Banh Mi Cali Takes Pity on Me

While QT has been around the longest and is the most loved in Chinatown for banh mi breaks, today I wanted to try the newer spot, Banh Mi Cali, on the corner of 9th and Arch. The only problem was that as soon as my food was put together and placed in a plastic to-go bag, I realized I had forgotten my wallet on my bed (last night I made a midnight Amazon purchase based on a stroke of genius Halloween costume idea). Since money in exchange for food is the norm, I was in trouble. But the very nice lady at Banh Mi Cali allowed me to take my food anyway! Thank you for feeding me, nice lady!

Here is what I guiltily consumed this afternoon:

The shrimp banh mi ($5) does not contain actual shrimp bodies, but slices of a sort of shrimp meatball that nice lady says she makes daily by grinding shrimp and spices. It wasn’t like that bouncy, sweet and bland shrimp paste that fills some of what you find at dim sum; it had a lot of flavor and a much more pleasant texture- though if you aren’t into ground seafood, you might want to avoid. It was a a nice sized sandwich, with cucumber, carrots, cilantro and a tangy sauce that soaked in to the flaky bread. Superior to a 5 dolla footlong, of course.

I also tried their housemade Vietnamese yogurt, made with whole and condensed milk ($2). I loved that it was tart like plain greek yogurt, but sweeter.

Cali’s menu features other banh mi, stir fry, and meat over noodles, I was liking the looks of the meatball and sausage banh mi’s.  And since I owe them some cash, I have another reason to come back.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Quick, cheap, tasty
  • Successful homemade yogurt

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I don’t like ground seafood

Banh Mi Cali, 900 Arch  Street, 215-922-1132



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