Paris Sandwich's cold cut Bánh Mì from their Mott Street store leave something to be desired (they came in last in our New York Bánh Mì tasting, due mostly to a frighteningly green slice of ham), and what's worse, they let their pre-assembled sandwiches sit in a display window—then reheat them, vegetables and all, in a toaster before serving, rendering the little cilantro they have inside them limp, and throwing off the balance of the whole thing.
But working down the street from the store, and discovering their newer (and better) Grand Street location around the corner, I've learned a trick or two about how to order there in the past few weeks. First off, get the Grilled Pork ($4.75) instead of the cold cuts. It fares better under the heat of the toaster, and is not overly sweet like the ones at Bánh Mì Saigon down the street can be. Secondly, ask for extra cilantro, which gets applied to the sandwich after it comes out of the toaster. It's like a completely different restaurant when you taste this side-by-side with a cold cut bánh mì. Great bánh mì are all about contrast. Crisp crust against tender interior (Paris Sandwich's could be softer inside). Spicy peppers against cool, sweet pickled carrots and daikon. Hot grilled pork against the cool crunch of cucumbers and cilantro.
When you live or work in a neighborhood, you begin to learn the little tricks to make the most of it. Jot this one down in your Chinatown book.
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