Spruce, between 37th and 38th
Chez Yasmine is a tiny little food cart – not a truck – on Penn’s campus. It’s easy to walk by without noticing. But you shouldn’t. You should stop at the cart that has all of the international flags hanging from it. Each flag, I gather, represents a nation that has influenced the food here. There’s Sweden, France, Tunisia, Vietnam . . . it’s a virtual United Nations.
And it’s a great food cart. It’s operated by Jihed Chehimi, a native of Tunisia and former viral immunologist who gave up medical research to present an exciting menu of healthy, delicious and unique lunch items. They’re based on street foods of the nations of all those who’ve ever worked there.
We went for the Wistar, a sandwich of chicken, French brie, sautéed mushrooms, avocado, basil pesto, herbs de Provence, all served on a long, crispy baguette. To be honest, we chose it because the grad student in line ahead of us ordered it in French (Chehimi seems to speak many languages), and we got swept away when she said “herbs de Provence.”
We also enjoyed Le Hipstere – named after the hipsterish kid working the truck. It was actually a version of the Banh Mi, a Vietnamese hoagie of sorts. Chicken, pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, jalapenos, wasabi mayo and soy sauce on a baguette.
All in all, two fun, fresh and original sandwiches. And cheap. The two huge sandwiches, along with an order of peppery lentil soup, a banana and bottle of water came to just $17. That’s one the boss won’t complain about when we put it on this month’s expense report.
It’s a fun little cart, with loyal customers and an operator who’s both got his PhD and can crack a good joke. Really, you should check it out.