The crowds come for the banh mi, but my visits to Banh Mi Saigon on Grand Street are for the sweets. There are icy cups of sweet Grass Jelly Drinks ($2.50) in the summer, plastic cups pre-filled with slippery jelly, then topped with crushed ice and coconut milk upon order. In the winter, I pass on the drinks for the baked Banh Bo Nuong ($2.50), better known as Honeycomb Cake. A satisfyingly chewy cake, lightly sweet with coconut cream and tapioca starch as key ingredients; drops of pandan extract offer that gentle fragrant flavor (pandan is frequently called Vietnamese Vanilla) and a mellow shade of green. It's a large half-round for the price, and if you can't finish it all, the cake reheats well in the microwave—breakfast tomorrow?
Banh Mi Saigon
198 Grand Street, New York NY 10013 (map) 212-941-1541
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