Dang Bánh Mì
My wife and I hit Dang last Friday. First, a bit of background: I love the sandwiches at Baguette House, but she's pretty cool to the whole concept; conversely, she swears by the pho at Pho Hong (formerly Hoang), but I'm less of a soup fan, and prefer their bun. Dang at the very least has the advantage of offering both of our favorite Vietnamese dishes at the same place, although it falters a bit in other aspects. It's apparently a new venture by the Plucker's folks, who seem to know how to run a restaurant pretty well. The overall effect is that of a somewhat more mainstream-friendly establishment(streamlined menu, local accents at the counter, fountain drinks, larger portions), with slightly New-American-pandering versions of the same dishes elsewhere. My wife ordered the pho, which she found acceptable, although the broth falls short of her ideal, possibly due to an excess of lemongrass (?) flavor. The bánh mì was similarly slightly off of my own preferred style. First, it was quite large, which it kinda needed to be to merit the rather high price. The bread was less crusty than I'd like, with barely any of the characteristic rice flour crackle to the exterior. The flavor of the bread may have been quite good, but it got lost under the "Char Siu pork belly, pork tenderloin, ground pork, homemade pâté, mint, cilantro, green onion, cucumber, Char Siu sauce, saté, Japanese mayo, pickled papaya and carrots" and of course, as practically everything must be these days, "topped with a Fried Egg." Far more elaborate than the pate or meat plus crudite that I'm familiar with. Not that it was bad at all; on the contrary, the flavors melded pretty well, and it took a squirt of two of pepper sauce very nicely.
TL;DR: Different from other places but not bad, especially if you prefer Chipotle to Taco More, or just want bánh mì and pho in the same place.
I have a long blog post written (in my head) about this place. I do think the ingredients used, the meat in particular, are of higher quality than most of the cheaper banh mi places in this town. That justifies a bit of a markup, though perhaps not the markup they've actually tried to implement. I appreciate that they make their own sambal and their own pate, pickle their own veggies, etc. And I like it better than Elizabeth Street's banh mi, which is comparably priced.
I basically think of it as akin to Pei Wei. It has its place. It may not be MY place, but it does fill a niche that wasn't really filled here before. If they were close to my office down south where you can't find a banh mi within shouting distance, they'd be getting my business.