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Province mantou sandwiches

Just had a couple of fantastic little sandwiches from the brand new Province Chinese Canteen on Walker a couple blocks south of Canal. Today's just their third day open, so they're serving a limited menu of their specialty sandwiches, cold sesame noodles and tofu salad. Both sandwiches I tried were excellent, with clean vibrant flavors coming through clearly. The braised pork shoulder sandwich is on par with the momofuko version, but uses Province's special sesame-seed studded bread (thinner and denser than most mantou I've had). The tender meat is balanced nicely with cilantro and delicately pickled cucumber slices. The short rib and kimchi version is also quite nice, with a good spicy kick to it. Both sandwiches were exceptionally clean, without any greasy mouthfeel whatsoever.

Sandwiches are small, about 3 inches in diameter, so one isn't likely to satisfy. The price is quite reasonable though, at $3.75 each or two for $6.50 (3 for $9.50). I'll be going back next Monday to try the grilled chicken sandwich.

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  1. thanks for the tip -- sounds like an excellent banh mi substitute (hey, even the most delicious chow merits a substitute now and then). the short rib sounds like a winner to me -- any recollection as to whether or not a (semi) vegetarian would have any options, be it fish-ish or all veg?

    1 Reply
    1. re: david sprague

      I had a delicious mushroom sandwich there yesterday.. It's not on the permanant menu, but I hope it's added!!

    2. Nope, the only veggie option right now is the tofu salad. The cold sesame noodles comes with chicken or roast pork. Their menu does have a cryptic note though: "Please check back soon for our expanded menu". I'll have a chat with them next week and will report back.

      1. Just had another fine lunch at Province. The cold sesame noodles with roast pork was the real standout dish -- too often, sesame noodles are overly greasy or heavy...not so with this version, which is fresh and vibrant. That seems to be the general theme at this new Tribeca minimalist joint -- everything I've tried so far at Province is lighter and cleaner than a lot of NYC Chinese food tends to be. Flavors are clearly defined and combinations are simpler -- sandwiches have only one or two garnishes, each of which plays a distinctive role flavorwise. They had a new sandwich on special today, spicy pork with pickled radish, which was quite tasty. This time I brought a friend so we could try each of the four available sandwiches -- the short rib with kimchi and the spicy pork were the best of the lot. The chicken with cilantro and pickled cucumber was moist and tasty, but suffered in direct comparison with the pork (as chicken almost always does). The braised shoulder was good, but not quite as flavorful as it was last week. Today's mantou was better than last week, fresher and less dense.

        I think this joint has serious potential. It's an interesting concept -- upmarket but affordable Chinese sandwiches in a hipster lunch counter setting -- only time will tell whether it'll work. I've not run into similar mantou sandwiches elsewhere, so I'm certainly hoping they flourish. I suspect that as word spreads and they get busier, they'll find their groove and start churning out consistently excellent dishes.

        6 Replies
        1. re: dennison

          I remember seeing a menu with sandwiches made from scallion pancakes (another interesting concept) - but I can't recall which restaurant it was...

          1. re: piccola

            I just talked with a friend that is going to China again. He spoke of a scallion pancake "breakfast" item that fills the pancake with scarambled eggs & sauces it up then folds it eating it like a taco...sounds great but can we get it in NYC? He said he can only find them on the streets of Beijing?!

            1. re: cubanat

              Not so. I saw it somewhere downtown. Possibly in a dumpling or a bahn mi shop. (My memory of that day is a bit blurred by all I ate.)

              1. re: piccola

                thanks for the link, love the photos & site. Oops! but thanks above & below this post!

            2. re: piccola

              You prob saw a review of Vanessas Dumplings http://egustibus.wordpress.com/2006/0.... I am going to try this out for dinner tonight.

              1. re: josefr

                YES!! That's it! It's been bugging me for days.

          2. This is in TriBeCa, not Chinatown? What's the cross street?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pan

              On the corner of Church and Walker, two blocks south of Canal. Right across the street from Bread Tribeca.

            2. Any idea what time they open?


              1 Reply
              1. re: Desidero

                Give them a ring. The menu sheet I took gives their number as 212.925.1205 and their address as 305 Church Street.

              2. They were at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival yesterday (saturday) out in Flushing's Fresh Meadows. I assume they will be there again today.

                Not sure why it's being called Mantou, but the sesame studded bread they use seemed inspired by the Fukianese "bagel"..my favorite place to get the 1 dollar braised pork sandwhich is under the train tracks at East Broadway and Division.

