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New Vietnamese Sandwich Joint BONMi Opening In October

Bahn Mi Sandwich

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 09/21/11 04:59 PM ET Updated: 11/21/11 05:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Another bánh mì joint is headed to the District of Columbia. BONMi, a Vietnamese-tinged sandwich and salad shop, will open at 900 19th St. NW in October.

The menu will be anchored by the increasingly popular Vietnamese sandwich, here served on a baguette topped with a marinated protein -- you get to choose from three types of spiced chicken, pork meatballs, garlic black pepper pork, brisket, garlic tofu or butternut squash -- house-pickled carrots and daikon radish, cucumber, cilantro and chili-lime mayonnaise. Salad options offered essentially seem to be bánh mì without the bread. Traditional summer rolls in soft rice paper come with chicken or butternut squash fillings.

BONMi is one of several local establishments to capitalize on the growing bánh mì trend. Others include ShopHouse, Chipotle's new Asian fast-casual restaurant concept, which opened last week with four bánh mì varieties. (Washington City Paper's Chris Shott thought the pork and chicken meatball bánh mì tasted a bit like falafel.)

Capital Hill newcomer Ba Bay, a modern Vietnamese spot that opened last year, also features the sandwich on its lunch menu and even hosted a bánh mì smackdown with five other noted area eateries back in March. Each offered its own version of the sandwich for judgement by patrons of the ticketed event. Proof's Haidar Karoum walked away victorious with his rendition, a housemade ciabatta roll filled with liver mousse, head cheese, pork shank terrine, pork roll, five spice roasted pork shoulder, cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, jalapeño, cilantro and mayo.

Bánh mì hysteria is hardly just a D.C.-area food frenzy. The sandwich has risen to such heights of popularity that its anglicized punctuation, 'banh mi,' was added in March to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Will the influx of bánh mì options steer people away from more traditional eateries? Only time will tell. Virginia's Eden Center, widely-considered to be a bastion of real-deal bánh mì and other Vietnamese delicacies, is currently in the middle of a gang-crime probe that has businesses worried about the center's reputation.

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