You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Belly Deli restaurant opens on South University Avenue in Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


Belly Deli opened at 1317 S. University Ave. in original No Thai! restaurant space.

Photo by Mike Han

The owners of Ann Arbor’s No Thai! restaurants are trying their hand at a new concept: a banh mi-focused Asian deli.

Belly Deli opened on Monday at 1317 S. University Ave. in the original 700-square-foot No Thai! space. No Thai! relocated last year to the first-floor of Landmark student high-rise.

“(Belly Deli) is kind of a fusion of Vietnamese and Korean cooking, and maybe a little Chinese,” said Belly Deli co-owner and operational manager Eric Joh.

“I really like (banh mi sandwiches) a lot because they’re not as heavy as other sandwiches,” he continued. “We kind of wanted to take that idea and put our own little twist on it.”


A banh mi sandwich from Belly Deli in Ann Arbor.

Photo by Mike Han

Already prevalent in New York, banh mi sandwiches started gaining popularity in the Ann Arbor area last year. The Lunch Room, San Street, Bona Sera and Sava’s Restaurant have served versions of the Vietnamese sandwich, which is prepared on a baguette and filled with pickled vegetables, meats or tofu, and fresh herbs.

But Belly Deli’s offerings don’t end there: the restaurant also serves salads and appetizers, like its kimchee pork fried rice balls.

“We realized that there are not a lot of places that sell salads on South University,” Joh said. The first few days of business, Joh said the Szechwan stir-fry salad was popular among customers.


A wall in Belly Deli was decorated by a graffiti artist.

Photo by Mike Han

“We try to perfect the few (menu) options that we do have,” he said.

After No Thai! vacated the space, Joh said it was renovated to give it an “urban and different” feel. A stainless steel countertop wraps around the restaurant and graffiti artist Mike Han painted a mural on one of the walls.

A sandwich at Belly Deli costs $7 or $8, and salads cost between $7 and $9. There are 10 seats and a standup counter. Joh said he’s also still looking to hire a few employees. (Visit the website to apply)

Belly Deli is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

  • Related coverage:’s Jessica Webster wrote about Ann Arbor’s ‘banh mi revolution’ last summer. Read her report to learn more about the sandwich and its growing popularity.


Belly Deli's menu posted inside the restaurant space.

Photo by Mike Han

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Ji Wu

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

I wonder if they source their ingredient locally.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

I do not see any vegetarian sandwiches.....You won't get any money from me. Come on Belly Deli...really? No vegetarian options???


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

I've had both the Option #1 Belly Sammy with Tofu as a veggie option and the Bokum balls...both quite tasty. The tofu is lightly fried in texture.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Mmmmm, sandwiches with a fresh, light flavor that won't weigh you down. I'm there!


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

Unfortunate name. Belly Deli makes me think of "Delhi belly" aka traveler's diarrhea.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

@LAEL: Perhaps it's a warning.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

It makes me think of a big, hairy, Homer Simpson belly *shudder*


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Sounds really good!


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

Looks good. I'm down with the concept. I missed getting bahn mi like the ones I could get in China town out in good. Hope these stack up!

Linda Peck

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

The name could be changed and it would be better for me. I wish the Belly Deli great success!


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Yep, the name is a big turn off.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Bokum balls and sea fu balls of fried rice were quite tasty...great snack on the go! Good luck to the owners with this new concept!

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

$7 or $8? Banh mi in cities with asian districts sell for $1.50-$2. The rice based bread rolls are baked fresh every morning. They are fantastic. To someone in a2, that price probably seems impossible.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

Nic, that's what they should be selling for. The ingredients are low cost. Way too jacked up.

Linh Song

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

The prices for banh mi in Houston, throughout CA, Seattle, Chicago and other cities with Vietnamese folks accounts for demand and low labor costs. The closest Vietnamese communities from Ann Arbor are in Warren and GR and even there it's near impossible to find banh mi made with bot gao, or rice flour. True banh mi, which literally means bread but is shortened here in the U.S. to mean sandwiches, is tough to make commercially. And even when you can find banh mi made by MI area Vietnamese shops consider the cost of driving and time when finding better deals. Belli Deli's a nice fit for our Vietnamese-Korean family, saves us a drive and time for me to roast meat or pickle veggies when making my own banh mi.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Not at all, but with the rents on South U we aren't going to see it there.

Hugh Giariola

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

In addition to the area restaurants listed already serving bahn mi sandwiches, let's not forget the Pho House on the corner of Washtenaw & Hewitt in Ypsi.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

This is a restaurant replacing another restaurant.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

Ann Arbor marches on to become the restaurant capital of Michigan. Or, as a retail shop owner named it, "Republican Restaurantville."