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Baoguette, curry hill

I finally had a chance to try this place today and wanted to make a quick update here.

It's a very, very good little banh mi place, particularly for where it is in the city. Nothing like it nearby, for sure. And much better than the banh mi you can get at Bao's Noodles, down on 2nd and 23rd (the only other banh mi I know of in the area).

The bread is really the best part for me. It was very a fresh, nicely browned torpedo of a baguette with a good crackly crust. That, to me is usually the failing of most banh mi places in the city.

I had the pork, which is a mixture of bbq pork, pate and what they call a terrine. I think next time I'd just go for the BBQ pork, but regardless, it was very good. My only complaint is that even though I asked for it spicy, I could hardly find a pepper on the sandwich.

For $5 even, it's a good lunch bargain. Next time I want to try the catfish banh mi ($7).

My all time favorite banh mi in the city is still A Chau Deli on Mulberry in Chinatown (which always seems a little more fresh than saigon banh mi to me), but this place holds up pretty favorably even to those.

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  1. glad to hear the bread is improved. The week they opened all the bread was stale....

    1. I finally tried it last night on my way home from work. I also got the pork banh mi, which I enjoyed. I too asked for it spicy and it wasn't very. My guess is by "spicy" they mean a little dash of sriracha. I was very pleased about the amount of other stuff on the sandwich too.... the cilantro, carrots and daikon were great. Some people noted in a thread last week that the bread was stale, so I was conscious of that. My bread was perfect. I was half expecting it to be stale because I went in at about 7:30.

      I have been ordering from Bao Noodles because that was the only game in the hood for a while. This was a far superior verision, in my opinion. In fact, the Bao Noodles version nearly turned me off of banh mi because they use too much mayo and not enough of anything else... giving it a heavy, too-rich feeling.

      Since it was dinner, I also got the green papaya salad. This was also a nice surprise. There were a lot of herbs and fried shallots, as well as shrimp.

      For $10, it was a great bargain. I'll definitely go back. Probably too often, in fact.

      21 Replies
      1. re: egit

        ginsbera, yeah, the bread was perfect today. More fresh than any banh mi place I've tried in the city, actually. I was there at lunch, but given egit's dinner experience, maybe they are just doing a better job with having fresh bread?

        egit, ooh... nice tip on the green papaya salad. I don't know that I've had that at a Vietnamese place. But I love it at Thai restaurants.

        I had the same experience at Bao Noodles. They were the only game in town, so I went there. Baoguette has completely replaced them. Better food and cheaper prices.

        Has anyone tried the noodles at Baoguette? They were advertising spicy beef noodle soup when I was there... (Bún bò Huế maybe?). No idea if it's good or not.

        1. re: adamclyde

          It seems to me that they're more about banh mi than anything else. I'll probably give one of the soups a try when (if!) I burn out on the sandwiches.

          They had a few improbable sounding offerings too... something like a beef stew banh mi or.. i dunno, something like that. I figured for my first visit there I should check out what they view as their Standard. I wasn't disappointed.

          Thai/Viet Green Papaya salad: I think they're the same. You'll probably find fried shallots in vietnamese versions... but even so, not all of them.

          1. re: egit

            yeah, the beef was "sloppy spicy beef" or something like that. From the looks of it, it was a ground beef kind of concoction, that, frankly resembled sloppy joe meat.

            It really didn't sound/look appealing at all to me. But given the strength of the other sandwiches, my guess its better than it's billed.

            Regardless, my next visit will be for the catfish banh mi.

            1. re: adamclyde

              I had the sloppy beef sandwich last week and loved it! It's not like a ground meat sloppy joe, but a thick spicy beef stew that's been braised for hours. The meat was very tender and flavorful, and it was a perfect warming sandwich on a snowy day. Definitely give it a try!

              1. re: KiwiGirl625

                The spicy beef stew (aka "Bo Koh Banh Mi") is a classic Vietnamese dish. When properly made is very thick, spicy, and nothing akin to sloppy joe. Did they serve it with the baguette on the side (as is usually done), or were the beef chunks tucked inside the baguette sandwich style?

