During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, chef Benjamin Murray — who like many others in the restaurant industry was furloughed — decided to pursue a passion project of his, Benh Mi, an underground Vietnamese pop-up created out of his Downtown Miami apartment. Soon after his launch, Benh Mi began selling out days in advance through Instagram and became one of the Miami’s favorite dine-at-home meal kits. That success has parlayed into a permanent location for the restaurant, which debuted last week on Española Way at 1436 Washington Avenue.
For the new brick-and-mortar venture, Murray teamed up with Michael Kaplan, his friend from culinary school and now NYC-based chef and restaurant owner. The star of the concise menu is the classic Vietnamese sandwich, the bánh mi, which is served in various protein styles from lemongrass meatball to herb and roasted pork, char siu mushroom, and more. The Vietnamese-inspired menu has also expanded for this new outpost to include dishes like the extra crunchy spicy chicken tenders with yuzu kosho ranch, roasted banana ketchup, or tamarind barbecue sauces; vegetable spring rolls; beef salad with skirt steak; and green papaya salad with mangos.
The restaurant also has an extensive Vietnamese coffee and tea program that includes espresso-based drinks, drip coffee made from Vietnamese coffee beans, Vietnamese phin style coffee, along with specialty coffee creations like a purple ube latte using Japanese sweet potato. For those who want something a bit stronger, a variety of beers and sake can be found on the menu as well.
Benh Mi was designed by Cindy Kam and inspired by Miami Beach art deco and Asian design elements and features indoor and outdoor seating with a standing bar. The restaurant will also connect directly to the lobby of Esmé Miami Beach, a new hotel set to open later this year.
Benh Mi is now open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.