked like Naan (which Mackenzie suspected also). He said his favourite of the 3 was the Kalbi Beef, which I am looking forward to going back to try in the near future.


The prices at Banh Mi Boys are very reasonable and you can have a great meal for under $10 which is difficult in this area. Also, if you aren’t that hungry the steamed bao and tacos are great as a snack or light meal and are both under $5. The quality of ingredients seems great also and you know you are getting the kind of meat specified unlike some of the other $2.50 banh mi shops around the city that serve mystery meat. If they were to raise the prices much higher I think it would lose some of the value though.


This is definitely a place I would return to on a regular basis as I think you get very good value for your dollar.  The food was very delicious and though there were a few little things they need to improve on, I think they will eventually get there very soon and will be producing a very good quality product. I really enjoyed my sandwich and can’t wait to return for another!

SCORE: 7/10


REVIEW UPDATE (30/12/2011)

I went back today to try the Kalbi Beef taco ($3.99) and the Grilled Chicken Banh Mi sandwich ($4.99). The taco was pretty tasty, though I found the shell to be much tougher than I expected (tastes like it was previously frozen) which was a bit of a disappointment. Fortunately the Kalbi Beef was full of flavour though so this made up for it a bit. The Grilled Chicken Banh Mi was also very flavourful like the pork belly one, though I do think I prefered the Pork Belly one over it. The toppings are still lacking flavour as I mentioned in my original post, but I am haven’t really given them much time and hope they figure this out eventually as I think it would add a lot to the sandwich. For now, my score still remains the same.

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