ISO banh mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches)
Does anybody know a source for banh mi near Sunnyside? My current options appear to be either a shortish trip to Grand Central's NEM (downstairs on the west end of the dining concourse) where they're okay, but seven bucks. OR, a longer trek to Flushing, where they're much cheaper ($2.50 at Pho Bang) and better (but then I'm stuck in Flushing with a full stomach and nothing else to do but go home). These sandwiches are such a specific and intense craving for me--- knowing a place that's close to home sure would improve my life.
I'd also welcome city-wide opinions on where the BEST banh mi can be found.
Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich. It's a chewy French roll filled smeared on one side with mayo, the other side with liver pate. Usually they contain slivers of pickled carrots and cucumber, a bunch of cilantro, some kind of meat (e.g. grilled strips of marinated pork or beef, grilled shrimp, or a weird bologna-like cold cut item, or some combination of the above), and chili sauce. They might also contain fresh bean sprouts, or onion, or hot peppers. Very rich and satisfying, yet surprisingly refreshing. For a more detailed and thoughful examination of banh mi, check out the essay in John Thorne's book "Pot on the Fire".
Stuck in Flushing with a full stomach and nothing to do... I know the feeling!!! The library is a decent place to kill an hour before venturing out to eat again.
Here are two sandwich options: the first is at the Manhattan entrance to the Manhattan bridge, at Bowery and Canal, near the Buddhist temple. They are pretty good, and while I won't disclose the price on these boards, you'll be glad you didn't go to Nem.
The best ones I've had are in Sunset Park, on 8th Avenue and around 54th St. There is no place to go to eat these, though, except maybe to sit on someone's stoop. Ask for hot peppers, if you're so inclined.
I don't think Northwest Queens has any Vietnamese food. Elmhurst does, but really it's easier to get to Flushing from here.
re: Chris Armstrong
re: Michael L.
I'd have to agree that Sunset Park is my choice, also good for Pho, especially on a cold morning. (Since it's a breakfast soup, really).
What makes the Banh Mi so good, at least in Vietnam, apart from the filling, is that the baguettes used are partially made with rice flour. This gives them that super crisp, crackly exterior. One small nod to colonialism, for teaching the Vietnamese to bake baguettes better than the French!