                1. Hling, lurking at the dragon boat fest! by the time I got there (around 3:30pm on saturday) many of the food vendors were already sold out except for the over-priced soggy goods from white dragon bakery. were there ANY good eats? I just went to see my friend's band play, but was sorely disappointed by the food offerings.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bigjeff

                    By the time we were done with our performance around 3 PM on Saturday the Province Chinese Canteen were getting low on their sandwiches. I waited around for a Short Rib & Kimchee sandwich while I ate the Spicy Pork. They were priced at $3.50 each. Since I had those food coupons two of us got three. They were good. The Pork Shoulder was quite fatty. It has potentials...could have been more tender...but then they were doing this out doors.
                    The next day they had the cold noodles (chicken, Chinese BBQ Pork, and spicy tofu) which were $6. It was a good portion though. My friends who looked on with envy and who tried a bite all loved it.

                    Other than that there was a Jamaican food stand that seemed nice, but i didn't get to try. The grill corn was very popular Because of the season, the corn were juicy and tender. Other than that it's the Shish Kebob...and other Chinese bakery stuff.

                    By the way, at noon on Sunday, there was a dumpling eating contest sponsored by Chef One....Not exactly what I would call chowhoundish event...the winner ate 41 dumplings.

                  2. I tried this place yesterday.

                    Had two sandwiches, one pork shoulder and one short rib w/ kimchi. I thought they were both very good with a slight advantage to the short rib.

                    There were two guys working, who I assume were the owners, they were very nice. They should start delivering soon.

                    I hope the place does well.

                    1. ok, so we just ate a takeout order from this place for lunch: 2 chicken sandwiches, 5 braised pork shoulder sandwiches, 2 spicy pork sandwiches and 6 short ribe and kimchi sandwiches, plus 4 orders of sesame noodles with roast pork. each person had two or three sandwiches, plus noodles and the consensus is: GOOD.

                      the bread, close to mantou or baozi, is steamed as individual tops and bottoms, as opposed to a whole one cut in half horizontally for the filling, but topped w/ sesame and griddled (with the short-order-cook-trowel-type thing). excellent bread, not dense, pretty light, but filling, considering their size. a bit sweet, and excellent. the fillings were great; all were tasty, all were distinct, all will be repeats. the sesame noodles get rave reviews for their uniqueness (not super gummy, not full of peanut butter) but I thought they were on the sweet side. fresh ingredients, great roast pork (super smoky) and even the tofu in the noodles was smoky. all in all, extremely fresh experience. and, they travel extremely well! due to the bread, the sauces actually got nice and juicy in the interior of the sandwich, yet, it was very easy to take bites without having the entire filling come out, or squirt out the other side.

                      we had a great time chatting with the cashier/owner as we waited for our order (not that long, considering it was 15 sandwiches and noodles, all freshly assembled) and admired the kooky-industrial decor; I think it's really great and it was packed with people, sitting down and also waiting for takeout.

                      they are on the northeast corner of church and walker and totally worth seconds and thirds.

                        1. re: mwise

                          they open at 12noon, and close around 7:30 or 8. I think at least M-F and probably on the weekend as well. phone is 212.925.1205

                        2. Great find Dennison. I checked it out today. If you work on the west side, it's easy to get to, being just a couple of blocks from the Canal St A,C,E station. I ordered two sandwiches because I wanted to try more things, but one would have been plenty for me -- got the short rib & kimchi and the braised pork shoulder, both delicious. This is the best thing I've had in a while. Highly recommend it before it gets swarmed. It's already attracting lunch crowds from the under-served office buildings to the west of it.
                          Here's a scan of the current menu:

                          1. Just tried this place for lunch today. It has appeared to have caught on, because by 1:00pm there was a line out the door. The prices seem to have gone up slightly too since the first post (2 sandwiches were 7.50, 3 were 10.75) Although, considering Tribeca's lunch options, I consider this a good deal. I tried the chicken sandwich with pickled cucumbers and cilantro, and the short rib sandwich with kim chee. Both were excellent. Also tried the cold tofu salad (around $4) which was very clean and fresh tasting. Great addition to the neighboorhood. They had a few special sandwiches on the menu, including a mackerel sandwich that looked interesting. I asked if they were open on weekends and they said they were open on Saturdays. Overall, excellent lunch option. Worth a try. (there was a NYTimes article about this place recently)

                            1. Is this a sandwich that will travel well? Getting on a plane today and this sounds like it could be a perfect dinner. Would this be an option that would not be overly fragrant? Don't want to offend the neighbors (or make them jealous)

                              1. Forget about sesame pancakes with beef at Eldridge Dumpling House or Vanessa's, forget about bings at Roll & Dough, forget about even berkshire pork belly buns or ssams at Momofuku ----I just had a spicy pork,a pork shoulder and a short ribs kimchi sandwich-3 sandwiches for only $11!!!!!!-at Province Chinese Canteen on what must be the most delicious corner of Tribeca-Church and Walker-across the street from Bread Tribeca. These sandwiches kick major ass.

                                1. Adding a link. I keep dreaming of these. Maybe the best thing I ate on my trip to NY.

                                  Province Chinese Canteen
                                  305 Church St, New York, NY 10013