It is no secret that I love vietnamese food, and I am on a mission to find great vietnamese near work. So far, it’s a total bust (like, seriously? What’s a girl have to do to get some bun up in here?). But I have found cambodian sandwiches, which are pretty dang close to vietnamese sandwiches and totally delicious.
The parallels between cambodian sandwiches and vietnamese sandwiches are many: first, “bahn mi” means “bread” in vietnamese, but has also come to mean a sandwich of pork and pate with cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and mayonnaise on a baguette. Similarly, “num pang” means “bread” in cambodian, but has also come to mean … a totally delicious little lunch spot popping up all over the City.
The other day I walked up to 48th, picked up a pulled pork sandwich at Num Pang, and then strolled down to the park to enjoy my lunch under the trees in the last warmth of summer. Stuffed with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo on a crunchy baguette (sound familiar?), the sandwich was totally delish. The pulled pork was meaty and a little bit sweet (I now see that the website says they make the pulled pork with honey, which I didn’t recognize at the time, but may have been what gave it the extra little umph?); the bread was crunchy, but not the kind of crunchy that feels like it’s destroying my gums (which is the worst), just with a nice chew and sog-resistant crust; the cucumber, cilantro and carrots were fresh and zesty, and the chili mayo really tied the whole thing together.
I also treated myself to an iced coffee, which met the very high expectations I have for vietnamese coffee (Num Pang labels this “cambodian iced coffee” but it was — to my uncivilized palate — indistinguishable from the vietnamese variety).
What I’ll get again: pulled duroc pork sandwich and a cambodian iced coffee.
Num Pang (Times Square)
148 48th Street, btw. 6th and 7th
Other locations: Battery Park City, Chelsea Market, Union Square, Grand Central and Nomad.