Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys, the place I’ve oft heard about but never been to. On par with Burrito Boyz and Smoke’s Poutinerie for after-clubbing eats. BMB is situated on Queen West, just west of Spadina and I finally convinced boyfriend to go there for dinner. This proved to be the best decision I could ever make. Having known myself for 22 years now, I should have known walking in, that we would pretty much “accidentally” order everything on the menu.

We started off with two Banh Mi, the restaurant’s namesake. For those who don’t know, an original Banh Mi (which means bread or sandwich in Vietnamese) is a kind of Vietnamese sandwich served on a crusty baguette, has various unidentifiable meats and pâtés in it, topped with pickled radish, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili peppers if you’re feeling feisty. We got duck confit, and pork belly, and just having one each would have filled us up enough without all the other things we bought. These were really good. Warm and meaty, it’s a nice mix of western and eastern cuisines. I liked them alright, but I think I prefer my original banh mi to these (which you can buy for $2.50 up the street) but that’s okay because they offer some other great things on the menu.

This is the beef cheek steamed bao. I love beef cheek because it is always so soft and moist, and this one had a great smokey flavour to it. Topped with cucumber, cilantro, and pickled radish and carrots, it’s stuffed in a steamed bao pocket. In Chinese, it’s called a “siopao” and in Vietnamese, a “banh bao”. It’s a white steamed bun that’s like a bread, but spongy, airy, and slightly sweet.

We move onto the tacos and I am a sucker for coleslaw. We ordered a squid taco and a kalbi beef taco and it came with all the fixings of a banh mi with the addition of the coleslaw and kimchi. Kalbi beef is a korean style short rib beef. It’s got a sweet flavour which contrasts well with the tanginess of the coleslaw and pickled carrots. Very yummy, very messy to eat. The three types of sandwiches are pretty much the same in fillings, but you can change up how you want it served: as a banh mi, a taco, or a steamed bao.

I saved you the best for last though, because this is what the people really come for:

Kimchi fries.

The perfect french fries topped with perfect pulled pork and perfect kimchi, as well as mayo and a bunch of green onions makes this dish, well, perfect. It’s like a poutine on steroids. The crispy fries compliment the soft, sweet pulled pork compliment the crunchy tangy spicy kimchi that makes this something you must try when you visit Toronto. You won’t find it anywhere else in Toronto, and any imitations  are just that. Imitations. Cause nothing comes close to the perfection of this dish.

Ahh, the first day of school.

The first day at a new school is a strange feeling. Long hallways that lead to only God knows where, feeling like everyone knows more than you, the overall sense of being lost in space. But I’m sure that will all come to pass. I’m already beginning to get over the “newness” of the school. I guess spending 13 hours there on the first day helps.

My day didn’t start off perfectly as planned. I woke up late and missed the train I intended to take. Luckily, I had wanted to get there earlier because the next train was going to be cutting it a bit close. Even then, I only had 15 minutes to wake up, get up, get ready, and head out the door. I start my car with morning dew on the windshield, morning dew that I hadn’t seen all summer. Oh how I did not miss you.

Powering down the road, trying not to miss the next train, OK Go’s upbeat “Invincible” came on my iPod. It seems even my music is trying to give me a boost today, and as gay as it sounds, it did make me feel pumped. My car is shouting at me, “You’re invincible!” Good enough. Thank you car. Yes, it did please me.

As for the video, I like the part where things explode and Damien is damn sexy.

Next song, “Mustang Sally” comes on with Wilson Pickett crooning, “guess you better slow your mustang down.” I’m a pretty superstitious person, so I slowed down and just as I did, the person in front of me braked hard, coming to a stand still. We all sit there in the lane, while the lane next to us was moving quickly. I switch over, and saw that the first car in line, I kid you not, was a black mustang that had its emergency lights on, and was probably stalled.

Anywho, I get on the train without a hitch, sat on it to get to Union. Now, I only had 20 minutes to get from the station to class, a walk that usually takes me 30 minutes. It was invigorating, I hit all the crosswalk lights, walking in a crowd of people moving as one. I felt like a herded cow. I did get stopped at one light about halfway through my trip and my heart was beating fast, and instead of thinking, “I’m tired,” I thought, “Wow, I wonder how many calories I’m burning? Do I feel myself getting thinner?” Hahahhahaha. Good enough!

So, I made it in time for my 8:30 class. I walked in and everyone was mega quiet. To my delight, everyone looked pretty normal, save for one hipster fuck with his shitty moustache. A 3 hour class, we went through the history of type and got assigned some homework. Yay. They’re providing us with a copy of “Type Tool” which is a more basic version of “Font Lab” which is what people use to design typefaces. I’m extremely excited to learn how to use this new piece of software.

Ze lecture hall avant class.

11:30, I rushed down to find my next class. I walked all the way around the first floor, and couldn’t find it. I finally gave and asked the guy at the front desk. “It’s over there on the right.” D’oh. So it’s in this lecture hall that seats quite a bit of people. It’s my only class with Zizi, and actually the only day that we go to school on the same day. She has no classes on Wednesday and Friday and I have no classes on Monday and Thursday. Shucks, just bad luck I guess.

