Monday, June 29, 2009
Baoguette meets Pho Sure
I (and the west village) had been feeling very left out from the banh mi craze that has been sweeping across much of New York. I kept reading about one opening after another of these trendy Vietnamese sandwich shops sprawling from the east village to midtown and even over to Brooklyn. I kept thinking that surely these tasty and affordable Vietnamese sandwiches would creep over to the west village, but it certainly did not happen right away. Well, I should never have doubted it's arrival. Not only did banh mi make its way west, but it did so with a companion. Baoguette's third location has paired up with Pho Sure, a pho shop. As if you didn't already know that I am a fan of this neighborhood, I really could not have dreamt up a better combo!
For those of you who are totally lost right now and are thinking that I'm speaking gibberish, banh mi and pho are Vietnamese specialties. For the sandwich lover, banh mi is a baguette traditionally served with thinly sliced pickled carrots and daikon, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and a form of roasted or grilled meat. For the soup fanatic, pho is a thinly sliced meat and noodle soup. It just so happens that I fall into both categories. At lunchtime, when most people are so often deciding between salad vs. sandwich or salad vs. soup, it's always soup vs. sandwich for me. And, as times are tough, this is often a dinnertime debate as well. While it took its precious time getting to me, Baoguette/Pho Sure certainly fits right in with the current state of our economy - especially when sticking to the basics.
If you are up for a tiny splurge, I really urge you to order the jicama rolls made with Chinese sausage, dry shrimp, basil, and peanut sauce. These are extremely light and fresh, yet much more tasty than the traditional summer roll (which I usually end up ordering in an attempt to be healthy, but quickly regret my decision after one bland bite). Thanks to jicama and Chinese sausage, two of my favorite ingredients, this was not the case. To also stray from the signature (or rather name dropping) dishes, the pork vermicelli is another great option. This cold noodle dish is served with lettuce, herbs, and peanuts. As with all their dishes, you can regulate the intensity of the heat by adding their red sauce to please your palate.
But, if you truly want to take advantage of reliable, affordable options, go straight for the banh mi and the pho. Both are great and for very different reasons. And, both are offered in traditional and non-traditional options. The banh mi can be ordered mild, medium, or spicy, whereas the pho, like the vermicelli, is self-adjusting. I loved the classic banh mi - pork terrine, pate, pulled pork and fresh herbs served with crunchy carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and jalapenos. Despite the high number of ingredients included, the sandwich was actually quite manageable - not the least bit overstuffed (one of my biggest complaints about store/restaurant made sandwiches). The pho was definitely a heartier size, although I still somehow managed to nearly clean my bowl. There is also the option of ordering additional soup ingredients which could quickly turn the meal into a feast (and no longer as affordable). I say stick to the basics and you will walk away pleased. And that's pho sure...
120 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10014
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):