A Vietnamese take on Asian fusion opens its doors on Foggy Bottom Monday.
BONMi, at 19th and I streets, serves affordable Vietnamese “bánh mì” sandwiches made with meat and tofu and prepared using a healthy sous-vide cooking method. The sous-vide method utilizes vacuum-sealed food prepared in a water bath, cooking the ingredients at a slow but steady temperature.
“There’s nothing fried, there’s nothing baked, there’s no oil, there’s no sugar, there’s no saturated fats. It’s all natural food items made with marinade,” Lynne Jacoby, a principal at JBH Advisory Group, the concept developer and group of investors behind BONMi said.
JBH Advisory Group took a keen interest in opening a restaurant based on Vietnamese suvi cooking.
“There’s really nothing like this in the area. It’s really hard to find really healthy food that’s also really tasty, and I think that’s what you’re going to get here,” Jacoby said.
Sandwiches can be tailored to any diet, offering three types of chicken, two pork options, beef and an “other than meat” menu category with chile garlic tofu and butternut squash. All sandwiches are prepared and served on a baguette, topped with pickled veggies, cucumber, cilantro and chili-lime mayo.
The BONMi menu adds a crisp, clean taste to the “bánh mì” sandwiches, additionally offering hand-made lemonade and iced tea.
Salads can be created from any ingredients, and a house favorite, the “Kickshaw,” comes with rice noodles, cabbage, fresh herbs, bean sprouts, pickled veggies and peanut dressing.
Summer rolls stuffed with butternut squash or BONMi chicken are also side options, and an all-natural dessert bar rounds out the menu.
“They’ll be something here for everybody. You’ll never see a burger on the menu,” Jacoby said.
BONMi is the first restaurant of its kind, opened specifically in D.C. with plans to open two more locations in D.C.
“We really felt Washington was the area we wanted to try first, based on the demographic here. It proved to be one of the best places to open this type of restaurant,” Jacoby said.
The suvi cooking method is a staple to Vietnamese cooking, but it has not had widespread public exposure yet.
Along with healthy choices, BONMi also offers affordable prices to students. All of BonMi’s menu items are under $10.
BONMi’s slogan, “do good, be good,” applies to all aspects of the restaurant. BONMi supports Hands Around the World, a charitable organization that brings clean water to depressed areas in some of the poorest nations. For every bottle of water sold at BONMi, 20 percent of the proceeds go to Hands Around the World.
In preparation for the restaurant opening, BONMi will be giving out 25,000 free meal vouchers over the course of several months to introduce the BONMi taste to Washingtonians, hoping to entice a little Vietnamese variety into the District diet.
“We wanted to serve really good healthy food that still really tasted amazing, but that you could buy cheaper,” Jacoby said.
Additionally, BONMi is in the process of putting the restaurant on GWorld for students.
“I have never been so excited about a menu in my life. Once you have it, you cannot not have it,” Jacoby said.
This article was updated on Oct. 24, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that BONMi will use a “suvi” cooking method when the correct spelling is “sous-vide.”