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Food & Drink

We Finally Tried D’s Banh Mi. Is it Worth the Wait?

The deep south of Minneapolis is a Vietnamese desert no more.

Brian Fanelli

Back in August 2022, a modest coming-soon sign for D’s Banh Mi appeared somewhat unceremoniously on the squat red food shack in my south Minneapolis neighborhood. Optimistically, the owners were quoted that summer in Racket saying they hoped to be open by November.

“My sons are the owners of the business: Dylan, Dyon, and Dustin," mother/biz partner Hilda Tov said at the time. "We’ve been searching in the neighborhood since my oldest son, Dylan, the chef, was 18. He’s 29 now. Sometime in June, this just came about, we came, saw it, loved it—it was exactly what we were looking for."

But as fall faded into winter with no news of opening day, my anticipation grew somewhat… unhinged. 

On walks through the neighborhood, my wife and I would press our faces up against the windows hoping to catch a glimpse of any new kitchen equipment inside the former Dave's Popcorn (and briefly Milk Jam) space at 1848 E. 38th St. I posted photos of minor site improvements to Twitter and constantly pestered the staff at nearby Duck Duck Coffee about whether they had heard anything lately. They hadn’t.

And then one day, about 11 months after the sign showed up, D’s Banh Mi announced on Instagram that its delivery service would be open for business starting July 4. It was going to be a soft open with a limited menu and delivery zone—and orders would need to be placed a day in advance—but it was happening. D’s was finally going to open. 

So now that I’ve had a chance to taste the food, was it worth the wait? Does D’s Banh Mi clear the ridiculously high bar my anticipation had set for it?

Miraculously, yes. Barring one or two minor exceptions, D’s fucks. 

D’s fucks hard. 

Brian Fanelli

Limited Menu, Massive Portions

For the soft launch, D’s has six menu items available: three bánh mì, two spring rolls, and a rice noodle bowl. For my Independence Day buffet, I ordered everything on the menu and invited some friends over to eat ourselves into oblivion and watch Will Smith punch an alien in the face. 

First impressions are everything, and there’s really no getting around the $14 price tag on all three of D’s bánh mì. That’s an expensive sandwich by any metric, and particularly when you consider how many bánh mìs hover around the $7 price point across the Twin Cities. 

In D's defense, these are absolutely massive sandwiches made with obvious high-quality ingredients. And, for the time being at least, that price includes the cost of delivery. The grim specter of inflation spares no one and, to me, $14 felt like a reasonable enough price all things considered.

Brian Fanelli

My favorite of the bunch was the Banh Mi Saigon, which is your classic Vietnamese cold cut combo turned up to 11. This absolutely massive sandwich is stacked to the rafters with three different types of meat, along with a heaping blend of cilantro, jalapeños, pickled carrots and daikon, mayo, and pâté. 

The meats are bold and fantastic—each has its own unique flavor and texture, and they come together as more than the sum of their parts. Thinner-than-average schmears of mayo and pâté provide a fatty, salty sweetness that adds wonderful depth to the entire sandwich without drawing attention. The pickled carrots and daikon are sweet and crunchy, the cilantro tastes like it was just picked from the garden, and the jalapeños are some of the spiciest and most flavorful I’ve had in Minnesota. The bread is closer to a soft sub roll than a crusty French loaf, though its flavor was excellent and it held together nicely until the very last bites. With a sandwich this big, that's the play.

Brian Fanelli

Lemongrass chicken showed up on a bánh mì and in a noodle bowl, and while it was excellent in both, the noodle bowl was probably my favorite dish on the entire menu. It was refreshing and bright, like the flavor equivalent of a cold shower on a hot summer day. The noodles were light yet firm, the chicken was spiced and grilled to perfection, and the veggies once again popped with boisterous flavors. This was also the spiciest dish on the menu, which you absolutely love to see. With no bread around to tamp down the heat, the jalapeños really had a chance to burn. And for all you wimps out there, you'll be relieved to know the thick-cut jalapeños are they only thing giving this dish its heat—and they're easy enough to remove yourself, or, presumably, you could have D's do it for you. 

Neither of the spring rolls blew me away on first bite, but they’re served with a killer peanut sauce that’s worth the price of admission alone. One friend was literally drinking hers from the cup like a dessert wine. Without the dipping sauce I'd be tempted to mark these as a miss. As a total package, however, I was pretty happy with the pairing.

The only true miss was the vegan bánh mì, which felt like a painting with no focal point: The tofu was too thin and silken to stand out against all of the other flavors and textures competing for your attention. You can't use pâté on a vegan sandwich, and that spread's rich depth of flavor was sorely missed, especially with no vegan alternative replacing it.

I'm psyched D's Banh Mi is finally open, and I'm even more excited to say that it's good. D's? More like A's, IMO.

D’s Banh Mi 
Delivery only (for now), order via email or Instagram DM
Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to noon

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