Ever find yourself craving a Vietnamese sandwich? Or maybe a tea egg or edamame in the middle of the work day?
I used to work right in One Kendall Square in Cambridge, and I would have loved to have something like that just downstairs from my lab. It's too bad I don't work in the area anymore, because Bon Me, the popular Asian food truck, has opened up its first brick & mortar location right in One Kendall Square.
Bon Me originally started out as a food truck in Boston. Husband and wife team Patrick Lynch and Alison ("Ali") Fong entered the City of Boston's Food Truck Contest on a whim in 2010 and won. Soon afterward, they opened their first food truck.
Here it is parked right at the Rose Kennedy Greenway (dreaming back to warmer times!). There are now two trucks (a blue one and a yellow one), and you can find them throughout Boston, such as at BU East on Commonwealth Avenue, SOWA outdoor market, and the Seaport area.
Patrick and Ali live in Cambridge and really wanted to open a brick-and-mortar place in their own backyard. Their dreams are finally realized this week as Bon Me in One Kendall Square opens its doors on Friday, February 22, 2013.
I had a chance to check out their menu at their "Friends and Family" soft opening earlier last week.
The menu is relatively simple - not too different from the truck menu - although they are adding a few new dishes, such as a Carrot, Hijiki and Wheatberry Salad.
There are several fun types of Asian-inspired drinks from which to choose. I got the Thai Basil Limade, which is wonderfully fragrant and refreshingly not too sweet. The Vietnamese Ice Coffee is lighter than your typical Vietnamese iced coffee in terms of sweetness and creaminess. I would have preferred a stronger coffee, but overall the flavors were OK, and I'm glad it's not that sweet.
The Deviled Tea Egg is topped with spicy mayo and cayenne pepper and could be a great mid-day snack (much healthier than those chips in my vending machine at work!). Bryan really enjoyed this one.
The Edamame is served with a star anise and sesame salt, which is surprisingly tasty (even for someone like me who doesn't love anise). The edamame is served cold, which surprised me a bit, though that is how they serve it on the truck.
As for main dishes, you choose between three types: Sandwich ($6), Noodle Salad ($7), or Rice Bowl ($6). You then pick a "filling" to go with it. The night I went, the choices were Chinese BBQ Pork, Spice-rubbed Chicken, and Roasted Soy and Paprika Tofu.
If you choose noodles, you get a choice between soba or rice noodles. The rice noodles are a great choice for those who can't have gluten. The soba is a nuttier noodle, with a deeper flavor. I went with the soba and the tofu, which I really liked. All the vegetables were fresh, and the soft, marinated tofu was quite flavorful and carried the dish well.
Bryan went with the brown rice and spice-rubbed chicken. Bryan preferred the flavor of his chicken dish to my tofu dish, probably because the tofu is sort of sweet, and Bryan prefers savory foods in general.
Of course, if a place is called "Bon Me", you have to try their "bahn-mi" (Vietnamese sandwich). The sandwich turned out to be our favorite out of the three dishes. Not surprisingly, it's also their most popular item. It's not exactly a traditional Vietnamese bahn-mi ("decidedly unauthentic" is what they call it). After all, it is filled with Chinese BBQ Pork.
Nevertheless, the combination of the spicy mayo, pickled vegetables, and house made pate works well with the pork. The overall sandwich is tasty, and a pretty good value at $6 (especially for that area!).
The interior space is really nice. It's modern, clean, and comfortable. There isn't a ton of seating, but I anticipate this place will do a lot of lunchtime takeaway business. They also plan on ramping up their catering business, which will serve local businesses really well.
I think this will turn out to be a great, affordable option for a quick, healthy, and tasty lunch in Kendall. They plan on being open until 10PM at night, so it'll also be a great spot for a late night snack if you're hungry.
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