Belly Deli on South U
Banh mi from the No Thai! empire
by Shelley Daily
With the No Thai! empire going strong--three locations at last count--Eric Joh, a friend of the founders, kicked around an idea: How about a restaurant inspired by the banh mi sandwich craze? And that's how Belly Deli, which offers gourmet Asian sandwiches and salads, was born. "I'd been watching cooking shows and following trends and had seen from visiting L.A. and New York City that this was big," says Joh, twenty-six, who is part owner and operational manager of the restaurant, which opened in April on South University.
The small storefront, where the original No Thai! got its start (it moved to the first floor of the Landmark student high-rise last year), holds up to twenty customers, half of whom stand at a stainless-steel counter--giving the space a big-city vibe. He says the Bokum Balls (kimchee pork fried rice balls) are popular, as is the Belly Sammy pork loin sandwich and the Cheese Steak Sammy. He gets brisk business from students and lots of carryout orders. And, he says, word is getting out. "The other day, two guys from TCF [Bank] came by--and the next day they came back with their friends."
Belly Deli, 1317 South University, 669-8888. Mon.-Sun. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. a2bellydeli.com
[Originally published in June, 2013.]