Downtown Lunch: Long Lines Plague the New Banh Mi Cart
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)
After spotting the story on Cheap Ass Foods yesterday morning, Zachypoo emailed me frantically to check out the new banh mi cart on the corner of St. Johns and Water street. So I knew I had to scope out the situation ASAP. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who saw the post, because the line was really damn long! Fuggging BLOGS!! I wanted my banh mi NOW! But I had to wait… and wait I did.
Each sandwich is sloooooowly made to order, so if there’s a line prepare to wait. Part of me wants to think that they just need to work out the kinks, and they were just slammed yesterday because of the coverage on Midtown Lunch (wishful thinking on our part!), but according to a commenter yesterday, this is a common problem:
Only go if you have 30-40 minutes to devote to the effort. I was expecting 20 mins, but these guys really don’t have it down yet. He has to wash the pan between each type of meat he cooks, which means he has to turn the gas off and on every time he is done. They need another person in that truck to do prep/clean. I waited 15 minutes and had only gotten to the front of the line – people who were waiting for their sandwiches when I got there had still not received them.
It took about 20-25 minutes before I finally got my sandwich. The #1 is 5 bucks and comes on a baguette stuffed with cucumber, cilantro, hot sauce, and 3 kinds of pork (there was definitely pate, but I’m not sure what the other forms of the sweet swine were).
So… was it as good as the Chinatown ones? Well, it was similar but considering that the wait was almost half an hour, in that same amount of time you could walk to Sau Voi Corp on the corner of Lafayette and Walker street and get the same sandwich, for $3.75 (it takes 15 minutes, I timed it.) Also I think they slather some mayo on their version which makes it a bit yummier.
I’d personally save the $1.25 and walk off the calories, but if you don’t have the time- this cart will do in a pinch. They also offer a few nice sounding white-folk-options you won’t find in C-town, such as the grilled chicken with onions ($5). I’m tempted to try their pork roll and eggs baguette but for $6 I could almost get two in Chinatown.
And obviously if you’re willing to walk even farther, Banh Mi Saigon Bakery has the biggest contender for your dollar in the form of a two fister roasted pork sandwich (also only $3.75.) I guess the question is, how much is $1.25 worth to you?
Banh Mi Cart, Corner of John & Water
Photos and post by Daniel Kreiger