Bành Mí Zon (Classic - $6.50), 23 points
The Bread (10 points): The archetypical bành mí baguette: ultra-crisp and crackly with a blistered surface and soft, tender crumb.
The Filling (9 points): The freshest tasting fillings of the bunch: plenty of ham and headcheese with a bright tasting pâté and a handful of sweet and savory chicken floss. The mayo is fine, but not quite sweet or buttery enough.
The Vegetables (4 points): Carrots and daikon that stay crisp and a nice balance of cilantro and cucumber. My only complaint is a lack of heat on the hot version.
Bành Mí Zon: 443 East 6th Street, New York NY 10009 (map); 646-524-6384
Co Ba (Thit- $7) 20 points
The Bread (5 points): It's perfect—for a French baguette. For a bánh mì, on the other hand, it's far too tough and chewy. It's at least fresh and crisp, though.
The Filling (10 points): Incredibly flavorful and juicy grilled pork with a hit of sweetness and crisp, caramelized edges. We like the pork belly version almost better than the classic. No pâté here, but you don't miss it.
The Vegetables (5 points): Super fresh thick-cut carrots and daikon and plenty of cilantro and cucumber. Added bonus: they give you fresh sliced jalapeños on the side, if you like a bit of extra heat.
Saigon Vietnamese Sandwiches (House Special $4.25), 19 points
The Bread (7 points): Slightly underbaked, but crisp and tender nonetheless
The Filling (8 points): Abundant and tasty, the house special barbecued pork version is more flavorful than the pâté sandwich, which had not-flavorful enough cold cuts.
The Vegetables (4 points): Bright and fresh, with a strong white pepper flavor.
Saigon Vietnamese Sandwiches: 369 Broome Street, New York NY 10013 (map); 212-219-8341
Banh Mi Bai Cha (Classic, $5.95), 15 points
The Bread (6 points): Not first tier—the crust was a little lacking, like in a mediocre bagel. The crumb was the right fluffy, tender texture, though.
The Filling (6 points): Their pâté is nearly as good as Zon's, though their ham and other cold cuts were rubbery and lacked flavor. A bit mayo heavy—it squished out when we bit down.
The Vegetables (3 points): What is it with the fear of daikon? The carrots were also sliced far too thin—almost as if they were grated—robbing the sandwich of some necessary crunch.
Bành Mí Bai Cha: 710 9th Avenue, New York NY 10019 (map); 212-315-9667
Baoguette (Classic, $6), 12 points
The Bread (3 points): It's underbaked and chewy like a French baguette, which leads you to question whether there's rice flour in it at all.
The Filling (6 points): Not traditional by any means, but their pork is tasty nonetheless, particularly the sweet, lemongrass-scented grilled option. Sriracha-laced mayo makes the sandwich feel clumsy to me—it lacks the bright, balanced flavors of a traditional bành mí, instead going for brute force.
The Vegetables (3 points): The daikon and carrot slaw is fantastic, but I'd have preferred more cilantro and cucumbers sliced into wedges instead of thin, which lose their crunch, again disrupting the textural balance.
Nicky's (Classic - $5), 12 points
The Bread (6 points): Soft and tender, but more like a sub roll than anything. It's got a smooth, evenly browned crust that is not great at crisping up.
The Filling (4 points): Mayo-heavy, with really old tasting pâté. Honestly, I'd describe it as cat food-like in flavor (though I probably don't dislike cat food as much as the next person). The other cold cuts were decent.
The Vegetables (2 points): First question: where's my daikon? Carrots alone don't add enough complexity to the vegetable slaw, completely throwing the sandwich out of whack.
Nicky's: 150 East 2nd Street, New York NY 10009 (map); 212-388-1088
V-nam Café (Classic $5.25), 8 points
The Bread (3 points): Underbaked and doughy.
The Filling (3 points): Very odd barbecued pork with a texture that reminded me of raw meat. Tons of mayonnaise weigh the whole thing down. It's the only sandwich that tasted downright greasy.
The Vegetables (2 points): No daikon, and limp cucumbers sliced too thin.
V-nam Café: 20 1st Avenue, New York NY 10009 (map); 212-780-6020
Bành Mí (formerly Mangez Avec Moi; Traditional, $5.99), 7 points
The Bread (3 points): Flaky and chewy with a cornmeal crust, it would make an excellent sandwich under other circumstances. For a bành mí, however? It just ain't right.
The Filling (2 points): Scarily thick-sliced slabs of Viet bologna and steamed-tasting chunks of pork are generous but bland.
The Vegetables (2 points): No daikon, carrots that are barely pickled, and—this is weird—Romaine lettuce, and only a few leaves of cilantro robs the sandwich of any sort of Vietnamese inclination if might have had.
Bành Mí: 73 West Broadway, New York NY 10007 (map); 212-385-0008
Paris Sandwich (Special, $4,25), 7 points
The Bread (3 points): Baked in-house and crisped up to order, it still lacked any structure and flavor, tasting more like a cracker than anything else.
The Filling (1 point): The ham was a scary shade of green and the terrine had the dry look of cold cuts that had been sliced hours before.
The Vegetables (3 points): Daikon and carrots were good enough, if slightly mushy, but there was almost no cilantro on the sandwich, robbing it of a key flavor.
Paris Sandwich: 113 Mott Street, New York NY 10013 (map); 212-255-3271