How Do Num Pang's Noodles and Rice Measure Up to Their Sandwiches?
Num Pang opened their first sandwich shop on East 12th Street in 2008. What ensued is reminiscent of Field of Dreams, i.e. "If you build it, they will come." Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz expanded their business a couple years later, opening a location on East 41st Street. Last month, the beloved sandwich shop expanded again to Broadway between 25th and 26th Streets. Like its Grand Central counterpart, the new location offers rice and noodle dishes. None of them ring over $12.75 and they all make for a substantial lunch we'd be happy to eat again.
Seasonal Vegetarian ($8.75)
In late winter, acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, and carrots are the seasonal vegetables of choice. Each is roasted until tender but not falling apart, and if our carrots and squash were a little over-roasted into dryness, the accompanying chili mayo gives them all the brightness and moisture they need.
You can order either of the rice bowls with brown or Jasmine rice; chewy, nutty brown pairs well with these veggies.
Grilled Market Fish ($10.75)
Replace the acorn squash with a salmon filet and you have Num Pang's Market Fish with Rice Bowl. The snap from Brussels sprouts, carrots, and green beans contrasts the tender, lightly grilled salmon, and the chili mayo shows up again to lend its spicy kick. There's a good amount of food for the price tag, but if the meat and veggies don't fill you up, the clean, fluffy Jasmine rice will certainly do the trick.
Chilled rice vermicelli, romaine, soy sprouts, egg, cabbage, and herbs are the foundations for each of Num Pang's noodle dishes. The only thing that differentiates them is the protein. Each noodle bowl is also served with house dressing and crushed peanuts. The dressing is Num Pang's version of nuoc cham, the fish sauce-based condiment that shows up time and again in Vietnamese cooking. Num Pang's version has a sharp bite, with too much vinegar and not enough fish sauce and sugar, so add with caution.
Grilled Steak Noodle Bowl ($12.75)
On the Grilled Steak bowl, there's enough romaine to call it a steak salad, but there's no shortage of chilled rice vermicelli. Num Pang uses hanger steak with a heavy dusting of salt and coriander before it gets cooked. The meat is more tender and well prepared than your typical takeout steak salad.
Coconut Shrimp ($9.75)
Save a bit of the house dressing and dip each shrimp into it before you take a bite; the acidity cuts the richness from the coconut. With half a dozen shrimp, it's another gratuitous portion and costs only a buck or two more than most of the sandwiches.
Grilled Spicy Pork ($9.75)
For fans of heat, this one's for you. It's easily the spiciest of the new additions. Thinly sliced pork is marinated in cayenne, paprika, soy sauce and honey. The meat cooks quickly on a flattop, which caramelizes the sugars from the honey and leaves behind a flavorful, spicy glaze. Also available on top of a rice bowl.