                1. re: kathyyl

                  hey kathy,

                  got any specific recs? please see me link below:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/584279

                  love that stuff!

                  1. re: kathyyl

                    They serve it in the bread. Mmm, I think I'll go get one for dinner tonight.

                  2. re: KiwiGirl625

                    yeah, my assumption was that this was one of those occasions where a dish is a lot more authentic than they make it sound!

                    Good to know. After I try the catfish version, I'll give the beef version a try.

                  3. re: adamclyde

                    At Baoguette, these are two different dishes. According to Ed Levine's review ( http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/0... ), the sloppy bao "features minced spicy curried beef, green mango, and basil...but it doesn't pack much heat." It's served on the baguette, as you can see in the Serious Eats photo.

                    The spicy beef stew I tried today includes chunks of beef, carrot, and daikon; on behalf of his wife, who speaks little English, Mr. Huynh added that the stew is also flavored by anise and lemon grass. The baguette is served on the side, though where it ends up is up to you ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingin... ).

                    1. re: DaveCook

                      that baguette looks nice and crusty, unlike most of the pillowy bread you get with at dish at most viet places. yum!

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        in my opinion, that's what sets baoguette apart. I've had better filling. Certainly spicier (I haven't found any heat there, and nary a jalapeno). But the combination of good filling with outstanding bread is what makes baoguette special. Oh, and it's location...

                        1. re: adamclyde

                          sorry; referring specifically to the beef stew dish; very rare to find a great banh mi stand that also happens to have those hot-type dishes (or a great viet. restaurant that has great banh mi); with baoguette's fancy pedigree, that bread should be great with what looks like a nice deep stew. regardless, it must all be better than l'annam (probably the nearest, and most tired, alternative)

                          1. re: adamclyde

                            the bread cuts your mouth. they have made it better since they opened, but it is still way too hard and crunchy. Everyone at my office that has had food from here agrees, good filling, good price for the area, poor bread.

                            1. re: ginsbera

                              The bread is absolutely NOT poor. It's made in-house and it's quite fresh and crispy. A cut on the top of your mouth is no excuse for switching to gross, soggy bread.

                              1. re: anonymousfoodperson

                                I believe it's made at a bakery, specifically on Tom Cat Bakery bread, not in house. I don't know if it is toyed with at Baoguette or not, but it is just too hard. I'm not looking for soft, soggy bread, that would be a crime, but rather something with a bit more give. I'm not the only one with this gripe, I've seen it on Serious Eats and on this board. I'll return and eat the banh mi here, it is an improvement over some of the other area lunch spots, but I will not crown this the best banh mi in the city by any means.

                                1. re: ginsbera

                                  Ok fair enough... it definitely did cut me a little =) I guess I'm just so happy that there's a banh mi spot near my work...

                          1. re: LeahBaila

                            thats what I need to try, looked amazing when I saw someone eating it the other day.

                            1. re: ginsbera

                              Yep...it's good stuff. I like spooning mine over their white rice.

                              www.thelunchbelle.com

                    2. re: adamclyde

                      I had the BBQ Chicken sandwich today and the Spicy Beef Noodle soup. The soup was good, not exactly super spicy but it had a little kick to it. The beef was pretty good inside and man there was a lot of it! They really didn't skimp on the beef and noodles. For $13 my SO and were beyond stuffed. Nice addition to the neighborhood

                      1. re: roze

                        I've only had that Hue-style beef noodle soup at one other place (world of taste, in the bronx); I'd like to try it at this place although of course, I should really be going for the sarnies. can you describe this soup a bit more?

                  4. Went here last night for my first ever banh mi. I obv have nothing to compare it too, but I thought it was really good. I had the BBQ chicken, bread was fresh, good amount of mayo and spice. Delish, filling dinner for $6, can't beat that!

                    1. It's gotta be the best $5 lunch in the neighborhood but just want to let people know that this is a small take-out place with a few stools, not a real sit-down place to eat.

                      1. I had the catfish Bahn Mi last weekend and it was EXCELLENT.

                        1. Sorry to say, A Chau's last day of business at that location was January 19:

                          http://www.eatingintranslation.com/20...

