Xie Xie Would Be Amazing With a Little Less Mayo
You know how much I love the Asian sandwiches (I can’t get enough!) so there was no question I was going to travel the extra avenue outside the Midtown Lunch boundaries to check out Xie Xie- the newly opened sandwich shop from Angelo Sosa (formerly a chef at Jean Georges.) You’ve already seen the menu, and heard the reports from the ML early adopters. But the question still remains… for Midtown Lunch’ing purposes, are these freakin’ sandwiches worth the $8+ price tag.
In short, yes…. if you love Asian sandwiches as much as I do. And provided that the chef makes one small change.
You shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that for the most part all the sandwich fillings at Xie Xie are delicious. The guy is a world class chef, and every component, on every sandwich was awesome- from protein, to topping, to sauce.
Fish Cha Ca La Vong – Onion Jam, Sriracha Mayonnaise, Dill – $8.75. I love tilapia, especially when it’s simmered in a coconut milk based curry- so I was all about this sandwich. It was not easy to eat, and a complete mess but I loved it. There was a bit too much of the mayo (a common theme, you’ll see) and also too much dill (even for somebody who likes dill like me), but the flavors blended really well together. (And the extra dill is easily removed.)
Vietnamese BBQ Beef – Basil Mayo, Carrot Kimchee – $9.00. Looks kind of like a hamburger at first, or maybe even a steak sandwich- until you take a bite and discover melt in your mouth tender stewed beef. There was a bit too much of the creamy pesto like may0, but the cool heat from the pickled carrots did a good job of cutting it. So good.
Shredded Braised Chicken – Smoked Egg Salad, Cilantro – $8.50. The biggest surprise of this sandwich was how good the chicken was. Made from dark meat (at least partially) the shredded chicken was really moist and flavorful, and the smokiness of the mayo filled egg salad added a nice contrast. As somebody who doesn’t love chicken salad, this is probably one of the best versions I’ve ever had (provided there was a tad bit less mayo.)
Sweet Glazed Pork – Chinese Bun, Sweet & Sour Condiment – $8.50. This was the only miss, not because it didn’t taste good (it did) but because it’s probably the worst value. I don’t mind paying $8+ for a nice size sandwich but this struck me as more like a fancy appetizer than a “sandwich.” The just sweet enough pulled pork was really tasty, and I don’t doubt that the ingredients are expensive, or that it’s a comparable price to other “fancy” pork buns around the city- but there is something about the three small buns that struck me as just not enough for the price. Also, be aware that if you order it to go, they give it to you like this:
Daisy May’s BBQ Cart style, with all the elements separate- so you can put it together once you get to where you’re going. That way the bread (or buns in this case) don’t get ruined. Even though I like this at Daisy May’s, something about it at Xie Xie bothered me. It’s probably the fact that you are supposed to be paying extra for this expertly crafted concoction. With Daisy May’s you’re just putting meat on a bun. But these have 4 different elements (meat, parsley, fleur de sel, and a sweet and sour sauce with shallots (?). If you’re going to get these, I’d recommend staying to eat it.
Finally, I couldn’t resist trying the “1000 Year Egg Ice Cream Sandwich”. I’ve never had 1000 year old eggs before, and I’m pretty sure they don’t go into this concoction as an ingredient. The name probably comes from the secret surprise in the middle of the ice cream:
A thick black pool of greenish caramel, oozing out from what I believe was caramel ice cream (although I couldn’t quite place the flavor.) Either way, it was delicious!
Didn’t try the lobster roll because its price tag ($14) takes it out of the Midtown Lunch price range (and I’m guessing it has too much mayo.)
If you are a chef stalker Sosa is there pretty much every day. He doesn’t usually make the sandwiches, but oversees the general operation. On my visit he even came up to the tables and asked us how the sandwiches were. I told a half truth, and replied “Awesome!” I just couldn’t bring myself to add the caveat: “Awesome… but can you tone down the mayo.” You probably wouldn’t expect that to come out of this fat guy’s mouth, but moderation is not always a bad thing. Especially when it comes to creamy condiments.
Since it’s a small menu, the place is going to be dependent on heavy volume. And if they plan on expanding, reducing the mayo will go a long way to make these sandwiches something that people could eat every day.
Is this for everybody? Of course not. If you complained that Baoguette was too expensive (at $7), these sandwiches will infuriate you. I found them to be a decent size (slightly larger than Union Square’s Num Pang, and maybe the same size or slightly smaller than the sandwiches at Baoguette), and when you consider the quality of the ingredients, and the skill needed to make fillings taste this good, and my inherent love of Asian sandwiches, I think the price is fair. But if you’re already against this trend, Xie Xie is probably not going to change your mind.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Deliciously crafted Asian sandwiches, made by a top class chef
- The individual ingredients are all super delicious
- I LOVE FANCY MAYO! (And lots of it…)
- I really like Baoguette, and Num Pang- this place is a great addition to Midtown West
THE – (What somebody who hates this place would say)
- Too much mayo!
- Every sandwich turns into a complete mess (partially because of the mayo issue)
- I will never pay that much money for a sandwich, I don’t care how good it is
- Sandwiches are too small
- There’s no vegetarian option
- I can’t wait for this trendy Asian sandwich thing to die…
Xie Xie, 645A 9th Ave. (btw. 45+46), 212-265-2975