I sat in the chairs, trying to figure out how the table things worked, and failing for about 15 minutes, when Zizi came and called me over to sit with her. She showed me how to use the table and thank goodness because I would have broken the stupid chair, had it not been for her. Here’s to two years left in lectures. We had a 2 hour class in which another project was assigned, except this doesn’t seem too bad. Our assignment was to go to Nuit Blanche. Sweet.

That class ended and I had my first break of the day. So Zizi and I went to lunch at the Village on the Grange, the food court across the street from school. It’s very much like Alexis Nihon, except that it’s closer and more vegan-friendly.

My lunch @ Wikki hut with some spicy chicken

Zizi's lunch @ Wikki Hut with Tofu and Mango Salad

So, after lunch, Zizi had to rush off to class, while I sat around by myself. I did get some errands done, tried to get my student card, tried to get a locker, tried to get a textbook. Failing at all three. Saaad. But finally, I went to class in the same lecture hall as my second class, except this time, it was noticeably more full. Even the balcony was filled. Yes, the lecture hall has a balcony. Pretty sweet.

This class has so many tutorials being run, its own blog, and each lecture is posted as a podcast. The future has arrived. I made my first friend in this class, a korean fella who was sitting next to me and was having trouble with the table thing, like I did.

A note about Koreans. They are everywhere. They even have their own club at school, called KASA, which I can only assume means, Koreans Against Similar Asians. Why won’t you let me be one of youuu? Their club has these cute fucking pink tshirts with a cute fucking owl on it. Fuck you guys. And fuck your cuteness. Fuck.

Anyways, that lecture ends, I have another hour before my next class. I spent the time text messaging and video calling. I need to make friends, but all in due time.

My next class is on the sixth floor, and this is the view from my goddamn classroom window:

Behh, long class. But it’s my last class of the day. We watched this fantastic old video called Typomania, dealing with letterpress and the movement from linotype/monotype to digital typesetting and printing. Hosted by Erik Spiekermann, it featured an interview with a young Neville Brody.

I only found the 7 minute version of it, but we watched a 25 minute long version. I’m not sure if this version has the interview with Neville Brody or not, but it features Erik Spiekermann in a supermarket. Worth it.

Anyway, that class finished up at 9:30 pm, and I embarked on my walk home with a blistered toe and a hurting ankle. Here is a photographic tour of my walk home:

Gotta love the view now before I go and take it for granted later.

A fantastic church on Bay and Queen.

Walking downtown, in the dark, amongst tall buildings. Scary but beautiful.

And the bus offers a complimentary sperm detection service.

And that, friends, is a nice little summary of my first day at university. More pics to come on my Tumblr!

Some pictures and captions and talking too

1. Mado’s Pepper Sauce

Found this bottle of hot sauce on sale in one of the antique shops that Claire, Adrienne, and I visited in Parkdale, on Roncevalles. When the woman at the counter let me open one and smell it, I had to have it.It had strong pepper scent, and me, I love my pepper, with what seemed to be a bit of mustard, some dill, maybe some horse radish, and a hint of citrus.I don’t think any of those are actually in the ingredients though, but it seems to emulate all those flavours in one simple sniff. I’ll have to check the ingredients label when I get home.

Anyway, one of my bad habits is my tendency to buy things on a whim. So I bought it. Boy was I not disappointed. We went to a pub to grab a bite to eat after an afternoon of antique shopping and I opened up the pepper sauce to taste with my chicken.

It was like heaven exploding in my mouth.

It has this intense flavour and the spiciness is like a subtle kick in the taste buds. It’s like  a tiger creeping up in the tall jungle grass. Slowly… slowly… BAM. THERE IT IS. AND IT IS MAJESTIC. We had a barbecue a couple of days later and I mixed it up with some mayonnaise and slathered in on my burger with some relish. One of the best burgers I have ever had. The sauce makes it and it is beautiful.

2. Wonder Girls’ Wonder Coincidence

Ahh, the Wonder Girls. Kpop sensation full of little cute fucking asian girls.

I got dropped off in downtown Hamilton to hang out with some cousins at the local bubble tea house and the instant I walked in, they were talking about how I was the second coincidence of one sort or another. Not five minutes later, one of my uncle’s friends, whom I had only met a couple of days earlier, walked in and we had an awkward exchange of greetings.

Moving on, my cousins and I sit, talk, make fun of each other, you know the things we do best. Then a couple of people that David vaguely knew walked in and sat behind our table, but kept to their own. Ding ding, my phone announces a message from Adri.

“Hahaha I just read that the Wondergirls are in Mississauga RIGHT NOW for a concert.”

Note: I just moved from Montreal to Mississauga. So I read this message out loud because I know a couple of my cousins are into the whole kpop scene. Then, David’s acquaintances turned around and said, “Are you talking about the Wonder Girls??? We just came from their concert!!!”

This was funny because I associate kpop with girls and girly boys. So we all got excited and I got a picture of their pass, and a picture of their picture with the girls. A night of coincidence.