Stepping foot inside fast-casual newcomer Paris Banh Mi Café Bakery is a sensory overload of sorts — scents, shelves and most importantly, choices to be made. Rows of packaged Vietnamese snacks line the wall upon entry, with assorted grab-and-go offerings. A cold case touts countless treats, while a self-service case of French pastries vies for your attention across the room. This is before getting to the counter and eying the (thankfully small!) menu.
Eight banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches await, plus croissant sandwiches, burgers, and a few appetizers — think chicken popcorn, egg rolls, spring rolls and a salad.
We shared the grilled pork ($6.25) and shredded chicken (5.95). Both were fantastic — the meat was seasoned, juicy and paired well with the traditional accoutrements. One wish? That the sandwiches (about a foot in length) had been cut into two halves, which would make eating and sharing a lot easier. The freshly baked bread was the best part as it truly makes for a favorable banh mi.
With the exception of a meatless vegan offering, the banh mi sandwiches are served with julienned sour vegetables, cucumber, mayo, cilantro sprigs and sliced raw jalapenos. This mix adds a savory, tart, fiery, and refreshing twist to the juicy meat and crusty, crunchy baguette.
After weighing our options from the Parisian pastry cases and chilled dessert case, I went for the sunrise coconut mousse ($6) and my friend was intrigued by the blueberry flapjack cheesecake and ordered a slice. Paris’ desserts aren’t overly sweet — they’re on the mild side of the sugar spectrum. Neither of us loved our confection and we didn’t finish either. Another wish? That the prices were listed in the case. My small dessert — maybe 2.5 inches in diameter — was 25 cents less than my entire sandwich. It also didn’t taste like coconut or have a mousse-like texture, and when I asked one of the workers he was unsure about many of the desserts so I just guessed. It would be helpful for the staff to understand what the items in the case are, as many of the names are not descriptive.
As a fan of Vietnamese milk teas, I opted for the taro milk tea ($4.50) and added boba (50 cents), chewy tapioca pearls that add a textural twist. It was good but not memorable. My friend ordered based on the cashier’s recommendation — a crème brulee milk tea with Vietnamese coffee ($6). She didn’t love it but noted it tasted of coffee, which she liked, but the coffee flavor overpowered any semblance of crème brulee.
The space is open and a steady stream of people came for both dine-in and to go on mid-day Saturday. The staff was friendly. I will give it another go for sandwiches soon, but would skip dessert. – VnExpress News
Paris Banh Mi Café Bakery
3515 Saint Johns Bluff Road S.
Type of cuisine: Vietnamese / French.
Hours: Sunday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.;
Prices: appetizers, $4.95-$7.95; sandwiches, $5.50-$6.50; burgers, $5.50; milk tea, $4.50; signature drinks, $5.50-$6.