This place has opened on Telegraph at 66th, right by the Oakland/Berkeley border, serving banh mi, fresh spring rolls, rice and vermicelli bowls, and drinks. A youngish guy mans the counter, and his mother does the cooking.
Prices are reflective of the area, I guess. At any rate, there isn't much else in the immediate vicinity that's quick service and not chains, just the Smokehouse, and salads and sandwiches at Mokka (with more limited hours).
Banh mi are $5.95 for dac biet, $4.95 for non-combo choices of head cheese, ham, grilled pork, grilled beef, grilled chicken, vegetarian (sautéed
marinated tofu, I believe). Bowls with a variety of toppings are $7.95-$8.95. I don't recall the prices on spring rolls, but they are available with a similar variety of grilled meats, shrimp, or tofu. Hot or cold Vietnamese coffee and Thai iced tea are pricey at $3.95. There are also fresh coconut juice, lemonade, and aloe vera juice with basil seeds, and a cooler with canned drinks. When I went to verify the address, I saw photos on Yelp showing the display case filled with assorted macarons, source unknown, but it was empty when I was there.
There are a couple of tiny folding tables in the shop, and a couple more out front, but this is really a to-go operation.
I got a grilled chicken banh mi, hold the mayo. The chicken was dark meat with a light. slightly sweet marinade and seasoned with pepper, and came dressed with one long strip of cucumber and two long strips of green bell pepper, along with the pickled carrots and daikon and cilantro. No jalapeño (i'd neglected to ask, and added some pickled slices from my fridge at home. I talked to a friend who'd also stopped in recently, who said it wasn't the case with his grilled pork banh mi, which "had some kick") The roll was standard torpedo length, with crackly crust and soft interior, which hadn't been hollowed. Next time, I'll ask for jalapeños!
Mai Banh Mi
6601 Telegraph Ave. (at 66th, a block south of Alcatraz)
Oakland, CA 94609
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