                          1. Ed Levine posted his review on Baoguette just last night -> http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/0...

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: kathyyl

                              I was there when Ed Levine was there a few Saturday afternoon's ago - -I knew he was "someone" I recognized but couldn't place - -now I do.

                              Srsly - the catfish bahn Mi was crazy good. At first the mustard seemed a little funky but it worked.

                              1. re: kathyyl

                                A sad thing happened to me on Monday evening. I walked by Baoguette at about 7:30 because I wanted to try the catfish banh mi. The lights were off. The gate was down. The sign in the window said "Sold Out Today. Sorry."

                                I hope the recent attention they're getting doesn't cause this to happen on a regular basis.

                                1. re: egit

                                  I tried for a banh mi myself that day, but the sign was already up when I visited not long after 5:00. Go early or go without.

                                  1. re: DaveCook

                                    How early do I have to show up? I went on Sunday afternoon at 2PM and the sign was already up. The weather was nice, so I thought they were feeding me a line so that they could spend the afternoon outdoors. And now that I've seen the sign, it only builds up the mystique in my mind.

                              2. I live down the street from Baoguette and they are alot busier then when the first opened. It's definitely no longer a secret.

                                1. I tried their BBQ Chicken sandwich which was a little too spicy for me despite ordering it not spicey. It had a small amount of shredded chicken and a bit too many strands of fresh mint with stems that kind of fell out when trying to take a first bite. The bread is very good, but it probably is Tom Cat as suggested above. It's not a typical Bahn Mi soft bread. and they've actually been running out of bread at the end of the day. The bread was the highlight for me, and the fillings kind of forgetful but not bad at all. Everything is priced about right, but I felt hungry after my bbq chicken sandwich and that's normally not the case after a good Vietnamese sandwich.

                                  Their Vietnamese Iced Coffee was really good. It was made with evaporated milk like what I associate as a thai iced coffee. There are cans of Cafe Du Monde, and Vietnamese brand in a red can that I guess they blend together. Very good.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    Evaporated Milk? I thought Vietnamese coffee should be done with condensed milk?

                                    1. re: kobetobiko

                                      They're the same thing unless sweetened, so you're right in this case it was probably sweetened.

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        The milk may be the same / similar, but a proper Vietnanese coffee must use condensed milk.

                                        1. re: kobetobiko

                                          Well I couldn't tell you if I was mistaken or they're not making a proper vietnamese coffee. It's an iced coffee for one thing, not slow drip so I wouldn't suggest it was proper, it just tasted good.

                                  2. I got the pork banh mi tonight and it was perfect. I brought home a sloppy bao for my BF, which was perfect for him. The bread was fresh and crisp, not at all stale. I got my sandwiches to go, but asked the cook to cut off a small piece of my pork banh mi so I could eat it immediately. How can you judge the bread after you've let it steam in its wrapper on your way home? Besides, the smell made me HUNGRY! Yes, it could have been spicier, but I'll just ask for more chilies next time.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: hungrycomposer

                                      Thats funny, I think I was right after you in line last night! I remember thinking that was a good idea having them cut a piece to have right there when doing take-out. Apparently the 'hounds are on the trail everywhere!

                                      Don't have anything particular to add to the thread other than that the sloppy bao has been great both times I've had it, the catfish was good the one time I had it, and am looking forward to the pork banh mi tonight.

                                      1. re: brettnyc

                                        That is funny! Truth is if I opened it up and took a bite I was in danger of devouring the whole thing. The bread was still good by the time I got home and ate it. I even had a little bit left over and it was still good hours later. But fresh was best...

                                    2. Had the normal banh mi for lunch today. Here's my breakdown:

                                      -The bread is, as many have said, excellent. Perfect crunch without being too hard to eat. By far the best bread on a banh mi I've had.
                                      -I've had much better filling, namely from Saigon Bakery. The meat in here didn't have enough of the highly flavorful, spiced, crispy bits I'm used to. It *was* meatier and porkier tasting, so if you'd rather your sandwich taste like a roast-pork sandwich, this would be a good spot. But it just didn't taste like banh mi to me.
                                      -It did have some peppers on it, which is good. I was concerned that it wouldnt, given some of the comments here. Don't know if this is a recent change or what.

