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Vietnamese Food, Right off the Truck (Boston Blog)

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Vietnamese Bon Me Truck in Boston

The Bon Me TruckI’ve always had a thing for food trucks and street vendors. Living in New York, I never tired of that three-dollar street-corner falafel loaded up with fixings and different at each cart. In my experience, ethnic street food never disappoints, and the best part is the generous use of condiments.

Boston is a different story. The food truck movement is in its infancy, thanks to an initiative of Mayor Thomas Menino, which began with The Food Truck Challenge. Customers voted three vendors into food truck stardom, guaranteeing them prime real estate in downtown Boston, among them the Vietnamese Bon Me Truck (named after the traditional banh mi sandwich, one of the truck’s signature items). Since I have a love of both fresh, healthy Asian food and street food vendors in general, I decided to give Bon Me a try. The menu is simple, straightforward Vietnamese cuisine: pick a sandwich, noodle bowl, or rice bowl, then your choice of filling. I picked the tofu and shitake mushroom sandwich (like many Vietnamese sandwiches, served on a baguette, probably thanks in part to French influence in Vietnam). Green tea, ginger lemonade, thai-basil lemonade, or Vietnamese iced coffee are the refreshing drink options.

According to its website, “Bon Me is a gourmet food truck serving Vietnamese inspired food with local sourcing. Bon Me started as a dream that came to fruition by winning a competition hosted by the City of Boston. We are excited to offer food that is fresh and laden with bright flavors and contrasting textures.”

Bon Me Rice BowlI certainly found the food bursting with bright, vibrant, and fresh accents – citrusy flavors like cilantro, sharp pickled vegetables, tangy homemade mayo and pate, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu marinated to perfection. The offerings stayed true to the Vietnamese culinary tradition of showcasing fresh herbs, and fresh, simple – yet flavor-packed and healthy – ingredients. Indeed, The Boston Globe has also praised Bon Me’s “crisp, healthy menu.”

Bon Me sources locally when possible, striving to make farmers, chefs, and consumers a near-exclusive triad, and using ingredients as they come into season. Organic tofu is also featured on their menu.

The business was started by three ambitious friends, among them a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who holds down two other jobs.

The low overhead costs of food trucks help keep the fare affordable – main dishes here are $6, drinks and sides $2.50. In an effort to help launch a successful food truck movement, despite Boston’s complex system of rules and regulations for vendors, Mayor Menino awarded winners of the Food Truck Challenge six months of free rent, technical advice from the city, permitting guidance, and assistance applying for low-interest loans. The six-month pilot program ends October 28, and will allow the city council some time to work on fine-tuning the process to draw new vendors.

It’s high time Boston cultivated a thriving street food culture, and there is no better way to ring in its arrival than with a visit to the Bon Me truck.

Boston Locations: Southeast Corner of City Hall Plaza across from Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Government Center T stop), M-F 11:30 am-3 pm; Sowa Open Market, 460 Harrison St., M-F 10 am-4 pm.

For more information, call 617-942-1656 or visit

– Genevieve Slocum is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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