Vanessa Rivera and Gian Carlo Accinelli had a choice: Get married or open a restaurant. Well, they made their decision. The chapel-and-dress affair was put on hold so they could open their sandwich spot, Mr. & Mrs. Bun.
The initial plan was to bring a more modern spin on Peruvian cuisine to Kendale Lakes. But a two-month research trip to Lima led to something better: sandwiches.
The idea had been gaining steam well before Rivera, 33 and a former waitress, and Accinelli, 35 and last a cook at the Coral Gables Hillstone, stumbled upon them earlier this year.
The traditional offerings include a San Antonio ($8.99), built on thin slices of fat links of the Spanish-style pork sausage butifarra. At Mr. & Mrs. Bun, it’s stacked high on homemade buns that Accinelli pumps out throughout the day along with thin curves of red onion.
Before opening, he experimented with an array of doughs. Then he settled on the rolls that now cradle most of the sandwiches. Foccacia, baguette, and ciabatta were all tested but never felt right. So on a whim, he pulled all three together.
“It’s like a mixture of cultures, that’s why we call it cholo,” Rivera says. Their bubbly crusts offer a slight crunch. The spongy interior is a good medium for soaking up the juices that ooze out of a half-dozen fillings. This isn’t the nutty, toothsome whole-grain-style bread you might buy from Zak the Baker, but neither are the strange, beloved Martin’s potato buns, which seem destined to remain fluffy for all time.
Gian Carlo whipping up some pan cholo.
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
For the pollo chi jau kay ($9.99), a pair of fried chicken thighs are tucked inside and dressed with a salty-sweet combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese five-spice powder to add a chifa, or Chinese-Peruvian, option to the menu. A smattering of spicy encurtido helps round out each bite.
Another classic, offered here on thick slices of white bread, is the triple, with a fried egg, tomato, and avocado ($8.99), and the perfunctory pork belly ($9.99), layered with slices of sweet potato.
Equally guilt-inducing are the ají de gallina bites ($5.99). The golf-ball-size spheres are Peru’s spin on arancini. Each two-biter is packed with shredded chicken enveloped in that country’s favorite spicy, creamy chili sauce.
Ají de gallina bites.
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
They’re worth the ride out to West Kendall. And considering the growing population out here and the few quality food options, Mr. & Mrs. Bun is a welcome addition in the land once dominated by Islas Canarias outposts. Just ask that restaurant’s progeny, Eileen Andrade, who opened Finka Table & Tap with her brother in mid-2014 way west on Bird Road. The 200-plus seater is packed throughout the week.
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The burbs may not share Wynwood’s panache or downtown’s urbanity, but they’re replete with inexpensive housing and hordes of customers eager to avoid a bumper-to-bumper drive east.
Mr. & Mrs. Bun — located at 15572 Sunset Dr., Miami — is open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call 786-717-6244.