Last Tuesday was probably the worst day to dine out for lunch. The rain was coming down sideways, and needless to say, I was soaked by the time I reached my destination. Still, after my first lunch at Fresh Bubble Tea & Sandwich Bar (10611 Kingsway Avenue), I have to say the food was worth the walk, showers and all.
Having opened up about six months ago, the cafeteria-reminiscent Fresh tries to be true to its name, with a menu made up of banh mi sandwiches and fresh fruit bubble tea drinks. Fresh is definitely more health-conscious than the highly-visible McDonald’s across the street, but suffers a bit in terms of prominence. Tucked on the first floor of the non-descript Kingsway Professional Building, it’d be easy to overlook Fresh (especially with all of the current construction!).
As I mentioned, their menu focuses on wholesome items, but is far from extensive. For this, I applaud them – usually, restaurants try to do too much, instead of concentrating on doing a small number of items well. Fresh only offers four banh mi options (pork, chicken, beef, tofu), and a significantly smaller bubble tea menu when compared with other cafes.
Given the rainstorm, I opted only for a beef banh mi with peanut satay sauce ($6.49). All sandwiches are topped with cheese, house mayo, cucumber, onions, lettuce, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon – not exactly your conventional banh mi, but close enough to be familiar. The fusion may also appeal to diners who are more comfortable with western-style sandwiches, and help bridge them towards the traditional.
Beef banh mi
The sandwich was made fresh, the meat fried up on the flattop upon order. It arrived neatly wrapped in parchment paper. The bread was fresh, crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside, while the filling was substantial. The vegetables had been packed in with a generous hand, ensuring a textured, crunchy layer with every bite, but the star really was the peanut sauce-laced meat. It added a depth I don’t typically associate with banh mi, even if it was much less intense than other satay sauces I’ve encountered.
Based on this experience, I would have no hesitation returning to Fresh, and would hope to add a bubble tea to my order next time!
Fresh Bubble Tea & Sandwich Bar
10611 Kingsway Ave