Serious Eats: New York
Cambodian Sandwich Shop Num Pang Now Open in Union Square
Today marks the opening of Num Pang, the Cambodian sandwich shop ("num pang" being the Cambodian name for "sandwich") by Union Square opened by the team behind Kampuchea Noodle Bar, Ratha Chau and Ben Daitz. Last night we checked out some of their offerings during their soft opening.
Sandwiches are modestly sized—they're built for one person—and are served with sliced cucumber, shredded pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili mayo on semolina bread from Parisi Bakery. Complimentary pickled cabbage mingling with tongue-searing chile peppers comes on the side. Don't make my mistake and eat this before you dig into your sandwich; your sense of taste will be large replaced by a tingling sensation. I do appreciate that there's no skimping on spiciness here though—there are even bottles of Sriracha available in case the chili mayo coupled with the spicy cabbage don't do it for you.
We tried the grilled, honey glazed Duroc pork sandwich ($6.75) and Hoisin veal meatballs sandwich ($6.75). Both sandwiches were tasty, although the thinly sliced pork fared better than the round, bulbous meatballs as far as structural integrity went (you have to use your hands to keep the meatballs within their wheaty confines). Being the pork lover I am, I would've liked a little more of it in the sandwich, but it was balanced enough. The tender meatballs made with Jasmine rice, basil, and stewed tomato provided a greater meatiness-to-bread ratio. Although I found the bread top-heavy—too much on top compared to the bottom—I liked its overall flavor and texture and that it was toasted just enough to crispify the thin outer crust and warm up the fluffy innards.
Freshly made drinks include iced tea and blood orange lemonade. Perhaps a blood orange Arnold Palmer is in the future?
The small dining space on the second floor overlooks the neighboring parking garage. Not much to look at, but then you should be focusing on your sandwich anyway.