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Paris Sandwich - Good Bahn Mi?

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  • keith Jan 24, 2007 05:27 AM
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Saw FloFab's mention of a new Bahm Mi shop on Mott and Canal in today's Times, and I was wondering if anyone has tried it, and how it stacks up to the other Bahn Mi joints in Chinatown. Sounds like they're trying to go less "mom and pop" and more restaurant style.

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  1. The worst Banh Mi I have ever had. I entered the store and placed an order at the counter on my left. I paid, was given a receipt and directed ahead to another counter at the rear of the store. Seconds later I was handed a pre made sandwich. I sat down at a nearby table and inspected the sandwich. Tucked into a half wax paper sleeve is a long baguette, in fact the skinniest baguette I have ever seen. I opened it up and saw a skimpy mound of crumbled pork drenched in oil. Along side were a few skinny slivers of carrot and the white vegetable. There were two stalks of green that had the leafy part matted to the stalk by the abundant oil. I then realized I had not been asked how spicy I wanted my sandwich so I returned to the counter. I asked for hot sauce and was given a near empty bottle of Siraccha. I asked if they had any hot peppers and was told no. The counterman did not even look up as he gruffly answered. I ate about half the sandwich and tossed the rest in the garbage. I could not get the unpleasant oily taste out of my mouth for hours. The picture in the Times bore no resemblance to what I was served. Saigon Banh Mi, is one block away but is another world when it comes to serving tasty food. Stay far away from this place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: stuartlafonda

      Somehow I'm not surprised. I'll stick to Saigon Banh Mi. Thanks.

      1. re: guttergourmet

        Actually, I'd try again if I were you. It's true, you've gotta get to the other side quickly if you want them to hold the mayo or make it spicy. I went on a relatively busy weekend morning, and I got one vegetarian and one sardine sandwich. I was able to have them hold the mayo on one and make the other extra spicy, and they used jalepenos (the classic thing to use). The bread is totally different from Saigon - it's more French. Also, they leave out the cukes, which I miss. However, the sardines are higher quality than Saigon, adn the bread is really, really fresh and good. The oil was probably because you got the bottom scoop of pork, and though that's not excusable, it won't happen most of the time.

        Saigon's vegetarian (the "banh mi chay") destroys Paris'. However, Paris has a nice area to sit in, extremely good che (the bean and/or sweet rice drnks/desserts), and a good variety of Vietnamese foods packed fast-food style. Honestly, it's better Vietnamese food than in 75% of the other places in Chinatown and 90% of the other places in Manhattan. Also, the green tea waffle is incredible. Not green tea flavored at all - more just slightly sweet, very delish.

        I like Saigon when I need 40 sandwiches to go, but for a place to enjoy a sandwich, Paris is pretty good.

    2. does anybody know the address of this banh mi shop? thanks!

      1. I'm Vietnamese and Paris Banh Mi is the worst banh mi I've had and I've had banh mi from all over the city and many more on the West Coast, Boston, Montreal, Houston, and New Orleans. Of course, the best are in the more populated Vietnamese cities, but my favorites here in the city are still Saigon Banh Mi and Banh Mi So 1. Their meats and veggies are so much fresher and tastier. I prefer to have a quality product (banh mi) over a nice seat to put my butt in.

        1 Reply
        1. re: geekygirl

          Couldn't agree more.

        2. It is no question the worst Bahn Mi I had so far in the city. Correction: worst I have in my life! IMO it is very hard to screw up a Bahn Mi (though it is hard to find a REALLY good one), but Paris sandwich managed to screw it up very very badly. The bread was chewy (probably because the flour was of bad quality) and the meat is skimpy with no taste. More like bubber. Eating their sandwich was like a wrestling between the bahn mi and my gum and teeth because it was so styrofoam-like that it took a long time to chew. I tried to give them a second chance as I thought it might be one of those "off-day" that any restaurants might have. Nope, the second time was just as bad, if not worse. Honestly even if they give it out for free, I wouldn't even bother to get one.

          I don't usually give out comments so harsh, but this time I felt I needed to as there were people who said this is the best Bahn Mi in East Coast. It is either a joke or someone works there....

          1. I went there once. I ordered a sandwitch and did not realize it was supposed to be a Bahn Mi until..well...now.

            1. 1. paris bakery is really really terrible, nothing more to say on it.
              2. saigon banh mi (mott st a block or two north of canal) is at the back of a jade store and, is my fave manhattan chinatown banh mi fer real. the roast pork is outta control.

