When your motto is “Be good. Do good,” it feels not so good to serve a typical dessert. So the team developing the menu for Bonmi, a bahn mi-inspired sandwich and salad shop that just opened at 900 19th St. NW, found itself in a pickle.
“We wanted a sweet treat that wasn’t a cookie or a brownie,” says Buddy Gillespie. They also wanted something without refined sugars that could be prepared on site without an oven, and be easy to grab and go for on-the-run customers. Oh, and it would be helpful if that something were dairy- and gluten-free.
After some serious experimentation, co-worker Alexis Kukuka came up with the winning combination: Medjool dates, roasted almonds and dried fruits. Chop the ingredients up, form into flattened balls and chill, and you have Bonmi bites ($2). The four varieties — blueberry lemon, chocolate coconut, pumpkin five spice and cranberry sunflower — come in packs of two, making them a cinch to share, or to save half for later. (The bites aren’t big, but the fiber content makes them filling.)
And although you’ve probably never encountered anything like the bites on the streets of Vietnam, they’re an appropriate ending to a meal that’s designed to maximize nutrition, Gillespie says. Sandwich fillings are cooked with a technique that requires less oil, and customers have the option of getting anything in a lettuce wrap to avoid extra carbs. “We’re healthy, but we don’t beat it down your throat,” he says.
When it comes to the sweet bites, however, customers probably wouldn’t mind.