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Published May 14th 2017
I crave a deconstructed sandwich - said no one ever
There's something comfortable and familiar about the lunchtime Vietnamese street food eatery Bite Mi on Unley Road. Maybe it's the now ubiquitous Banh Mi display of bread rolls next to julienned pickled vegetables and verdant fresh herbs. Maybe it's the fast, friendly service and bustling lunchtime trade, or the door swinging continuously as it funnels workers in and disgorges them out, bread roll in hand. Perchance it could be the wood table or counter panelling contributing to a certain je ne sais quoi.
Or perhaps it's borne from something else. In the age of "food experiences" and foodie-ism one can be forgiven for viewing every meal as aspiring, or at least appearing to aspire towards, pushing the culinary envelope. Advancement. Reinvention. Refinement. Deconstruction.
But there's a case to be made about food that does not challenge expectation, food which does not question the palate or confront the digestive tract.
Familiarity is precisely what Bite Mi offers and achieves. Walk into the small cafe during the opening hours of 10:30am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and a small but changing menu ranges from quick, serviceable assemble-as-you-wait banh mi bread rolls to piping hot bowls of steaming pho. The options include rice with fried egg and barbecue pork (sometimes the latter option is crossed out), dim sims, chicken (crispy, lemongrass, teriyaki), tuna, vermicelli salad, cold rolls and spring rolls. All the usual drink options are available including Vietnamese coffee, a sure-fire lunchtime pick-me-up.
A steaming, fragrant bowl of pho with coriander, basil, chili and a lemon wedge on the side, as well as Sriracha hot sauce and Hoi Sin sauce.
There is little to surprise although plenty to satisfy. The options are recognizable and served fresh. Salty chicken and roast pork are contrasted with crunchy spring rolls; flavours balanced with the sweet and sour tang of fish sauce lightened with piquant pickled vegetables, fiery chilli and zesty herbs.
Prices are good and portions are what one would expect for a lunchtime Vietnamese cafe in Adelaide's inner south.
Steamed rice with a fried egg and roast pork
If you're in Unley and looking for a quick lunch, Bite Mi serves Vietnamese street food offerings with a balance between savoury and sweet flavours and grilled, fried, steamed or pickled options which provide a crunch, smokiness or succulence to fresh, familiar, craveable food.