The Lawrenceville shop has been a staple on Butler Street since 2016, when sisters Kellie and Tuyen Truong, who hail from Vietnam, opened the eatery. It’s an intimate, fast-casual spot; the space between their counter and small bar — which, in non-COVID times, would normally be filled with customers — only as wide as a hallway.
The restaurant’s food menu is simple. There are several different combinations of sandwich fillings on the list, most of which can be made into bowls (with the toppings served over rice). A few appetizers, like summer rolls with shrimp or tofu, and Vietnamese cabbage salad round out the offerings.
Then there’s the tea and coffee. This list feels longer than the food menu, featuring all kinds of boba flavors, pearls, and styles of Vietnamese coffee.
I went for two banh mi sandwiches, the Viet special and drunken beef; shrimp summer rolls; and two different styles of boba milk teas, passion fruit green tea with exploding passion fruit pearls and black tea with mango flavor and classic boba.
The baguettes on both sandwiches were ideal. They didn’t crumble and crunch like the typical French baguette, which I often find to be a bit obnoxious. The loaves were a bit soft, giving enough texture to the sandwich without leaving a mountain of crumbs.
The drunken sandwich featured tender beef soaked with white wine and sweet onion. It reminded me, in both texture and flavor, of a dumpling filling. I chose to make this sandwich spicy, which worked out well; peppers would have been too much for the mild, traditional banh mi, but worked well with the gamey, full-flavored beef.
My black milk tea combination far surpassed the passion fruit extravaganza, but I only have myself to blame for that; it was a create-your-own menu.
Personal fumbles aside, Banh Mi & Ti lived up to — and exceeded — all of my expectations. I can’t wait to eat my way through the rest of their menu, no matter how long it takes.
Banh Mi & Ti. 4502 Butler St., Lawrenceville. facebook.com/BanhMiandTi