Entering the fast-paced newcomer Paris Banh Mi Café Bakery is a sensory overload – smells, shelves and, above all, decisions that have to be made. Rows of packaged Vietnamese snacks line the wall as you enter with a variety of take-away offerings. A cold suitcase advertises countless goodies, while a self-service suitcase of French pastries vies for your attention throughout the room. This is before you get to the counter and look at the (luckily small!) Menu.
Eight Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches as well as croissant sandwiches, burgers and a few starters await you – think of chicken popcorn, egg rolls, spring rolls and a salad.
We shared the grilled pork ($ 6.25) and the shredded chicken ($ 5.95). Both were fantastic – the meat was flavorful, juicy and went well with the traditional decorations. A desire? That the sandwiches (about a foot long) had been cut in half which would make eating and sharing a lot easier. The freshly baked bread was the best part as it really makes for a cheap banh mi.
With the exception of a meat-free vegan offer, the Banh Mi sandwiches are served with julienned sour vegetables, cucumber, mayo, coriander sprigs and sliced raw jalapenos. This mixture gives the juicy meat and the crispy, crispy baguette a hearty, sour, fiery and refreshing note.
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After weighing our options of the Parisian pastry boxes and the chilled dessert box, I opted for the sunrise coconut mousse ($ 6) and my friend was intrigued by the blueberry flapjack cheesecake and ordered a slice. The Parisian desserts aren’t overly sweet – they’re rather mild in the sugar spectrum. Neither of us loved our confections and we weren’t finished either. Nor a request? That the prices were listed in the case. My little dessert – maybe 2.5 inches in diameter – was 25 cents less than my entire sandwich. It also didn’t taste like coconut or had a foam-like texture, and when I asked one of the workers he wasn’t sure about many of the desserts so I was just guessing. It would be helpful for the staff to understand what the items are as many of the names are not descriptive.
As a fan of Vietnamese milk teas, I went for the taro milk tea ($ 4.50) and added boba (50 cents), chewy tapioca pearls that add a textural touch. It was good, but not memorable. My friend, on the recommendation of the cashier, ordered a creme brulee milk tea with Vietnamese coffee ($ 6). She didn’t love it but noticed that it tasted like coffee she liked, but the coffee taste overwhelmed any semblance of creme brulee.
The space is open and a steady stream of people came to have dinner and go out on Saturday lunchtime. The staff was friendly. I will try sandwiches again soon but would skip dessert.
Paris Banh Mi Cafe bakery
3515 Saint Johns Bluff Road S.
(904) 990-1991, parisbanhmijax.com
Type of cuisine: Vietnamese / French.
Opening times: Sunday, 8 am-8pm; Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pricing: Appetizers: $ 4.95 to $ 7.95; Sandwiches, $ 5.50 – $ 6.50; Burger, $ 5.50; Milk tea, $ 4.50; Signature drinks, $ 5.50 – $ 6.
Caron Streibich is an avid food lover who reviews restaurants in the “Life” section every two weeks. Follow her culinary adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.