All Banh Mi At Paris Sandwich Are Not Created Equal
There was a time when I used to confuse Parisi Bakery with Paris Sandwich, but that was before I had eaten at both of them and learned how laughable that was. One is a venerable Italian bakery and sandwich purveyor in Nolita where you’re served by men who are efficient yet polite, while the other is a duo of Vietnamese banh mi shops in Chinatown staffed by women who are rushed yet polite.
I’ve been to most of the banh mi sellers in Chinatown except Paris Sandwich so I decided to remedy that situation and stop in the other day. I went to both the location on Mott St. (btw. Canal & Hester) and one on Grand St. (btw. Elizabeth & Mott), and both sell sandwiches supposedly made with baguettes baked every hour plus a small roster of other Vietnamese dishes and appetizers. While pork chop over rice did sound good, I instead tried a couple of different sandwiches since I wasn’t that impressed with the first one I tried and was sure they could do better.
On my first visit I went with the Paris special ($4.50) which has bacon, pork roll and something called crunchy ham. This mostly just tasted like bacon to me and what I really wanted was full on pork flavor which was missing because the cold cuts got sidelined by the pickled vegetables. I guess I’m used to the “classic” banh mi at most shops that involves both salty crumbled pork and some slices of pate.
The next time I went, although I was intrigued by the buffalo chicken banh mi, instead I ordered the Vietnamese meatball variety ($4.50). When I opened this one up I was afraid I’d been given the wrong sandwich because by outward appearances there was no meat visible. It was only after I tore it in half that I saw there was indeed a row of small pink meatballs in here, again shoved to the side by the pickled daikon and carrot. If you don’t much like pickled vegetables, Paris Sandwich is probably not a good choice, but on the upside, there was hardly any cilantro.
I much preferred the Vietnamese meatball sandwich to the trio of cold cuts because there was more funky pork flavor happening, although I’m sure there was a whole lot of funk in that crunchy ham. If you’re in the area and in need of a banh mi, I’d say stick with Banh Mi Saigon a couple of blocks up. The sandwiches at Paris aren’t bad, but I think there are better varieties out there.
Paris Sandwich, 213 Grand St. (btw. Elizabeth & Mott), (212) 226-3828; 113 Mott St. (btw. Canal & Hester), (212) 226-7221