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Last updated: Tue. Apr. 22, 2014 - 06:32 am EDT

THE MAIN COURSE COLUMN

Restaurant review: Banh Mi Barista

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Banh Mi Barista

Where: 5320 Coldwater Road Phone: 387-7222 Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday Web: http://bmb-1.com/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/BanhMiBarista Menu sampler * Egg roll: $1 * Shrimp and pork spring rolls: $3.50 * Chicken rice noodle bowl: $6.25 * Beef rice noodle bowl: $7 * Pho beef noodle soup: $7.25 * Korean BBQ Vietnamese sandwich: $4.25 * Viet meatball sandwich: $4 * Bubble teas: $3.75 small; $4.25 large * Smoothies: $3.75 small; $4.25 large

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When one person offers me a restaurant recommendation, I thank them and add it to my list. When a second one makes the same recommendation, I move it up higher on my list. When the recommendations start piling up, I know I need to visit that place now.

Today's highly recommended place is Banh Mi Barista.

At Banh Mi, the drink choices are as important as anything else on the menu. Lime shake ups or Vietnamese coffee would be interesting enough on other menus, but the real standouts are the smoothies and bubble teas. My friend chose the peach smoothie.

I couldn't resist a drink that had bubble in the name. I selected the green apple bubble tea. My server suggested that I top my tea with strawberry popping Boba - small tapioca-like beads that burst in your mouth with fruity flavor. This made for a great combination of sweet and sour. It was refreshing and I had a great time popping those beads throughout my meal. I can't wait to try another combination.

I picked the chicken noodle bowl (Vietnamese salad) as my main course. A plentiful amount of tender chicken topped this salad, which contained finely chopped cabbage, cucumber, cilantro leaves, pickled carrots and sweet daikon (Asian radish). This rainbow of fresh ingredients was beautifully served on a bed of translucent rice noodles.

The salad tasted as good as it looked. The chicken had a mild peanut aroma and flavor, and the vegetables were crunchy. The accompanying sweet house dressing added another dimension of flavor. Cilantro is a powerful herb, and I was pleased it didn't overpower the rest of the flavors.

This dish is perfect for a spring lunch, and I've been craving it almost since I left the restaurant.

My friend's Korean BBQ sandwich was as colorful as my entree. A heap of beef, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, and cilantro spilled out of the bun. He opted for non-spicy - without jalapeno peppers. He described the sandwich as “a delicious combination of textures smells and flavors … crusty bread, beef thinly sliced, the crunch of cucumbers, sweet carrot and fragrant cilantro.”

The marinated beef was super tender and packed with flavor. These sandwiches are small, so I recommend those with heartier appetites order two.

The egg rolls were crispy and had a mixture of ingredients. They weren't full of cabbage like others I've had. Neither of us could discern what made them so delicious, but definitely order one of these.

The strip mall atmosphere is nondescript, but the popping Boba bubbles added plenty of atmosphere throughout our lunchtime conversation. I'm glad I listened to all the recommendations; consider this my recommendation to you.

lweston@news-sentinel.com


This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Laura Weston-Elchert at lweston@news-sentinel.com, or call her at 461-8468.


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