Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Sandwich to Build a Dream On

There are food experiences that transcend you to another level of culinary understanding. First escargot. First champagne. First raw oyster. Friday brought me a new one: my first Vietnamese sandwich.

My good friend, Abe, took me to the unassuming Num Pang, near Union Square on 12th Street. We waited for our orders upstairs, while admiring the mantras on the walls:

Advice directed specifically at me:

If only I could get away with this one:

I don't know how I never knew about this place. Check out the Sriracha placed every 8 inches on the counters! Apparently, this place is jam-packed every lunch and dinner, so being there on the early side gave us a place to ourselves. Notice the paint splattered windows. I love those little touches.

I'm not really sure where I've been living without knowing about these places. Where were they when I was in Vietnam? Most likely, right in front of my face, but I was too obsessed with pho at the time to notice (guess I was too phocused). These baguette sandwiches, called banh mi, are popping up all over the place now, and with good reason. I am passionate about sandwiches, especially meaty, gooey ones. I never dreamed the American sandwich could be improved.
Abe, the vegetarian, had roasted cauliflower with chinese & thai eggplant spread and soy milk chili mayo. I had five spiced pork belly with pickled Asian pear. My God.

My pork belly baguette was almost too big for my mouth, but I managed.

I love going out to eat with Abe because I can have sauce and meat all over my face and he will still love me. As if a poetic, flawless sandwich wasn't enough, they were less than 8 bucks- in Union Square. You must, must go. Or find a Vietnamese sandwich place where you live.

Take a bite and feel your life change.

1 comment:

  1. Your uncle would LOVE to eat one of these sandwiches with you. You would look the same! I was stunned the first time I saw him eat a sandwich, taco, ... now I just look away. I will take a photo of him eating a sandwich and you'll know what I mean.
    I forgot you were in Vietnam. My nephew is married to a Vietnamese, Nga. She came here when she was 10 after her father, a South Vietnamese military officer, evacuated his four daughters as the North was about to invade. My nephew loves Vietnam and has been several times, but then met Nga in the same town of 3,000 where they live in the desert.