Banh Mi and Ti Restaurant Review
I get ridiculously excited when I hear a new ethnic eatery is opening in Pittsburgh. And even though I’m “still” waiting for a pupuseria to open up (pupusas being those delectable savory street food treats from El Salvador), I’ll take anything that bridges Pittsburgh’s connection with more of the world on a culinary level. And that’s where Banh Mi & Ti comes in.
In case you’re not familiar, banh mi is Vietnam’s ode to a sandwich. Served on a baguette (a lasting legacy from its days as a French colony), it can include any number of meat fillings along with cucumbers, cilantro, pickled carrots, chilis, mayonnaise and cheese (a further mixing of combined French and Vietnamese tastes). Although Pittsburgh has seen the opening of more Vietnamese eateries, it’s nowhere near to the level of Chinese, Japanese, or Thai establishments, and even those that offer banh mi usually have just one or two types.
Banh Mi & Ti is the brainchild of Vietnamese sisters Kellie and Tuyen Truong. They had always dreamt of owning a business together and now here they are, the proprietors of a restaurant in Lawrenceville, one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods and best spots for a meal.
The inside of Banh Mi is bright and its re-done look is fantastic. There isn’t a ton of seating but it’s also the perfect place to come for take-out. We went for an early dinner one Saturday back in late November (around 5PM) and had no problem getting a table.
As for the banh mi themselves, there are seven options to choose from ranging from pork roll (the Viet Special) to Xa Xiu (roasted pork) to even a vegetarian option, the Feeling Tofu (fried tofu with lemongrass and the house special sauce). With the exception of the Banh Mi Bo Kho (bowl of beef stew), all the sandwiches are $7.25 (the bowl is $8.25).
I opted for the Classy Chick (chopped chicken with lemongrass and garlic), while D went for the Drunken Beef (ground beef infused with white wine and sweet onion). This was one of the best things I ate in 2016. That’s not hyperbole. The filling itself was extremely tasty, but the bread, mon dieu. It was so soft!
We split a side of the Summer Rolls ($4.50). These are made with fresh rice paper but not fried (i.e. they’re scores better for you).
And in case you’re on a low carb diet, there’s also the option of rice bowls, meaning you can get any of the banh mi fillings on top of a bowl of jasmine rice as opposed to in a baguette.
Then there’s the matter of drinks. You can try traditional Viet Coffee (wonderfully enough they serve THE Café du Monde coffee); D got a cup of the Café Phin (traditional Vietnamese coffee served with condensed milk-$4.50) to go. He liked this immensely. And with our meals, we both ordered a bubble tea. Available in two sizes($3.50 or $4.50) or hot ($4.00), you then choose your tea (green, black, or oolong) and finally either a milk ti or a flavor ti. You also have the option of toppings. I selected the lychee while D went with the almond. We both got boba (tapioca pearls) on top.
Not only is Banh Mi & Ti a new independently owned business, but it’s owned by two immigrant women, which is phenomenal. Everything about my meal was terrific and I only wish I lived in the neighborhood to frequent it all the time. A little bit of Vietnam right on the always bustling Butler Street.
4502 Butler Street | Pittsburgh, PA. 15201