The team behind Big in Japan (the bar, the restaurant and the store) and Maison June Rose is continuing its takeover of the corner of St-Laurent and Pine with the addition of a new take-out Vietnamese sandwich shop in the spot where creperie Rolopan used to exist.
Banh Mi Queen opened up just in time for the weekend, one door north of the Big in Japan restaurant, with (surprise!) a focus on banh mi sandwiches, although Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk and a few salads are also on the menu. (No word yet on what the “language police” think of the decidedly non-French name.) On the menu are the classic banh mi fillings of pork, chicken and beef, as well as a tuna tataki option and in what appears to be a case of inexplicable fusion just for the sake of it, a falafel banh mi. The chicken, falafels and tuna are all available in salad form, too.
It’s the work of André Nguyen and his partner Julie Bisson, owners of the Big in Japan spots, although Bisson is reportedly taking charge, having developed an appreciation for the French bread with Vietnamese fillings via Nguyen’s mother who ran a sandwich cart in Vietnam.
If you thought banh mi was a cheap go-to lunch option, you’re in for some sticker shock with sandwich prices going into the double digits at $12 for the tuna. For comparison, most options from the ever-popular Hung Phat will set you back just four dollars — although to be fair, Banh Mi Queen has much more of a focus on design (Elise Tastet writes that it is, in fact, “très design”) and is likely using different suppliers. At those prices, let’s hope that the food safety standards are up to scratch.
Banh Mi Queen isn’t the only high-end banh mi spot opening in the Plateau, a relative desert for Vietnamese grub — up in the Mile End, Eater spies a new eatery with fancy posters named “Banh Mi, Banh Yiu”, apparently a cheesy and slightly dubious pun on the words “me” and “you” preparing to move in to a former clothing store on Saint-Viateur Street, just near Park Avenue. We’ll bring you more details when they arise.