              10 Replies
              1. re: bigjeff

                Had one this weekend from Saigon on Mott-though not as warm as usual it was still suberb.

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  Is Saigon still selling premade sandwiches at peak times? That's a deal killer for me, though I do like their BBQ pork.

                  -----
                  Banh Mi Saigon
                  198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: guttergourmet

                    ya problematic is going on off-times and getting a pre-made one. if you ask nicely, they'll make up a fresh one for you for sure.

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Agree on the Paris bakery. I think they happened to be the place that served me the worst banh mi in my life. The bread was so rubbery that I thought I was chewing on styrofoam.

                      As for Saigon Bakery, I thought their sandwiches were no longer as good as as they used to be. Not only were the sandwiches pre-made, the cucumber pieces were so thick and pickles were unevenly distributed. The sandwiches just looked like they were sloppily made.

                      1. re: kobetobiko

                        incidentally, is there a sunset park Ba Xuyen killer out there? sietsema likes some placed called Thanh Da Inc II (http://www.villagevoice.com/nycguide/...); anyone concur?

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          Thanh Da is still there and it's still good.

                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                            ya went, and wrote a review of thanh da here:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5478...

                            it was damn good!

                            so all you banh mi enthusiasts, let's agree to leave this thread alone, lest people still think paris bakery is relevant in the world of banh mi? hahahaha. I know I'm doing the opposite by posting but . . . .

                        2. re: kobetobiko

                          I go once a month or so. The key really is to ask for a fresh one. They'll be happy to do it, and I find they take a lot more care when making them to order.

                    2. re: bigjeff

                      Saigon seems to be in a definite and prolonged slide. This has come up in a few recent threads. Not so the others, pretty much as they were. Darn shame.

                      1. re: addictedtolunch

                        saigon has dropped off a bit...still, it's corner bistro when compared to paris's burger king.

                    3. I like them. I work late and they remain open later than any other place. Of the 2 times I've been, the bread was always crunchy for me, maybe I need a larger sample size. My favorite is still the one on broome street though.

                      For convienence sometimes I get bahn mi from vietnamese restaurants like nam son on grand. The bread is usually crunchy. The sandwich filling is usually less though :( on the positive side, when I ask for spicy they use jalapeno peppers instead of siracha.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: randumbposter

                        Saigon and No.1 will both add fresh chili peppers if you ask for them.

                      2. I went to Paris Sandwich too on the recommendation of a friend and was totally disappointed. I still can't get over the rubbery meat the lack of PICKLED veggies. The carrots tasted completely plain without any of the sweetness that a good pickling will give. And goddmanit, there was no pate on my "classic" bahn mi sandwich. I'm definitely going to go to Saigon to check out the competition. (I thought there was a hole in the wall on Mulberry that was good too, but now i have no idea where it is)

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Eaterlover

                          Au Chau at 82 Mulberry between Canal and Bayard, east side of the street, mid block. O.K. but not nearly as good as Saigon at 138 Mott.

                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                            I'm salivating for Mott street already! thanks for the rec

                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                              I liked Saigon, but here's a few differences from the bahn mi sandwiches I do know in Chicago:
                              Bread - Crusty and ENORMOUS, I always thought vietnamese bread was a softer, chewier alternative to baguettes
                              Meat - crumbly and spiced, I was expected the usual mix of head cheese and pate, maybe I ordered wrong?
                              Greens - Waaay more cucumber than I was used to

                              While Saigon was solid, it's still no Ba Le in the little Vietnam in Chicago.

                              1. re: stuartlafonda

                                I had my first banh mi at Au Chau and did not like it at all. The soft bread may have been more authentic, but it still didn't cut it in the flavor department. The sandwich itself was a roller coaster of flavors, but nothing was in balance. The pickles were very sweet, the mayo was rich, the pate was bland and the entire time I couldn't help but think that the sandwich was crying out for some cilantro. Had I thought that this was as good as banh mi gets, I would never have tried Saigon, which I thought was a fantastic sandwich (even though I did get one of the pre-made ones).

                              2. re: Eaterlover

                                i didn't read the earlier post but i was actually craving a bahn mi yesterday. when i remembered the last 1 ate at paris sandwich, i went to get a hamburger instead. terrible for all the reasons mentioned above. so bad i couldn't finish it. rubbery meat is what made me throw it out.