                                      I'd give it a solid B--excellent bread, and the meaty flavor was nice, but it just didn't taste like banh mi.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: aravenel

                                        Wow, went back today and didn't taste like the same restaurant. I dont want to be too negative as I've come to really like this place, but it was solidly different(poorer) in both quality and composition this time. There was none of the ground meat at all, which was delicious before, the pate less flavorful/fresh, the roast pork less juicy, bread less fresh, etc..As I said on a different thread, the first one I had there was fantastic, and as good as any I've had at So 1--hoping this was a fluke day there as could happen anywhere. Rooting for it to be in form later this week for more deliciousness...

                                      2. I've had the $5 pork banh mi. Bread was really great. Fillings were good too. If you're not a pate fan, this one is probably not for you as you can really taste the pate in this one compared to others I've had in Chinatown. I'm glad that this one opened up closer to where I live.

                                        And I agree with those who say that the spicy really isn't very spicy.

                                        1. I've been to this place several times since it opened, and always end up removing jalapenos - the sandwiches I get are packed with them! So glad to have this in the sort of neighborhood! No more schlepping to Chinatown just for a sandwich!

                                          I always get the Baogette.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: evening

                                            I got the spicy catfish banh mi last night. It had some peppers in it, but it wasn't what I'd call crazy-spicy. It had a light burn, which was nice. Spiciness really is in the mouth of the beholder. What's too hot for you may be too mild for someone else, etc.

                                          2. this was suppose to be a V-Day weekend just touring the Big Apple.
                                            Now it's become a gastronomic tour de force.

                                            Added Baoguette to the list now. Thanks a lot guys!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: r0cc00

                                              there are so many better banh mi's in the city if you are doing a food tour. Go to Banh Mi Saigon or Vietnam Banh Mi So 1 in Chinatown, much better sandwiches and cheaper.

                                              1. re: ginsbera

                                                Oh - I know what a good Viet hoagie taste like so those places will be on my hit list.

                                                btw- I know this is NYC but do any of these places offer BOGO's?
                                                In the DC area -where I am from - there is buy 5 get 1 free @ some banh mi places..

                                                1. re: ginsbera

                                                  Yeah and I'm pretty sure these places cook their own pork ingredients as opposed to slicing a packaged meat product. I would presume the chicken, and beef are cooked in house, but the pork, and pate are not. They openly have the packaged product sitting out while they're preslicing like cold cuts. I'm no Banh Mi expert but the other places I've had cooked their own pork, and sliced it fresh.

                                                  1. re: ginsbera

                                                    Ok, so maybe you can help me find these places. I've eaten a Banh Mi Saigon a number of times (it's the one at the corner of Broome and Mott, right? Where is Vietnam Ban Mi So 1? Same place or different?

                                                    My problem with that place (the one on Broome, near Mott) is that the bread isn't fresh and the sandwiches are generally pre-made. They are great, but not as fresh as they could be, I don't think. But where's the other place?

                                                    1. re: adamclyde

                                                      saigon banh mi is the jewelry store place on mott, banh mi so no. 1 is the place on broome, next to a pizze place on the corner.

                                                2. The gothamist did a piece in their "Plated" series on the Sloppy Bao: http://gothamist.com/2009/02/12/plate... My Sloppy Bao definitely didn't look like that (I don't remember the red onions -- or is that a picked vegetable??) Either way, it was delicious!

                                                  The most interesting part of the article is that they explain how their bread always tastes fresh. "The bread is a par-bake product from Wenner; we bake it every 15 minutes. It’s really best available baguette for our sandwiches: even fresh bread from bakeries can sometimes be 10 hours old, stale, and not soft enough." -- Very interesting, I'm sure the hounds will have something to say about that one!

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: heWho

                                                    thanks for the link, really interesting. I think the biggest problem is the bread, so how strange they are so proud of it.

