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Mar 22, 2009 05:59 PM

An Choi - so so banh mi

So i stopped by an choi today, which is a new banh mi place in the LES on Orchard and Broome. It's a cool little place with exposed concrete and sort of dimly lit w/ candles (semi industrial looking interior). The people running the place were very nice.

From what i hear they went to vietnam and had some sort of revelation to open a banh mi and pho place. The menu is pretty short with 4 types of banh mi, 2 types of pho (beef and chicken) and some appetizers like cha gio (fried spring rolls)

I just got my food to go since I was alone and this place is close to my apt:
- banh mi thit nuong (grilled lemongrass pork sandwich): the baguette was mediocre, not fluffy enough and wasn't as crispy on the outside as it should be. The pork was a little too chewy and had some of "stops" in it (stuff that you can't really chew through). It was flavored decently. The other fillings (mayo, cucumber, peppers, pickled vegetables) were all fine and fresh

Overall, I was slightly disappointed as I wanted to like this place since the people were so nice and I think they seem to be making an effort to bring viet food to the mainstream (i think viet food is one of the best cuisines in the world when done right). Hopefully they can improve their sandwiches as I believe they seem to still be working on their recipes and they were so nice that i wish them success. I will be back to try their pho, but I'm not all that hopeful as pho is hard to get right. At the end of the day, I'd much rather go to saigon banh mi or banh mi so 1, which are considerably better

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  1. Have you ever been to Baoguette on Lex at 26th St. across from the Armory?

    My fav...Great service, delicious bread...$5
    Order it spicy

    1 Reply
    1. re: pbjluver

      no ive heard of it, but i havent been there

      what i heard from friends is that its good for the area, but the ctown places i mentioned above are better (those are my usual spots)

    2. I live in nearby and have been twice now. They're a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I ordered the crispy pork the first time, flavor was there, great bread skinnier than most, not like the thick bread at Bahn Mi So 1, so there is less white part and more crust. The crispy part of the pork was a little tough but good. I was hoping for a chicharone kind of crunch but was more like dried pork crunch. I also would have liked a little more spice. Overall a really good $8 sandwich.

      Definitely much better quality than what i've had in chinatown, and a small step up from Nicky's (not as close to me either). On the 2nd visit we tried The Cha Gio had a nice flavor of the crab with the pork, but the tiny basil served with it was very sad and wilted. I prefer a big fresh mint sprig with them like Cong Ly.

      I'm eager to try An Choi's Pho too. I think they can make it, yes the price is a little more than chinatown bahn-mi, but you get what you pay for and the quality shows.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bweb

        Do you go to Saigon Bakery?

        Nicky's isn't very good either although their thit nuong was better last time i had it there than An Choi...i dont care about the price really, but i didn't feel like i was paying up for higher quality ingredients than ctown by any means as the ctown places i go to are better (btw price has little to do with it, the best banh mi in little saigon in socal, where there is amazing viet food, are around $1.25 / sandwich)

        I am curious to see how an choi develops as it does seem like they are trying to perfect themselves

        1. re: Lau

          I've been to Saigon Bakery. I'm just not a big fan of the fatty fried pork niblets that both Saigon & Bahn Mi So serve. And the baguettes are also just way to thick, for me it's too much bread. I'm a fan of of the thinner baguette, not as round and a better crust:dough ratio, like a traditional french baguette. Plus, last time my sandwich from Saigon had been sitting out pre-made for a while, and I kept getting big fatty chunks of gristle in the meat.
          Nicky's, it's always hot and made to order. I have to say I like Nicky's over Saigon Bakery & Bahn Mi So. Not the crazy $4 deal, but size is good, meat tastes better, both pork chop or pate is good.

          On my list to try is Baoguette and Nha Toi

      2. Thanks for the report and saving me the trip. I think my favorite banh mi in Manhattan is Saigon. I find Banh Mi so 1 to be a bit skimpy with the fillings.

        If you're a fan of pate, then you'd probably like Baoguette. They're pretty generous with it. I know there has been some mixed reports about the bread. But when I had my banh mi there, I thought the bread was stellar. Still, I'd rather have Saigon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Needle

          agreed on saigon banh mi..thats my go to place

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. IMO the best banh mi is not mentioned here.... It's a brand new spot - just opened in Williamsburg. Nha Toi (160 Havemeyer St - between S2nd St & S3rd St). The owner is unbelievably nice and very passionate about his craft. Have only tried the chicken version (he makes about 6-8 different types - some more traditional and others more creative - all around 6 bucks). Having just returned from Vietnam in January I've gotten to know good banh mi lately and all I can say is this was the real deal - stellar sandwich.

            5 Replies
            1. re: skicrew

              well ba xuyen is supposed to be the best in nyc and that is in brooklyn...although truth be told i rarely to go brooklyn (my realm is manhattan and queens)

              1. re: Lau

                You should go Ba Xuyen. Wait until the weather warms up and make a day of it. The Sunset Park Chinatown is well worth seeing and when you go to Ba Xuyen you'll understand what the rest of us have been raving about for years.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  the only reason i haven't gone out there is b/c i go home to CA alot and little saigon is literally like 15 mins away from me, so i eat some of the best banh mi and viet food in the US all the time

                  but you're right i should stop being lazy and just go out there one day since ive never really eaten out there

                  1. re: Lau

                    Orange County has Banh Mi Che Cali.....great place all around Westminster. Otherwise for NYC I have been lately to Bep a pop up Vietnamese restaurant open only on Mondays. They have two very good Banh Mi both with Pork but the owner is going to serve soon some other otherwise Bep is serving the same bread as An Choi. He also serve also other dishes like Pho and bowl of bun. The Cha gio there are great!

                    1. re: F.N

                      yeah banh mi che cali is good (they've got like 3 branches btw), there are several other good places in OC as well

                      is bep in brooklyn?