Friday, October 07, 2005

Eatin' Out: Manhattan Banh Mi Smackdown!

Banh Mi So 1 369 Broome btw Mott & Elizabeth
Saigon Banh Mi 138 Mott btw Grand & Hester
Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches 150 E 2nd @ Ave A

The only thing I am comparing between these 3 shops is your classic Vietnamese sandwich: pate, shredded pork, cilantro, carrots, cucumbers, hot peppers/sauce on a toasted and lightly buttered light french baguette. The key is having the flavors blend with each other yet remain distinct: the crunch of the pickled veggies, the burst of meat goodness and the distinct punches thrown by the chilis and cilantro have to be balanced.

Banh Mi So 1 takes the crown for me and thankfully, is within walking distance for lunch in Soho – Saigon is a strong contender but seems a little less fresh/heavier on the meat than the Banh Mi So 1 entry. Nicky’s is solid, but costs more and is flatter, flavor-wise, than the Chinatown entries. Of course, if Nicky’s was in my neighborhood, I’d probably eat there twice a week.

All that said, calling something the “Best Banh Mi” is irrelevant because it’s hard to make a bad Banh Mi. Grab a Banh Mi, and an iced Vietnamese coffee for a total of about $5 on a sunny day, and enjoy one of the best meals possible while thanking god you live somewhere you can get one of these.

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