Review: Sunnywich Cafe succeeds with the basics
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Walking into Sunnywich Cafe, a newly opened sandwich and boba tea shop on Maude Avenue in Sunnyvale, you’re welcomed by a slightly cluttered, homey feeling. The interior decorating is sparse, with charming watercolors of Pokémon and a Maneki Neko, or Japanese waving cat, adorning the top of the pastry case. At first glance, the menu appears to be standard American fare; however, all options are actually reminiscent of Banh-Mi Sandwiches, which are comprised of Vietnamese ingredients on a French baguette. Small, unassuming and unknown, this hole-in-the-wall serves up sandwiches that have more complexity than the menu advertises.
Sunnywich Cafe’s sandwich menu is very limited, with only four options, none of which are vegetarian, but the three that I tried are well executed and only cost around $5. The BBQ pork sandwich is made not with the typical American shredded pork coated with barbeque sauce, but with tender, flavorful Chinese-style cha siu pork. Like the BBQ pork, the roast beef is packed with a traditional Chinese flavor which enhances the beef with warm spices. The teriyaki chicken is coated in a very light and subtle teriyaki sauce that yields a sandwich that isn’t too heavy or indulgent.
All of these sandwiches are adorned with pickled radishes, carrots, raw onions, fresh cilantro and jalapeno slices. The radishes and carrots cut through the rich meats, the onions lend crunch and brightness, the cilantro adds a freshness and the jalapeno adds spice. Because all sandwiches are garnished in the same way, all options taste very similar and are thus equally enjoyable. Overall, the fusion of Vietnamese garnish and Chinese or Japanese style meats makes for a spread of unique and pleasant sandwiches, all of which are worth it for their prices.
In contrast to the sandwich menu, Sunnywich Cafe’s boba tea menu is extensive, encompassing 55 unique flavors, including honeydew and lavender, for around $4 each. Original items such as Thai Milk Tea and Taro Milk Tea are smooth with no chalky aftertaste, are full of stated flavor, and avoid the pitfall of being overly sweet. Much of the sweetness actually comes from the boba, which is honeyed, squishy, chewy and plentiful. When ordering, you can opt for either 50 percent or 100 percent sweetness, but I would recommend 100 percent sweetness for Thai Milk Tea. If you’re looking for something more adventurous and you like artificial fruit flavorings, the Watermelon Milk Tea is guaranteed to be an interesting experience. I found the taste to be very reminiscent of my favorite childhood watermelon bubble gum.
As many add-ins as you want, like lychee jelly and green apple popping boba, can be added to the drink for no additional cost. If it’s complementary to the flavor of the milk tea that you order, I would highly recommend ordering the lychee jelly in addition to regular boba, as it brings another dimension to your drink with the refreshing fruity flavor and the contrasting crunchy and slightly chewy texture that offsets the squishiness of the regular boba. The drinks are made with a milk powder, but can easily be requested to be left out if you’re lactose intolerant. As an added bonus, Sunnywich Cafe rewards their customers with a stamp card on the back of their business card that has a deal of one free drink after purchasing eight. Since there are so many excellent boba tea options, this offer is definitely worth it.
Sunnywich Cafe may not be the biggest and is far from the fanciest cafe around, but its charm and warmth are traits that will keep pulling you back to this tiny family-run establishment. Not only are there cheap prices and quick service, but also high quality Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches and a plethora of boba tea options that do not disappoint.