21 E 12th St
(between 5th Ave & University Pl)
New York, NY 10003
That thing up there looks like a banh mi, tastes kind of like a banh mi, but isn’t a banh mi. Banh Mis are Vietnamese sandwiches that I often get because they taste so damn good and are so damn cheap (see Banh Mi Saigon). Num Pang is a Cambodian sandwich shop that sells Cambodian sandwiches (duh), which include all the traditional banh mi ingredients such as cucumbers, pickled carrots, cilantro, and baguette. Cambodia and Vietnam are neighbors so it makes sense that there would be similar foods but what exactly is the difference? Both Num Pang and Banh Mi mean “bread” in their respective languages. I googled “Cambodian sandwich” and “Banh Mi vs. Cambodian Sandwich” and “Num Pang” and all the possible combinations in between and could not find anything to help me clearly draw the line between the two types of sandwiches. Other than the fact that Num Pang sandwiches ($8.00) are on average priced double what banh mis ($4.00) are normally priced at, I can’t seem to figure it out. Anyone able to help me differentiate?
Ah, whatever. Onto the food! Pictured here is the Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly sandwich. It is one of their “seasonal” specials so I suggest you go and grab one soon before they rotate to something else! If you like pork, especially tasty fatty pork, I can’t imagine you would feel anything else other than pure love for this sandwich. The pork belly was tender, juicy, and almost a little crispy on the edges from the glaze. Like all great pork dishes, it tasted slightly sweet. This flavor was heightened from the sweet and slightly tart slice of Asian pear that came with the sandwich. Yes, the sandwich is overall a bit small as the bread only measures about half a foot. Though you end up getting about half a foot of pork belly, making the bread to substance ratio 1:1. The bread is also from Parisi Bakery, meaning it was super high quality. It made that amazing crunch sound that good bread makes after each bite. Continue reading