Hidden away in the Thai capital, a cheerful Thai-Filipino might be serving the best banh mi you’ll ever eat.
Located deep in Soi Sukhumvit 50, family-run Bun Me has been a quiet staple for expats in the On Nut area since August 2017. You know a place is good when it’s been popularized almost entirely by word-of-mouth.
“About 70 percent of customers are Westerners. 20 percent are Japanese, and 10 percent are Thai,” owner Sydfrey Sanchez, 29, said. “I thought there would be more Thais since Thailand and Vietnam are neighboring countries.”
Although some Vietnamese cuisine is readily accessible in Bangkok, finding banh mi, especially the good kind, can be a challenge.
Eating a crispy baguette with both gun chiang Chinese sausage and Vietnamese sausage may seem counterintuitive to a Thai tongue. But the Traditional Banh Mi (150 baht) quickly puts those worries to rest with red onion, liberal coriander, and pate to bind the meat with a bed of French bread.
An even better choice is the Pork Belly Banh Mi (130 baht), full of chunky grilled pork.
But our favorite by far was the Grilled Beef Banh Mi (159 baht), full of succulent, hearty beef. Ask for extra chili so it tastes like an Isaan-Saigon lovechild, full of the zapp spiciness of beef eaten with somtam, but in a baguette lined with pate.
For a vegetarian option, order the Tofu Banh Mi (120 baht). Vegan options are available – just ask them to hold the mayo. Slap on an egg for 10 baht, or double meat fillings by adding 50 baht.
All banh mi come with the same umami sauces of pate and homemade mayo, so don’t expect different sauces for each meat option. The formula seemed to work well for the three sandwiches we tried though. A cross-section of a sandwich showed that the fillings had penetrated deep into the home-baked bread.
We also couldn’t get enough of the pickled carrot and cucumber, which offer a crunchy sweetness to the amalgam of flavors.
You’ll still get baguette-mouth from eating banh mi at Bun Me – you know, when the roof of your mouth hurts from brushing against crusty baguette. It’s worth it, though.
Stamped loyalty cards at the shop were a testament to its small, loyal fanbase. Sanchez estimates that the On Nut branch makes about 70 sandwiches per weekday, and 120 per day on the weekends.
Sanchez, who came to Thailand in 2011 and speaks fluent Thai, decided to open Bun Me after visiting Ho Chi Minh City on vacation. His mother does a lot of the cooking, while his girlfriend helps out at the shop from time to time.
The Sukhumvit 50 joint has only six to seven tables and offers a few coffee options that range from 35 to 45 baht. Bun Me’s second branch, Bun Me 2 Go, is located down Sukhumvit 69/1 next to W District at Phra Khanong and does not offer seating.
Although delivery is available via Grab, Line Man, and Get, we recommend eating in for the freshest banh mi experience – when the baguette’s just toasted, pickles cool, and meat warm. Expect a 7-minute wait for each banh mi at the Sukhumvit 50 branch.
Bun Me is about an 8-minute walk from BTS On Nut and is open from 10am to 10pm.
Bun Me 2 Go is about a 5-minute walk from BTS Phra Khanong and is open from noon to 10pm. Both branches are closed on Mondays.