Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: sandwich

New York City 2012: Bánh Mì Zòn – Wicked Vietnamese Sandwiches

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I’m in the midst of hammering out a proper article. I’m experiencing full-blown Hamster Complex (you know, the one where you want to destroy something you’ve created?), and should stop before I trash it in rage and regret it after. There are only so many words that I can beat out of my brain into something that – hopefully – doesn’t sound nauseatingly contrived considering the…genre…of material I’ve been forced to read and re-read this past week, as some of you may know. I am giving up on that for the moment and resuming my usual food-psychobabble.

What a relief. Urgh.

I’m continuing with my chain of sandwich posts, and have saved the best for last.

I had long since given up hope of finding the perfect Bánh Mì in Singapore. I may not have tried hard enough, but no matter. There’s no point anymore. Bánh Mì Zòn has got it. This small eatery in East Village NYC will send all other imitation Vietnamese sandwich stalls running back home, tails between their legs.

A Vietnamese friend, of unusually small appetite (it’s true isn’t it Linh?) had remarked that the sandwich at Bánh Mì Zòn is better than what she could find in Vietnam, and had thereafter proceeded to polish off the entire thing on her own. So if my unrestrained rambling has made everyone skeptics by now, that should add some credibility.

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This is a Bánh Mì (pronounced ‘bang-mee’ – for real), a Vietnamese-style sandwich. The Zon Sandwich ($6.50) has made me realise how my palate has been asleep all my life, and has never readied itself enough for so much sensation. Some part of me feels guilty for sharing this experience on such a public space, to be gloating about having eaten something that most of everyone else has not. I would apologise in advance, except that I truly feel smug about this. I hope you understand.

I know I said that Taïm‘s Falafel Sandwich is the epitome of an awesome sandwich, but I have to retract my words. I have gone back to that post and edited that line out. I am serious. This is the perfect sandwich. Does it not look like The Perfect Sandwich? What obscene filling-to-bread ratio is that?! Nine to one, or something.

Packed into the cavity of a warm, crackly footlong baguette is a dizzying mix of freshly sliced Vietnamese bologna and pork head cheese, a generous schmear of sweet pork pâté, fragrant pork floss, cool and crunchy shreds of vegetables just lightly pickled and tangy, and a chockful of shockingly green cilantro. It’s a riot of flavour and texture, an Adult-Only party in the mouth. The bread itself remains unrivaled, fluffy and crisp, yielding easily with each bite. And I never eat cilantro raw, in any amount, but to much of my bewilderment, the bed of cilantro worked. I ate them all. With mighty squirts of Sriracha sauce.

The second time I returned, I ordered the same footlong sandwich and demolished it. Heck, anyone can finish this on their own. This is a sarnie that will surprise you in more ways than one.

Bánh Mì Zòn

Address: 443 E.6th St. New York, NY 10009

Opening Hours: 

Tue-Sat: Noon-9pm

Sun: Noon-8pm. 

Closed Monday.

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New York City 2012: Porchetta

DSC_1616Porchetta – the single, most carnal name ever allowed to grace a meat dish.

So if you happen to name your establishment after the hallowed Italian Roast Pork Of The Gods, I’m going to expect choirs of angels trumpeting my entrance into the shop till kingdom come.

Needless to say, my divine encounter didn’t happen, but I had this greet me, which was pretty darn close:

DSC_1615A bronzed, crackling Belly of The Beast.

I didn’t manage to sink my teeth into any while I was on real Italian soil (remember my shame for not asking for some while at Dario’s?), so this was the nearest thing to redemption, or perhaps the closest thing to self-pity. Either way, I’d rather not ponder further on that.

Pork belly, with boned-out pork loins stuffed in its core, rolled up in alternating layers of fat, meat, herbs, salt, and skin, is tied up with string and roasted till the moist meat yields to the slightest pressure of a butcher knife, here, in an oven here at Porchetta. I know, I know, I can’t help but feel that I’m still short-changing myself at the end of the day, having never tasted Italian Porchetta the Italian way (rhyme!), roasted over wood and hauled up to a wooden chopping board for a feast. But still, this is salty, salty meat, of the most primeval kind. I’m having it.

DSC_1613The star in all this is, of course, the meat. It doesn’t quite matter what else you have with it, or what vehicle you require to get it into your mouth. I went wild for the crackly chunks of skin, like salty nuggets of treasure among fantastically seasoned and flavourful meat. The herbs used were suitably earthy, presumably a mixture of some thyme, sage, rosemary, and garlic. Perfect.  I would have liked more skin. A lot more skin, and a lot more meat. Perhaps a larger sandwich.

Oh just give me the whole hog.

We shared a Porchetta Sandwich ($12), yet given the choice again, I’d pass on the dry ciabatta (which was unfortunate, really) and order up a Porchetta Plate ($15) instead. I also didn’t quite hear a choir of angels, not even a squeak, but I was somewhat pleased nevertheless. I would be content with a healthy serving of porchetta and garlic sautéed greens, which I’m assuming are broccoli rabe or some kind of chard or chicory, of the slightly bitter variety, perfect as an accompaniment to savoury meat.

Porchetta doesn’t have much seating since most locals do take-aways, but there are about eight seats inside. All things considered, this is still a rather pricey sandwich, but it’s probably the closest to Italy that I’ll be.

And if I had the chance to head to New York City again, I’d just live in the Lower East Side. That’s where all the food that you’ll ever need to care about reside. That was an unintended rhyme.

Porchetta

Address: 

110 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)

Fosters – High Tea

Fosters

If there’s anything the past 8 months or so of my life has taught me, it’s that Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are non-obligatory meals. It’s true! I have my own theory why those are the main meals of the day, the ones that people focus on, the ones that dieticians reiterate must be taken at regular timings for a healthy system: Most people get hungry every 3-4 hours.

But then there are those that do every couple of hours or so – or are just eating every couple of hours, hungry or not – and if creating a few additional fancy-named mealtimes is the solution, then so be it.

And so you have Brunch, High Tea, Low Tea (not joking), Supper, Elevenses, and Second Breakfasts…

In essence, they just all mean one thing: I eat whenever I want.

That whole ‘eat 4-5 small meals a day’ advice? Psh! People have been doing it for centuries! About time we realised it’s good for our digestive health.

Devonshire Cream Tea Set ($10.50)

So I had Tea at Fosters the other day. I’m not going to bother differentiating High Teas and Low Teas because that’s just tedious. If I’m having a pot of Ceylon, buttery warm scones with jam and cream, regardless of the time of the day, I’m calling it Tea.

But of course Fosters begin their Devonshire Cream Tea Set from 3-6pm, so an exercise of patience was in order.

I’m not entirely sure how the English have their proper teas, but I suppose Fosters would be the closest with its Old English charm, high-backed armchairs, whimsical candelabras and the lone suit of armour in a corner. Nevermind that you have a backdrop of lush tropical vines and creepers out front, because the lazy sunlight filtering through the slated rooftop crafts that perfect teatime haze to go with your mid-afternoon lull. Read more of this post

Hatched

Hatched

I do plenty of silly things now and then, and lately, I’ve run out of excuses for the mindless things I’ve done.  It’s like there’s some missing link between my thought processes that my brain just skips without realising.

I have no excuse for dining at an egg-inspired all-breakfast place and not ordering anything to do with eggs.

Really. Don’t bother waiting for my explanation because I have none.

I wasn’t thinking. (Haven’t been doing that for a while, and…wait, is that considered an excuse? Shrugs.)

So I returned to Hatched to redeem myself. Read more of this post