A trip to the spa used to mean you were getting a sandwich. These days, it means you're heading for a pedicure. Fóumami, a new pan-Asian sandwich spot in the Financial District, hopes you'll have it both ways, and swallow a dose of well-being along with lunch. Fóumami resides not far from Chinatown, where Vietnamese bánh mì joints abound, worthy adversaries offering one of the cheapest, most bountiful ways to eat on the go. It seems Fóumami hopes to deliver more than just sandwiches: the menu rings with lifestyle marketing, promising fuel for business meetings and even the gym. IKEAesque modernism is the décor at Fóumami, which shares a wall with a Fitcorp. Its lunching clientele are clad in clean, pressed suits.
Fóumami's sandwiches are served on shao bing: flaky, chewy flatbread of Chinese tradition. The fillings, however, share a more complex genealogy, as Fóumami dabbles in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean inspiration. Cheerful staff recommended the sliced grilled-ribeye sandwich ($7.95), and with good cause: tender slices of marinated, marbled meat nestles with sautéed onions, contrasted freshly with cilantro and cucumber. Many of Fóumami's meats are prepared slowly, then cooled. Choices include braised pork loin or beef brisket, both $7.95. But chilling dampens flavor, and the cold sliced pork was a bit dry. Chicken Katsu ($7.35) wouldn't be my gym buddy; the sandwich stuffs a bing with tasty panko-crusted white meat, cabbage, tomato, and sweet, pungent brown sauce.
That's meaty matter for a place which named itself by grafting "umami," the savory fifth flavor, to a reference to the vegetarian Buddha. He'd do fine elsewhere on the menu. A soup selection rotates; when I was there, it was Japanese cream stew with corn kernels and carrot chunks suspended in velvety chowder ($5.50). Scallion pancakes share the structural qualities of the bing, toasted crust bubbling up like pizza dough, bundled in a stack for $3. Salads include buckwheat noodle and omelet topped with peanut dressing, carrots, cucumber, scallion, and cilantro ($7.55), or brisket piled over watercress ($7.95). Iced cinnamon "tea" pummels the palate with a tea-free potpourri of cinnamon bark and ginger root, dates bobbing in a heady swirl of brown sugar; it will be just right this winter when served hot. Fóumami's variety is vast, including sesame-and-sugared dessert bing ($1.50), and breakfast: egg-stuffed bing ($3.75), and date-studded, egg-fortified oatmeal ($3). For the downtown lunch crowd, Fóumami will be a welcome addition; you probably can't spend lunch with cucumber slices on your eyes, but at least they'll be on your sandwich.
Fóumami, located at 225 Franklin Street (High & Oliver), in the Financial District, is open Monday–Friday for breakfast from 6:30 am–11:30 am, and for lunch from 11 am–5:30 pm. Call 617.426.8858.