Every six months, my mom, sister, and I set out to Queens, NY, for our dentist, which, unfortunately, is not that exciting. However, visiting the dentist has its perks: since we usually schedule our appointments at 9 or 10 in the morning, we would finish conveniently around lunch time. Knowing Elmhurst is full of bakeries, restaurants, and cart options, we typically explore the area every time we go in search of good eats that’ll undo all the cleaning our dentist did for our teeth.
Recently, I decided to use my handy-dandy Yelp app to see what people have recommended around the area. One of the first places that came up around the area was Joju, a Vietnamese restaurant known for their banh mi, a popular Vietnamese sandwich, and bubble tea. For someone who’s never tried banh mi before, I was already intrigued.
After more intricate searching (because choosing a place to eat is like choosing a life partner), I was impressed by its whopping 4.4 stars out of 5 and by its reviews that called Joju a “hidden gem in Queens” filled with “unique Banh Mis that you cannot find anywhere else.” After seeing some amazing photos of their banh mi fries, my empty stomach was sold, and I decided that Joju was the place.We were starving after the dentist, which ended at around 1:30, so we more or less power-walked 7 minutes down Broadway until I saw the green awning that read “Joju”. Eagerly, we stepped inside and were greeted by a bright green wall that had a painted banh mi on it.
The place itself is small; my family got pretty lucky with getting a table, but if you come during lunch hours, be prepared to wait on line or find all the tables filled. Besides that, blackboards line the walls and are decorated with food puns and ordering tips, emitting a super modern and photogenic feel. Overall, it’s a casual eatery with dine-in and take-out options for a quick lunch run with quality food. It's conveniently accessible too, with the M and R trains on Elmhurst Avenue.
We probably ended up waiting 15 to 20 minutes for our food, and the cashiers themselves were very patient when it came to ordering.Don’t know what to order? Joju’s got you covered. A blackboard next to the cashier has all of their most popular dishes written on it to help you choose from their options. As for me, I always love getting what restaurants are known for, so I ordered their lemongrass chicken banh mi, banh mi fries, and Thai iced tea.
The sandwich was filled with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, mayonnaise, cilantro, and chicken, all served inside a perfectly toasted baguette. Each bite was both savory and fresh -- the cilantro and cucumbers offered a crisp contrast to the soft meat and pickled veggies.
The fries are topped with special house sauce (SO GOOD), mild spicy mayo, spicy green sauce, pickled daikon and carrots, and chopped cilantro and jalapeños.
Finally, to wash everything down was their classic, sweet, Thai iced tea. Photogenic, delicious, and simple. What more could you ask for in food?Keep in mind that there are tons of other options for the sandwiches, including different meats like Vietnamese ham, pork belly, and bulgogi, which make it completely necessary to come back and try everything else. They also offer kimchi fries and a large array of bubble teas.
All in all, my first time trying banh mi was pretty life-changing, and I’d like to thank my dentist for the opportunity to explore Queens’ food options. If you’re ever around Elmhurst and want to try some cool Vietnamese food, Joju is the place to be!