A passion for Vietnamese food and an adventurous spirit is the recipe for what a pair of new Mountlake Terrace residents hope will soon become a successful addition to the city’s restaurant scene.
Bao Dinh and Thao Ly plan to open Banh Mi Bites, a Vietnamese sandwich shop, in commercial space along 236th St. S.W. in Arbor Village this August.
For the two of them, opening a new eatery will be a big change from their current occupations – Dinh works in finance while Ly is an accountant.
“This is our first restaurant,” Dinh explained, “and Thao will be running it.”
“Thao realized that her passion was not accounting, but in food,” Dinh continued. “Her dream is to own a restaurant and seeing people smile and enjoying her food. Thao is very passionate about food and that creativity is reflected in our menu.”
Although the 724-square-foot ground floor unit in Arbor Village is little more than an empty shell now, Dinh and Ly have hired a contractor to prepare the space for food preparation and service. In addition, the two already have a website complete with a menu of what diners can expect to find at Banh Mi Bites once the eatery opens.
Banh Mi, Vietnamese for “bread,” provides a hint of what the restaurant will be serving. “Banh Mi is sliced and glazed with our special sauce and toasted to perfection, served with your choice of toppings and our signature papaya salad,” Dinh said.
The sandwich choices will range from chicken meatballs to beef pepperoni to vegetarian ham and more.
While the sandwiches make up a large portion of the menu, Dinh believes a big draw will be the Banh Mi Bites – “hence the name of our restaurant,” he points out.
Banh Mi Bites is an open-face sliced sandwich served with shredded pork, green onion, and a choice of either pepperoni, bacon or hot dog. “This is very popular street food in Vietnam and I am confident that you will not find it in the Puget Sound area, or (even) in most states,” Dinh said.
The eatery will also feature a large selection of drinks, including Vietnamese coffee, milk tea and smoothies – and something called coffee milk tea. “Yes, it is a mixture of coffee and tea,” Dinh said. “It might sound odd at first, but trust me, it tastes amazing.”
Banh Mi Bites is truly a labor of love for Dinh and Ly. The recipes they will be using at the restaurant don’t come from family but from their own experiences.
“We’ve tried a lot of different things and we know what we like,” Dinh shared. “That’s what we’re going to try here.”
“We love Banh Mi and you can see that love reflected in our logo with a heart-shaped Banh Mi,” he added.
The couple is not only new to the restaurant business, but also to married life, which often brings a very specific question their way that they don’t waver in answering.
“Because we are newlyweds, people often ask us ‘when are you having a baby?’ Right now, the restaurant is our baby,” Dinh said. “We have been putting all our effort and savings into making this restaurant a reality for about a year. We want to have a fun environment while providing quality products and services to our customers. We are local people and hope the local community will come out and support us.”
For more information about Banh Mi Bites, see their website at www.banhmibites.com.
–Story and photos by Doug Petrowski