Asian Specialties and Deli Fare Align at Sunny Deli

A nearly hidden downtown lunch spot serves up everything from egg salad to bibimbap.

Photograph by Dustin Sparks

When a restaurant serves a nice Reuben sandwich and a massive bowl of bibimbap, you may start thinking, Well, it’s just another fusion place with an uppity chef mixing up cultures in a wok. But that’s not the case at all at Sunny Deli. There’s deli fare. And then there’s Asian fare. And the two barely touch. So if you want a filling egg, sausage, bacon, and cheese breakfast sandwich, a crisp chef salad, or even a good ol’ ham sammich, that’s exactly what you get. No chef meddling in food styles whatsoever. But if you want to order off the separate Asian menu, you can get chicken curry with vegetables on rice, yakisoba noodles, or even potstickers.

Now I said earlier that they “barely touch” because there’s a bit of creep on the deli side with the Sunny Bulgogi Wrap. The bulgogi (marinated rib eye to you and me), which makes the bibimbap (a rice bowl, salad-y thingie with fiery gochujang pepper paste) such a big hit here, has found its way into a wrap, along with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and honey Dijon. It’s kind of roast beef beyond belief. I should point out that Sunny Kim, who founded Sunny Deli and tucked it away on the first floor of the Carew Tower, isn’t there anymore. She and her husband retired to Chicago two years ago, but the place is in great hands. They passed the deli to Boda Yoon, also from Korea. Now the best thing about Boda is that he knows not to mess with success. So he’s pretty much left the proven recipes alone, with a few of his own touches added to keep Sunny Deli that quirky place you can get both a PB&J and teriyaki chicken.

Sunny Deli, 441 Vine St., downtown, (513) 651-5090

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