Over 100 years before fusion cuisine was a trendy buzzword in New York restaurants, the French colonialism of Vietnam made its mark on the local cuisine. Composed of a baguette, grilled meats, pate, cilantro, pickled diakon and carrots, mayonnaise, sliced chilies and a chili sauce, the banh mi was born. This zesty concoction has found a welcome home in some very discerning New York City restaurants. We bring you a few of the best.
21 E. 12th St., 212-255-3271
140 E. 41st St., 212-867-8889
While the inventive concoctions at this two-location sandwich shop are grounded in tradition, a Cambodian influence is seen in the side dishes, with offerings like a fruit salad of lychee, pineapple, mango, papaya and mint. But the sammies are the highlight: A peppercorn catfish in soy sauce and pulled duroc pork with spiced honey are two must-try staples.
Banh Mi Zon
443 E. Sixth St., 646-524-6384
If Daryl Hall of the legendary ’80s band Hall and Oates deems this place good enough to appear in his hit web show “Live from Daryl’s House,” then you know the banh mi offerings are up to the task. In addition to the traditional pork, chicken and vegetarian sandwiches, this shop also gives sardines the banh mi treatment.
350 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, 718-449-8081
85 Bergen St., Brooklyn, 718-858-6818
These two Brooklyn banh mi shops serve generous portions of their delicately cooked meats, which are always tender and flavorful. They also offer a light or dark meat choice of chicken banh mi, and a vegetarian pork option. While there, be sure to check out their wide selection of bubble teas.
61 Lexington Ave., 212-532-1133
75 Nassau St., 212-510-8787
Simplicity is the key to the charm of Baoguette, which features a signature catfish sandwich adorned with cucumber relish, pickled onion and a honey mustard sauce. Another highlighted sammie is the Sloppy Bao — composed of curried beef, green mango, basil and lemongrass.
Banh Mi Saigon
198 Grand St., 212-941-1541
This no-frills Chinatown institution has been serving up delectable banh mi since 1987. At $4.25, you can’t beat the tasty savings.