New York: Top 10 Bánh Mì
For those with their heads still stuck in a panini press, this Vietnamese sandwich is the best thing that ever happened to toasted mini baguettes, pork pâté and mayonnaise, pork cold cuts, barbequed pork, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, chiles, and cilantro. Known as the No. 1. Also, bun me. Proving French colonialism wasn’t all bad.
● Ba Xuyên (Sunset Park) – Preme hawker of the greatest sandwich ever, sorry Cubano. Crunchiest buns, tartiest daikon, don’t-ask pâtés. Drop-ceiling realism in the less douchehead, more snakehead BK. Stinky fruit milkshakes + potted plants for the ladyfolks. $3.75 a hit. ● Bánh Mì Saigon Bakery (Little Italy) – Bling’s got nothing on salty, briny, flaky, bbq hoagie goodness. Behind this jewelry store’s nondescript display cases hides a hopping toaster oven. Atmosphere of grungy international intrigue makes up for smattering of pre-made sammies. Just leave the quiet American at home.
● Baoguette (Gramercy Park) – Michael Bao Huynh and missus — of Manhattan Vietnamese Bao empire — dish out glorious, bombing bánh mì, putting former Blimpie’s space to shame. Catfish variation makes your Filet-O-Fish look inbred. Sammich addicts beware. ● Num Pang (Greenwich Village) – Technically a num pang, not a bánh mì. But swipe a page from Tricky Dick: international border, I had no idea! Cambodian carb missiles of toasted demi baguettes, chile mayo, pickled carrots, cukes, and cilantro. Gaping headcheese hole filled with trade-up peppercorn catfish, veal meatballs. ● An Choi (Lower East Side) – LES entrant into Great Bánh Mì Scare of Ought Nine. Crusty petite torpedoes layered with roasted pig, lemongrass pork, chicken and caramelized onion. Price tags running nearly double nearby Chinatown OGs, but intentionally exposed bulbs for your latest hipster romance. ● Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches (East Village) – First-wave bánh mì gentrification. An Dong daughter brought porky subs over from Sunset Park way back in ’04. Pickled daikon-ites beware: Not nearly as over-accessorized as other No. 1’s. But portobello mushroom option warms mad vegetarian hearts. ● Silent H (Williamsburg) – Eponymous chef/owner Vin(h) Nguyen raids mom’s recipes for the stylishly unstyled masses. No love for the pho, and bánh mì banished to “street shop” lunch counter. But big blonde Polish bread straight outta Greenpoint. Swap cold-cuts for kielbasa and have a go at pronouncing Agnieszka. ● Pegu Club (Soho) – Homage to late 19th century British officers’ club in Burma is close enough to Indochina for us. So is the bon-bon fried oyster bánh mì with all the fixings. Plus faster prep than your ten-minute OCD cocktail, topped with a fresh-cut purple orchid. Colonialism rocks. ● Nha Toi (Williamsburg) – Fusion bánh mì finds natural home among freaks and geeks of Billysburg. Though traditional No. 1 no match for Daddy, like its peers, it excels at careful eccentricity. Bulgogi beef riff, or pho bánh mì — the Vietnamese version of fried chicken and waffles. Bakes late. Gird your stomach ‘til 9pm. ● Terroir (East Village) – Between bánh mì and panini: two continents, one toaster oven, and a sandwich press. Yet somehow this table-less wine bar makes it work. Bánh Mì Italiano keeps pork terrine, pickled veggies, adds smacking of mortadella. Almost as good as your other half-Italian, half-Vietnamese fantasy.
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