Boston long owned a reputation for being hostile to food trucks: getting licensed to offer meals on wheels meant braving a daunting tangle of municipal red tape. Mayor Tom Menino recently pledged to be more welcoming to mobile restaurateurs, and he appears to be keeping that promise: a dozen purveyors will soon operate along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and a cluster of three trucks is now in business on City Hall Plaza. Bon Me Truck belongs to the latter, and its short menu of Vietnamese food is very promising, if not always quite the bargain we associate with such street food.
Consider its namesake bánh mì ($6), a sub that fuses Vietnamese staples (grilled meats, raw and lightly pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and chilies) with French influences (baguette, charcuterie, mayonnaise). Bon Me spins a beauty, a salad of sliced red onion and cucumber, lightly pickled shredded daikon and carrots, and fresh cilantro on a good, crisp-crusted baguette, with optional spicy mayo, fresh jalapeños, and a schmear of house-made liver pâté. This is topped with a choice of three excellent protein options: "BBQ" (sweetly marinated and grilled) pork, grilled chicken breast chunks (moist, with a good grill flavor), or sliced shiitake mushrooms with cubes of firm tofu. Noodle salad ($6), a/k/a Vietnamese bún, is a big bowl of rice vermicelli with Napa cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot, daikon, red onion, and a choice of dressings; fish-sauce-laced "Vietnamese vinaigrette" is closest to traditional, though miso-lime and toasted-sesame dressings work nicely, too. The rice bowl ($6) tops a heap of brown or white medium-grain rice with carrot, daikon, Napa, bean sprouts, cilantro, and scallions, finished with a light drizzle of soy sauce. The noodles and rice bowls include the sandwich's same protein options.
Daily-varying sides include steamed edamame ($2) with a sneaky-spicy dusting of cayenne and salt. Drink options include so-so (bulk-brewed) Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk ($2), much-tastier fresh limeade spiked with Thai basil ($2), and excellent iced ginger/lemon tisane ($2) with chunks of ginger. Desserts include a fine chewy blondie ($1). Service can be slow during the noon-hour crush, which may leave some wondering if their time might be better spent walking to Chinatown, where a similar-quality bánh mì costs only $3. (By this yardstick, the rice and noodle bowls seem a better value.) But given its quality, fresh flavors, and convenience — and my sense that many workers and tourists are leery of Chinatown — Bon Me Truck kicks many nearby lunch options to the curb. If this is a bellwether of Boston's food-truck revolution, laissez les bons temps rouler.
Bon Me Truck, located at City Hall Plaza, Boston, is open Monday–Friday, 11 am–3 pm, from April to October. Call 617.410.6288 or visit bonmetruck.com.