                                                    1. re: ginsbera

                                                      Death, taxes and complaining about bahn mi bread are the only 3 certainties in life ;)

                                                      1. re: ginsbera

                                                        I've been there three or four times, and the bread has always been exemplary. Maybe you were there on an off day? Have you been there a couple of times? Though maybe it's just a matter of preference.

                                                        1. re: egit

                                                          co-worker had it today, bread was still poor. Maybe it's personal taste (and that of my friends), but the bread is the only problem area for us. Fillings are always good (with the exception of the catfish).

                                                      2. re: heWho

                                                        Had the Sloppy Bao late yesterday afternoon. Thought the bread was excellent. From all the yes/no reports here on the bread, it seems you need to be lucky to get the good stuff. I liked the beef curry, but as others have said it was barely spicy at all. Mine had maybe one piece of pickled vegetable, no red onions, and plenty of cilantro. It was good, but I much prefer the ingredients in the pork banh mi from Saigon Bakery. Better combination of flavors, more fresh tasting ingredients, and certainly spicier--if you ask for it that way. Haven't tried A Chau Deli. Will have to add it to the list.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          Sadly, reports are that A Chau closed about a month ago...

                                                          1. re: adamclyde

                                                            Ooops. My loss. So is Saigon now back at the top of your list?

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              i don't know. If I can get good bread at baoguette, it's pretty darn close. But instead of the nice freshly baked, dark, crusty torpedo shaped baguette I like, last time I got an anemic pale hero-like roll. That's a deal breaker for me. I'm guessing it was just an anomaly for me...

                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                            I've had a number of sandwiches from Baoguette and have never once had bad bread. They have mentioned in a number of articles that they bake bread continuously throughout the day (from par-baked, frozen loaves). I think people will complain about the bread no matter what, and this is just one of those circumstances. Nothing beats a fresh, unfrozen loaf that comes right out of the oven, but it's extremely rare you ever get that in a bahn mi.

                                                        2. just went again today. Just a quick note. The bread I had there today is NOT the same bread I've had there on the past two occasions. While it was still fresh and hot, it wasn't that nice torpedo like, dark crusty bread. Instead it was a softer oval-ish almost hoagie like bread. Not nearly as good as my prior other occasions. I think this kind of explains differences in folks opinion on the bread. What I had today was fine, but nothing special. What I had in the past was the best bread I've had at a banh mi place in NYC.

                                                          What's the deal?

                                                            1. Not confirmed, but this would be good news for Baoguette fans ... http://eater.com/archives/2009/03/the...

                                                              -----
                                                              Baoguette
                                                              61 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: squid kun

                                                                Wow! I hope it's true! Just after we lost the banh mi on Momofuku's menu, we get a whole host of'em blocks away.

                                                              2. finally ate at the place (carryout/delivery) and, pretty damn good. a friend picked up some sandwiches so they were maybe 30 minutes out of the store by the time we ate them (got a little soppy but, that's ok).

                                                                + baoguette original
                                                                + catfish
                                                                + sloppy bao

                                                                I only had bites of the catfish and sloppy bao; the catfish was pretty good, strange but, tasty. quite strong flavors but, very good. the sloppy bao disappointed; nice flavor, strong lemongrass but, just not what I'm looking for when I'm thinking banh mi (I guess that's the point of these diff. menu selections).

                                                                the original was damn good! I mean, there was definitely lack of balance with heat and fresh herbs, but the roast pork was really good, quite fatty, not crispy the way I like it at any other place but, really tasted homemade and rustic; no pate presence but I didn't miss it; a lotta pickled veg. overall, doesn't beat saigon, ba xuyen or thanh da (my basic 3) but . . . there's definitely something nice with that roast pork. definitely the king of manhattan banh mi, let's put it that way. I'm not judging the bread since it was so long out the restaurant (had gotten a little wet) so, it's a non-issue that I would overlook, again because I found that roast pork to be tasty (different, yet tasty). bread had potential to be too dry and crumbly tho.

                                                                1. Went today and had a spicy catfish. All things were good, bread was soft but crispy on the outside, plenty of catfish and spice.

                                                                  They were baking the bread onsite so it's fresh when you get your order... not sure if this is a new thing since it was my first time there. If so, perhaps all the bread concerns are now answered?