                              3. Banh mi virgin here! Im a serious, nonpicky eater and i feel like ive been missing out. I think im gonna hit saigon this weekend to try one of these.

                                heres my question what exactly do i order? If i go up and ask for a banh mi, is that sufficient or do i need specify filling ( pork, pate, etc)? And if i DO need to specify, what should i get first!?

                                THANKS!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: bastet212

                                  I was at Saigon last week - only my second banh mi (!) - and we ordered the pork, which I think is the number one. There's a list above the counter that spells out the choices. At the place we went to in Sunset Park, we enjoyed both the pork and the sardine, but I'd try a pork one for your first one. Enjoy!

                                  For other treats in the area (they were new to me, may not be to you), check out:

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/52456...

                                  I definitely recommend checking out the tangerine sorbet at the ice cream place.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    If you want a good "fancy" version, go to Momofuku Ssam Bar. Their banh mi is awesome! It is much more expensive than your normal banh mi, but it is also extremely good!

                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                      Ah - I forgot - that was my second one! And it was wonderful, as was everything else there.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        it's a very very good sandwich/experience. i don't know that i would call it a banh mi and i know it's not 'authentic,' but it is doggone tasty!

                                  2. re: bastet212

                                    so, bastet212, did you pop your banh mi cherry? always safe to just ask for a number 1, spicy. that'll cover it for sure!

                                  3. I was on Mott at 8am this morning and Saigon Bakery was closed. In desperation I went to Paris sandwich. Ordered the bbq pork. They got my order wrong and gave me the grilled pork instead. Even with that, it wasn't so terrible. The bread was warm and fresh. The jalapenos and carrots, however, were as tasteless as the non-existent de rigeur cucumber. The grilled pork (though chopped into tiny cubes) reminded me a little of Nicky's pork chop banh mi on 2nd Street but not as good. Next time I'm back to Saigon down the block for sure.

                                    1. I've always liked Nicky's on 2nd St and 1st (or around about there!).

                                      1. I had a wonderful bahn mi this afternoon from Saigon Bakery. I had the #4 (Pate & Cha), The bread was fresh and crusty, the pate and meat were flavorful and the accompanying pickles and greens were fragrant and added just the right variety. I couldn't believe this huge sandwich was $3.75 anywhere, let alone in Manhattan. I could have saved the second half for a snack later on, but it was too tasty so I wolfed it down.

                                        Thanks to all you Chowhounds for your sharp, faithful reporting!

                                        Tomorrow I'm going to try Bahn Mi No 1 (on Grand). So many restaurants, so little time...

                                        1. I've tried most of the banh mi joints in chinatown, and a fair few outside. Banh mi Saigon is the best by far. Everything tastes fresh/vibrant, and the bread is always nice and crisp. No. 1 is good in a pinch, and has a larger vegetarian sandwich selection, but the bread is often a bit soggy.

                                          The sandwiches at paris are anemic, and lack flavor, while Nicky's banh mis are a gloppy, leaden affairs that left me feeling a bit ill.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: monamiferdinand

                                            I'm apparently the only one ever here with a preference for Sau Voi, whose sandwich is, to my taste buds, in better proportion. Saigon now and then can stick in a humongous tree of something or other which throws the proportion and temperature of the ingredients off.

                                          2. I finally had the occasion to try the bánh mì at Paris Sandwich last week. Twice, in fact. I enjoyed it, and cannot relate to some of the more scathing criticisms of the store (most of which are from 2007 and 2008).

                                            When I ordered my sandwich, I was explicitly asked if I wanted it spicy or not. The sandwiches were prepared exactly as I asked for them — spicy, in this case, means adding thinly sliced jalapeño peppers to the other vegetables. I wasn't eating during the lunch rush, when older posts suggest you'd mostly get pre-made sandwiches. Everything was made to order, which meant waiting up to five minutes. But there was adequate seating, which most bánh mì shops seem short on.

                                            The fillings were tasty, though not as much so as other shops I've been to. Where Paris Sandwich seems to shine is the bread. They make everything in the shop using convection oven cabinets that you can see from the dining area. These are among the best Vietnamese baguettes I've had in town.

                                            I'm curious how many people who did NOT like this place came to them at lunch time, when their culinary craft degrades into a soulless conveyor belt.