Banh Mi Boy (https://www.facebook.com/banhmiboyorlando) is a counter in the back of Tien Hung Market Oriental Foods, a Vietnamese grocery store in Orlando’s Mills 50 district, at 1112 E Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803 (directly southeast of the major intersection of Colonial and Mills Avenue. There is no shortage of places to get delicious banh mi, French-inspired Vietnamese sub sandwiches on crusty baguettes, in the Mills 50 district, but I had been hearing good things about this place for a while. As much as I love Paris Banh Mi Cafe Bakery and always sing its praises to anyone who asks (and plenty who don’t), I also love branching out and trying new restaurants to discover different takes on favorite foods or brand-new favorites.
You may notice immediately that the Banh Mi Boy Facebook page I linked to above doesn’t include any information, or even a menu, so I took the liberty of photographing the menu above the counter. Make sure you right-click both photos and open them in a new tab for larger images.
On my first visit, I bought two sandwiches. For $6.99 each, you can’t go wrong. They aren’t exactly foot-longs, but they are substantial enough (no pun intended) to get two meals out of one sandwich — although I usually eat a whole banh mi in one sitting. The top one is the #1 Tien Hung Special (banh mi đặc biệt), usually the “special combination” with a variety of cured meats: pork roll, pork belly, head cheese, and pate (I’m assuming; I could be missing one or be wrong on one of the others). If you’ve never had a banh mi before, this is the one I’d recommend, for the most interesting blend of flavors, textures, and colors. The meats may be unfamiliar to American diners, but if you like deli meats and cold cuts, these really aren’t that different from various hams, salamis, bolognas, and other porky cured delicacies.The bottom one is the #3, cured pork belly, which was also really good. You can see how they both come dressed with sliced fresh cucumbers and jalapeño peppers, fresh cilantro, and pickled shredded carrot and daikon radish, making everything taste very cool, refreshing, and crunchy. What you can’t see are the smears of creamy mayo (or possibly even butter?) that lubricate the inner baguette surfaces, plus the rich, savory pate (think liverwurst, but better). I would definitely order both in the future.
Well, I might not have returned so soon, but I forgot to photograph the menu on my first visit, and since there are no menus online, I wanted this review to be useful. And as long as I was there, I decided to get two more banh mi sandwiches for two more meals!
This was the #8, the fried fish roll. It contained slices of a processed cold cut made of fish, almost like a fish bologna. It didn’t smell or taste overwhelmingly fishy in a bad way, and had an interesting chewy texture that I didn’t expect, but liked. But then again, I’ve made no secret on this blog of my love of cured, smoked, pickled, and processed seafood.
And this was the #14, the pate banh mi. Pate is usually my favorite ingredient on just about any banh mi, but I rarely see it offered alone. I figured that if I like the pate so much, why not finally try a sandwich with just that? Honestly, I was hoping for a lot more pate because the usual meats on the đặc biệt weren’t there to accompany it, but it wasn’t spread on very thick. It still tasted good — that rich, almost livery taste that I appreciate.
So yeah, that’s Banh Mi Boy. They offer some other prepared Vietnamese snacks and foods that are unfamiliar to me — things I have yet to try — but when you go to a sandwich place, you probably want to try the sandwiches. I know I do. Like I said, I liked it enough to go two times, relatively close together, and I would definitely return again. Tien Hung Market Oriental Foods may not be Orlando’s nicest or more inviting Asian market (that would be Lotte Plaza Market on West Colonial Drive and John Young Parkway, which has an entire food court), but it’s worth a visit to try some of the great banh mi sandwiches here. And I’m always a fan of restaurants “hidden” inside other businesses, from grocery stores to convenience stores, office buildings to bowling alleys.