The Holy Cow banh mi from Mai Bun Mee, located at 850 South State Street.
Mai Bun Mee is owned by the same people behind the very successful Oh Mai in South Salt Lake and Cottonwood Heights. I was expecting to walk in and see the familiar array of menu items offered at Oh Mai, like the ever-popular S8 (garlic ribeye) or my personal favorite, the S12 (pho brisket), but between the different name and varied menu, it’s obvious that the owners are trying out a different concept at this location.
Rather than being a centerpiece of the menu, Pho is relegated to being listed as a “special,” and is not even printed on their regular menu. But not to worry–the pho is just as tasty as it is at Oh Mai, however at a slightly smaller portion size (no small size option, either, just the regular large size).
The banh mi also have a bit of a twist. Similar prices to Oh Mai, higher quality meat, but don’t expect to walk in and order the S12, for example, because they don’t have it here. The sandwiches here don’t translate directly from the other locations. Anna, the owner of Bun Mee and Oh Mai, explained that their sandwiches are a bit more substantial than those found at Oh Mai, with the sandwiches at Bun Mee featuring heavier sauces and ingredients, and higher quality meat. The S8 at Oh Mai roughly translates to the “Holy Cow,” and features different ingredients (seared tenderloin, romaine lettuce, chili aioli, sautéed mushrooms, cilantro, jalapeño, and house dressing). The next time I swing by, I have my sights set on The Sinner, which features pork belly, pickled carrots, and a garlic fish lime vinaigrette. Or perhaps the the Fisherman, featuring seared tilapia, mango slaw, and garlic aioli.
I guess what I’m getting at is don’t go into Mai Bun Mee and expect it to be an Oh Mai clone. But that’s certainly not a bad thing. For some reason, prior to stopping by, I had wrongly assumed it was the same stuff, different name. While not earth-shatteringly different, it is different. Anna, the owner, said they could change the name to Oh Mai and there would immediately be a crowd, but they want to try something a bit different and see how it works. Hopefully they don’t flip the switch on a concept change, though, because I’d like to see these creative sandwiches continue to have a home.
Mai Bun Mee Sandwich Shop
850 S. State Street, Salt Lake City
Monday – Saturday 11am – 8:30pm