Admittedly, I have a minor obsession with any asian dish that takes classic flavors and adds a unique and modern twist. When I heard a Cambodian sandwich shop had opened in the West Village last spring, I got over there in record time! Num Pang features banh mi style sandwiches with a Cambodian take.
(photo courtesy of NY Eater)
All are served on semolina bread from Parisi Bakery, and layered with sliced cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots, and chili mayo. The first time I visited, I ordered the Grilled Skirt Steak Sandwich, which was a little pricey at $8.50. The second I took my first bite though- I knew the steep price was worth it. The bread was garlicky, fresh, and super crispy, while the steak was perfectly crusted with coriander and peppercorn. The crispiness of the veg tables stopped the generously portion of meat from being too overpowering, while the chili mayo packed the perfect spicy punch. I might even go so far as to say that it was the best sandwich I have ever had. Unfortunately, Num Pang and I had to part ways when I left New York City for the summer, but I stopped in almost immediately after I got back this fall. I ordered the same sandwich, only to be hugely disappointed. The bread was soggy and stale, and the meat was so undercooked it was bleeding onto the bread. The side of corn that I ordered was amazing though- if not a bit messy. Rolled in spicy mayonnaise and covered in roasted coconut flakes, this corn was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet and was definitely the bright spot of the meal.
Disappointed as I was with the sanwich, I decided to give Num Pang another try a few weeks later. I ordered the Five Spice Glazed Pork Belly, and was pretty satisfied with everything about it except for the excessive fattiness of the meat. Since, then I have also tried the Pulled Durac Pork, which is my current favorite.
(Pulled Duroc Pork without top bun pictured)
The pork is sweet and tender, and lays flat enough on the bread for the flavors of the spicy mayo and vegetables to really shine through. While Num Pang may not be consistent, the occasions when they produce that perfect sandwich make you forgive every past blunder.
Address: 21 E 12th St, New York 10003
Average Price: $8 per sandwich