while i have been enjoying the bahn mi phenomenon, i cannot say i have tried what seem like the dozens of places out there to see what was best. i just remember being excited about 5 years ago or so (maybe even more) when there was one tiny shop that opened up in the grand central station food market. it didn’t last too long, but that was the only place at that time where i could find bahn mi. it wasn’t the best, but at least it existed.
now of course, there are tons of these spots. my favorite in brooklyn (at least near me, i haven’t tried this one out in sunset park) is nicky’s vietnamese, though i tend to order frequently from hanco’s as they deliver to my office. at my friend’s urging, though, i opted to check out num pang in the village. in a super convenient location to lots of movie theaters so this is a very good spot for last minute food before a movie.
and num pang, although not technically a bahn mi shop, serves what they say are cambodian style sandwiches that look remarkably like bahn mi with a twist to me complete with the pickled carrots, mayo and cilantro but no pate. i have no idea if these sandwiches are authentic cambodian or not, but it doesn’t really matter as i thought the quality and taste were excellent. i had the five spiced pork belly served with pickled rhubarb, and j. had the house cured duck breast with home made raspberry and basil jam. the baguettes were crunchy and chewy, while my meat was a little too fatty, the flavors in the duck one were spectacular (and i don’t even like duck). i also tried out the grilled corn which was juicy and not overcooked, and while it doesn’t look so appealing above it really was spicy and delicious.
my main disappointment came at the end with what looked like a spectacular snowcone with sweet and sour cherries that had been macerated in spicy port wine. maybe something was just off in the making given other good reviews this shaved ice treat got, but i felt like i got lots of ice and almost no flavor. definitely not worth the $3.80 but i’m probably willing to give num pang another go for the other sandwiches. i’d like to try the grilled skirt steak, the coconut tiger shrimp and the hoisin veal meatballs so i guess i will be back very soon. num pang, 21 east 12th street between 5th avenue and university place, manhattan, new york, 212.255.3271.