Two New Vietnamese Options for You to Try This Week

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Rice Paper Scissors founders Katie Kwan (left) and Valerie Luu (right); photo by Phil Carter.

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Bun Mee’s exterior. Photo by Daisy Chow.

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The ‘smokey eggplant’ banh mi sandwich at Bun Mee.

Last week I received a note from Valerie Luu of Little Knock that she and fellow Vietnamese street food vendor Katie Kwan of KitchenSidecar were partnering up for a second evening of ~RICE PAPER SCISSORS~, a pop-up Vietnamese café. Dinner is this Thursday March 31st from 6pm until their last dish is served.

They will be serving southern Vietnamese dishes, including handmade pâté and charcuterie banh mi, snail pho, duck confit green papaya salad, and imperial rolls. You’ll be able to get food to go or grab a seat at the mini tables they’ll be setting up. Where will this all go down? They’ll tweet the exact address (it’ll be in the Mission) on Thursday March 31st; follow @littleknock and @kitchensidecar for the deets. Don’t tweet? Non-Twitterers can sign up for the Rice Paper Scissors email list, and they’ll slip the address into your inbox.

And on Friday April 1st, Fillmore’s ~BUN MEE~ will have their grand opening (although they appear to be in soft opening mode now), offering banh mi-inspired sandwiches, as well as salads, rice bowls, salad and crispy rolls, and other sides. At a media preview last Saturday, editorial assistant Daisy got a sneak peek of the new restaurant and modern-Vietnamese menu. Bun Mee’s kitchen, to be led by Leo Pearl (Betelnut, Cafe Giovanni in New Orleans), showcased quite a few of their sandwiches, including the show-stopping ‘sloppy bun’ (red curry ground pork, house garlic aioli, shaved onion, Thai basil, jalapeños) served with a sunny-side up egg (add an organic, free-range egg to anything on the menu for $1.50—it’s an option you’ll want to use on several items). Other sandwiches to note were the ‘smokey eggplant’ with cauliflower relish and red curry aioli ($6.25), and the more traditional ‘Bun Mee combo’ ($5.95) with hand-carved house-roasted pork, pâté de campagne, Molinari mortadella, and garlic aioli. All sandwiches come with shaved onion, pickled carrot and daikon, jalapeños, and cilantro, and, since authentic bread was really important to owner Denise Tran, the bread is being made daily by a bakeshop in San Jose.

The gluten-intolerant diner can look beyond the sandwiches to the entrée salads and rice bowls, like the caramel citrus rice bowl with grilled chicken ($11.95), avocado slices, pickled green papaya, daikon sprouts, orange and grapefruit segments, served over garlic rice (made with chicken fat; that’s a good thing), and topped with crispy shallots, cilantro, and lime vinaigrette. For sides, the pineapple in the salad rolls (2 for $5.50) gave them a sweet twist while the sweet potato fries ($4.95) had good texture and flavor, punched up by red curry aioli dip.

Appropriately, the sweet of the evening also came in sandwich form: coconut cookie sandwiches made of thin, crisp chocolate wafers sandwiching coconut cream filling, edges rolled in toasted coconut—kinda like Oreos, but fresher, and coconut-flavored. While Bun Mee’s liquor license is pending, you can still enjoy beverages like their housemade Kaffir limeade or strawberry lychee agua fresca (though the drinks were quite sweet sans booze). Looks like this is going to be a good spot for a meal that’s as tasty as your favorite hole-in-the-wall banh mi shop, but better looking (check the zinc counters and vintage-mod look) and with fresh and modern twists at wallet-friendly prices. Daily 11am-10pm. 2015 Fillmore St. at Pine, 415-800-7696.