Weekday Afternoon Food Coma: Red Medicine’s Bánh Mì

Pork Belly Bánh Mì ($12)

As someone who has held a tenure at the same company and building for over 5 years, I’ve seen lunch places come and go from my little perch on Wilshire Blvd. I like to joke that we are in the real “Slums of Beverly Hills” since we, in the stretch closest to the L.A. line, hold a 323 area code instead of the usual 310 everyone west of us is assigned. The most varied of lunch options is a short drive to Miracle Mile because of the food trucks. And yes, I do, thanks to my frustration with the lack of options as well as my resistence to Trimana – the chain deli across the street which unabashedly microwaves their eggs in plain sight of their customers.

Singapore Sling ($10)

I’ve been in that space at the intersection of Gale plenty of times before, with Red Medicine being the 3rd changeover entity I’ve witnessed. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s dark, dingy bar called The Continental was the scene of learning exactly which co-workers I never wanted to go drinking with, ever again. Hokusai, a Japanese spot, offered $7 cash-only, combination bento boxes – the best lunch deal in the vicinity.

Now, Red Medicine is my next-block, one-stop-shop for the best bánh mì Beverly Hills (and the vicinity) ever did see. Their bar beckons me; liquid lunches are as enticing and accessible as ever, thanks to Matt and his house-made juices and sodas. I enjoy his Pimm’s Cup (only in L.A. during January is this acceptable, y’see) and his Singapore Sling. The others, I can’t wait to try. Yes, this is Beverly Hills but the cocktails at Red Medicine are also only $10. Fernet lovers (or nay-sayers, depending on whom you ask): They carry Malört, probably one of the only places this west of Chicago to do so.

The bar at Red Medicine

But back to solid lunch. The main selections are the Bún Chả ($12-$15) and Bánh Mì, both of which I have had – with pork belly – and have been extremely happy with. Let’s not fool ourselves: We’re not in Westminster nor Vietnam, and there’s nowhere in Beverly Hills you’ll get away with eating for less than $10. But if you want those flavors with an avant garde flourish, Red Medicine is your best bet. After all, the sandwich is a full foot long. The quality of the Bánh Mì is also held up in no small part by the Bouchon bread, which I’ve noticed has been tinkered with and increasingly toasted (over 3 sandwiches during 3 different occasions). The cilantro is super fresh as is the deliciously pickled, crunchy carrot. Sliced jalapenos give the sandwich a good kick while the modest helping of mayo adds just a hint of sweetness. If you need some more spice, look no further than the house-made sriracha sauce, plated on the side - a delicious and fresh rendition of the famous Rooster Sauce.

Feel like noodles, or looking for a lighter lunch? The Bún Chả delivers a fresh helping of noodles as well as the same, delicious and also noodle-like carrots. There are more pickled vegetables than in the Bánh Mì to match the light, sweet, vinegar-based and refreshing dressing. It’s a fancy patch of noodles that you can order with wagyu, pork or chicken but there’s no short-changing the flavor.

Controversies aside, I’m glad Red Medicine moved in. Things looked auspicious when I dined their Test Kitchen run at the debut of TK, itself, and I’m happy to see that once all the kinks (kitchen and PR, alike) are ironed out, it looks like Red Medicine may be the restaurant to break the curse of Gale and Wilshire. Bring on lunch!

Lunch: 11 AM – 2 PM

Dinner and Lounge: 6 PM – 2 AM

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
323.651.5500

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