The Banhwich Cafe: First Impressions

September 20, 2012 at 2:38am By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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Finally had an opportunity over the weekend to hit the new Banhwich Café on North 27th. The Café just opened at the new Saigon Plaza in late August. It offers two mainstays – banh mi and bubble tea. We are fans of good banh mi around here, and miss the old Ba Lee in downtown. What’s not to love about that unique mix of hot and cool, garden freshness and rich flavors on a freshly baked French roll? Though there are still plenty of other places in Lincoln one can find Vietnamese sandwiches, a new venue that obviously specializes in banh mi should get some people excited.

At the banhwich café, they offer 5 types of sandwiches: beef ribeye ($4.50 – and pictured above), Thai cilantro shredded chicken ($3.75), grilled pork ($3.95), cold cut ham ($3.95), and Korean-marinated ribeye ($4.50). I had the ribeye sandwich and was very pleased. For one thing, the french roll itself was absolutely fresh, light, and perfectly textured. That to me is one of the key, fundamental requirements of a good banh mi, and I was not disappointed. Likewise, the fresh cilantro, pickled veggies and mayo were all top quality and crunchy fresh without a hint of sogginess. The beef was tender and nicely cooked, and quite mild. I would say that the relative proportions of the ingredients were spot on. The sandwich was certainly not heavy, nor was it too light. It was the perfect combination of size, flavor and freshness.

Where I was surprised however was at the relatively high price. Banh mi is typically well under $4 in most restaurants. Most places out west have banh mi at $3 a sandwich and sometimes $2.50 or even $2. If I recall the old Ba Lee here in downtown Lincoln was even selling many of their sandwiches at $2.75. So the Banhwich Café’s prices are higher in comparison. I liked my sandwich a lot, but whether or not others decide they justify the premium prices is a subjective call. For me, the jury is still out. I’ll have to go back again in another week or so and try it again. 

The Café also has bubble tea at $3.75 in a variety of flavors, including avocado, mango, jack fruit, strawberry, banana, lychee, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi, and papaya. I’m not normally a big fan of sweetened tea or sweet drinks in general, but I tried the strawberry bubble tea and found it to be pretty good, with a healthy dose of tapioca balls in them.

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In addition to the bubble tea, Banhwich Café also offers fresh sugar cane juice in small ($3) and large sizes ($5). They even had fresh sugar cane on display on the front counter (above).

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If you’ve never tried sugar cane juice before, it’s definitely worth a shot. The taste is hard to explain, but it has a very sweet taste (obviously) and a very slight sort of grassy, almost caramel-like hint to it. It’s a great summer time drink. Although again, I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks and not the best judge of sugar cane. Ms. T however is a sugar cane juice connoisseur and ordered a small cup (above), and said that it was very good, albeit with a more processed taste than what she normally prefers.

One thing I should mention is that the Banhwich Café is definitely more of a take-away place than an eat-in establishment. There are a few tables and chairs outside of the Café itself, but no seating inside other than a bench to wait for take-away orders. However, when we were there it seemed as if there was plenty of take-away action going on.

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In anycase, good luck to the owners and staff of the Banhwich Café! Overall, I have very good positive impressions of this new establishment, and I know I’ll definitely be back.

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The Comments

Steve September 20, 2012 at 4:06am

You said they have 5 types, and none were veggie-only.  For that alone, I would find it hard to visit; I eat meat but by lunch buddy doesn’t.

Nikkidemas September 20, 2012 at 2:25pm

How was the speed?  I sometimes wish Green Papaya had a drive-thru for lunch smile

Mr. T September 20, 2012 at 2:47pm

Good point. It would be nice if they offered a sea food or tofu option for a sandwich.

Mr. T September 20, 2012 at 2:50pm

We were there on a Sunday about 11:30 AM. It seemed to me like a lot of people were phoning in orders for pick up, so it might be wise to do that. We just came and ordered, and everything was ready in about 5-7 minutes. A weekday lunch hour might be very different however.

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