Battle of the bánh mi

Café Kem vs. Bun Mi — who comes out on top?

by Kara Nesvig

Move over muffulettas and poâÄô boys. Báhn mi, a French baguette sandwich with a French-Vietnamese twist, is having its 15 minutes of fame in Twin Cities cuisine. The sammy is so popular even the Walker’s ritzy 20.21 added the dish to its menu. A&E, big báhn mi fans ourselves, did a little scoping for the five-star sandwich, pitting our very own Bun Mi against Eat Street’s brand spanking new Café Kem . Who came out on top in this battle of the báhn mi? Stay tuned to see. But first, whatâÄôs in báhn mi? ItâÄôs stuffed with vegetables, usually pickled carrots, cilantro and cucumbers, meat (often pork) and a pâté dressing. Báhn mi sandwiches are a lighter, fresher alternative to the cheese-heavy, mediocre Subway creations. Campus’s Bun Mi has been around for about a year, filling up students and professors during their lunch hours. Their $4.75 sandwiches are made with onions, cilantro, carrots, jalapeño, a special mayo and daikon, which is an Asian-style radish. You can do a classic báhn mi filled with pork or one stuffed with grilled beef or lemongrass chicken. Café Kem, which just got raves from Minnesota Monthly’s food critic Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, opened its doors about two weeks ago. The decor is polished chic, a harmonious blend of dark brown, rich orange and calming aqua. Its báhn mi sandwiches are only $3.75 and they boast bubble tea, coffee and an über trendy frozen yogurt bar in addition to their cuisine of bánh mi and panini. HereâÄôs the rundown. Bun Mi Advantages: -Close to campus -Just $4.75 for a sandwich -More dinner options, including curry, wontons and salads. -Also boasts bubble tea -Com”bun”ation special, where $5.99 gets you a sandwich, fries and pop. Café Kem Advantages: -Super cheap, with tax, our sandwiches were just $4.01. That’s about the same price as a latte. -Free wi-fi, chic decor -DIY yogurt bar, flavors include raspberry and lychee, with jellybeans, chocolate and fruit to top (They charge $.42 per ounce for yogurt) -Delicious wonton chips come along with the meal -Eat Street location offers more people-watching and variety. The verdict ItâÄôs a tie! Both are equally delicious places to satisfy your cravings. Price-wise, it evens out; what you save at Café Kem, you might pay in bus fare or gas. Bun Mi gets points for its large side menu, while Café KemâÄôs fro-yo bar earns cred from those of us with a sweet tooth.

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled bánh mi. It has since been corrected.