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Mar 26, 2007 08:14 PM

Columbus, OH - Mimi's (Vietnamese)

Those of you who have been going out of your way to hit up the Vietnamese counter in North Market need to turn around and head to Mimi's. Somebody on here mentioned that they had good banh mi, so I decided to check it out. I skipped on the banh mi and went for the pho (beef) and got an order of banh cuon to go.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Vietnamese chow, banh mi are sandwiches that have pate and head cheese and cilantro and other stuff on a baguette (more or less), pho is noodle soup (much more, actually), and banh cuon are rice flour dumplings with nuts and Vietnamese sausage, doused in diluted fish sauce.

Anyway, this place was so authentically Vietnamese it was silly. As I sat listening to cheesy Vietnamese pop music videos and contemplating the bubble tea selection, I thought to myself, the only way this place could be more legit is if it had a pool table. Well, apparently I had walked right past it on my way in.

This food was proper. The pho at North Market comes with some sliced sirloin, bean sprouts and some raggedy looking basil. Mimi's gives you meat balls, tripe, and a variety of beef cuts (I'm sure you can substitute). The broth was slightly thin and lacked anise, but still very good, and the toppings were even more than I usually get at Eden Center in Northern Virginia. And if you're at all intimidated about what to do with the food, the proprietor was really friendly and helpful, and he'll show you how to eat it like an old pro. So much better than the folks at North Market, who clearly need a little competition to sharpen them up (seriously, cafe sue da pre-made???).

The banh cuon were just as good. The nuoc cham (fish sauce) could have been a little fishier, but that's just me. I brought the banh cuon home, and my mom, who has a long list of things she doesn't like, was digging it. It was seriously good chow, so don't sleep on it. The guy needs business, and it would be a real shame if he had to close up shop.

Location: Just north of 161 on Cleveland, head east into the big ugly strip mall with the humongous thrift store. Mimi's is a couple doors in on the north side.

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  1. That place sounds great! I will have to try it. We went to a place on Hamilton Road last weekend called Indochine that also had great Vietnamese food. It is in the Whitehall area on S. Hamilton Rd. near Dick Mascheter Ford and had great bahn mi, pho, spring rolls, and sauteed meats. The menu was small, but everything we tried was great. It's good to know that we are getting some good Vietnamese places in Columbus. Thanks for the recommendation!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lauren in OH

      I went to Indochine once and was very disappointed. There is a place on Morse that didn't impress me. Saigon Palace downtown is underwhelming. So far Lac Viet is the best I have had here. I haven't been to Mimi's.

      Little Saigon in Dayton blows away anything I have had in Columbus. If I need a real Vietnamese fix, that is the place I go.

      1. re: kura kura

        kura kura, you should definitely check out Mimi's. I got to know Vietnamese food through many visits to Eden Center (quick plug: with Vietnamese people. Mimi's food -- particularly the banh cuon -- would definitely compete with the stuff there. In any case, it far outclasses Lac Viet in every category but location, and the friendliness of the guy running the show more than makes up for that.

    2. Thanks for the tip! I'm always on the hunt for good Vietnamese. Most places don't have the variety of meat cuts offered, and the beef does not come to your table still pink/red on top, like it should. I'll have to check Mimi's out.

      1. It's great to see people discovering this place. I've been going here for lunch about once a week for a few months now, and despite plugs to everyone I know, I was worried the place would close down for a while but his business is definitely increasing. Lately, I've seen folks picking up bags of twenty Banh Mi for lunch. I think the word is out in the Viet community. The owner couldn't be nicer and runs a fastidiously clean establishment. Mi Mi is a classic example of a restaurant picking a handful of dishes, and doing them very well. Other than drinks, there are seriously only four things on the menu. The Pho is great and cheap ($7), with a variety of traditional meats (love that tendon) and lots of very fresh garnishes including the oft overlooked culantro. I'm convinced that his Banh Mi with a Caphe Sua Da is one of the best $6 meals you can get in town.

        By the way, thanks for the Eden Center link Selectman...on my list to check out next time I'm out that way.

        2 Replies
        1. re: red_menace

          If I'm not mistaken, you're the one who mentioned Mimi's on another topic, so big thanks to you. (Off topic: Eden Center is great. Huong Que/Four Sisters is the best all-around place IMO, but you can wander around and try pretty much the whole gamut of Viet chow for very cheap.)

          1. re: DistrictSelectman

            Thank you so much for this suggestion. this is why i LOVE chowhound. I never would have come across this restaurant. husband and i went to mimi's this weekend for lunch. Pho and Banh mi really hit the spot. Delicious, fresh and fast. $11 can't be beat.

        2. I have tried the sandwich at this place. To be honest, the taste of the sandwich was really good, until I had to hit the bathroom. No wonder that shortly after my first visit, the place got flagged by the Health Department. They had to close down to sanitarize their restaurant for some reason. I never visited it again.
          I did try some Pho (noodle beef soup) at this new restaurant on Morse Road called "Huong Viet Restaurant", and it was THE best. I hit this place everyday for lunch. Pho is my number one favorite now.

          1. Twas visiting Columbus for a couple days and got to stop into Mimi's. Being from LA I've had a lot of good Vietnamese food, but I was pleasantly surprised. I read somewhere that they didn't have Bun on their menu, but I guess that changed. I ordered the Bun thit nuong. Pork was flavorful and had just the right amount of fat. Good vermicelli. AND they gave us a generous amount of FRESH herbs, which for me, is the difference between good bun/pho and great bun/pho.

            Just a note for yall: It was a bit difficult to find, and the address that I found on yelp listing it as Columbus-Wooster Rd was incorrect. Honestly, I'm not sure how I actually found the place, and I can't really describe it as I am from out of town. Maybe someone else can supply a correct address?

            1 Reply
            1. re: themorningbenders

              It's now called Mi Li Cafe, and their address/contact info is:

              5858 Columbus Sq
              Columbus, OH 43231-2811
              (614) 899-9202

              They're not too tough to find, in the Columbus Square shopping center at the corner of Cleveland Ave & 161.