March 12, 2013
One of my first posts for this blog was a review of banh mis from Baoguette. Since then I’ve been trying to find another server of quality banh and I’ve come up short every time. Little did I know that Boi Sandwich, the very definition of a hole in the wall, would be just what I was searching for.
HONEY GLAZED BEEF STEAK BANH MI
On my first visit I ordered a spicy shredded honey glazed beef steak banh mi with mayo, cucumber, cilantro, and daikon radish on a toasted baguette. I ordered it spicy and jalapeños were added. After my first bite I knew this was the bahn mi I’ve been missing out on. It’s compact,spicy, and flavorful. This compactness allows the flavor profile to remain consistent throughout the entire sandwich and it stays together for the duration of the meal, both of which are always a good thing for a sandwich. The sandwich’s spiciness is a wonderful addition to every bite, however, it’s a little too spicy if you eat an entire jalapeño in one bite. Just chug some milk and it’s easily dealt with.) This sandwich’sflavor comes from the well-balanced list of ingredients. There’s a perfect amount of every ingredient. It helps that the steak is perfectly seasoned and cooked. Don’t be alarmed (as I was) if you find a thick piece of fat in your sandwich. This fatty piece is included for added flavor and it’s your choice to eat it or toss it. I’m in the latter camp. The fatty piece isn’t in everysandwich, but you need to be prepared for it when it is.
BAHN MI “SAIGON”
On my second visit I opted for the more traditional banh mi “Saigon” featuring jamoon, VN Ham, BBQ pork, and pate on a baquette. I wasn’t as enamored with this sandwich because it’s all garnish. There looks to be only one slice of ham and one slice of pork, which means there aren’t enough slices of either. And if there’s one thing I want on a sandwich, it’s a lot of meat. The rest of the sandwich is all cucumber, cilantro, and radish which overpower every bite and they make you feel like you’re eating a salad. The only positive of this sandwich was the dressing. The menu doesn’t list what kind of mayo/dressing concoction is used, but it is a very tasty mix that goes well with the garnishes.
HOISIN & GARLIC SHRIMP
On a Lenten Friday I ordered the hoisin and garlic shrimp sandwich. I chose poorly. Not enough shrimp Way too much dressing. The less said about this sandwich the better.
As much as I like Boi, the sandwiches can be a little inconsistent. One day your sandwich will have a hearty amount of steak, and the next day, it will leave you wanting more. The fact that I didn’t like the Saigon or shrimp sandwich is actually a good thing, because it makes choosing my sandwich very easy.
The staff at Boi efficient and courteous, and they create affordable, quality bahn mis. However, a good source has informed me that these are overpriced, Americanized bahn mis. Odds are I’ll never make it over to Vietnam, so I’ll take the overpriced, Americanized version if it’s the only bahn mi I’m going to get.
Boi is a solid sandwich option in Midtown. However, the window to get a sandwich is limited because they’re only open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Boi Sandwich is located at 708 3rd Ave and they can be found online at http://boi-restaurant.com
January 16, 2013
I’ve fallen in love with the Classic Steak Sandwich from Aroma. (Yes, it’s a sandwich from an espresso bar, this is a no judgment zone.) It’s a small sandwich that packs an unexpected spicy, hot punch. In addition to steak, the sandwich features jalapeños, sautéed red peppers and red onions, swiss cheese, and mayonnaise. The spiciness comes from the peppers and jalapeños and they’re a great addition to this sandwich. With each bite the flavors mesh together and leaves a hot, spicy taste in your mouth because there is a perfect amount of every ingredient in every bite.
The bread is nice and thick and regardless of what kind of bread you get, the thickness allows the sandwich to stay together and retain all of its flavors. The only problem is the grease; there’s a lot of it. You’ll need a lot of napkins to keep your fingers clean before touching your keyboard if you’re eating at your desk.
The sandwich is pricey (~$11 after taxes) but well worth it. It’s something to get when you feel like splurging on a hot, filling sandwich.
Aroma is located at 205 E. 42nd St. and they can be found online at http://www.aroma.us/index.php and @aromaus.
The Fatty Snack Kiosk is a bit of an anomaly in Battery Park. It’s surrounded by hot dog vendors and guys selling “NYC” hats, hoodies, and t-shirts, yet it’s trying to sell these same tourists quality eats and sides to enjoy while having one of the best views in Manhattan. But if you’re buying a knock-off Yankees cap from a vendor in Battery Park, can you really tell the difference between a good and bad pulled pork sandwich? As a native New Yorker, I think that they do a little bit of both.
When I arrived at the Fatty Shack I opted for the Pulled Pork Sandwich, which features pork, BBQ sauce, and pickled slaw on a soft roll. As evidenced by the photo on the left, my sandwich had way too much cole slaw. (Actually, it looks more like a monster from the deep than a sandwich.) Now I like cole slaw as much as the next guy, but I like it more as a side. I certainly don’t like it as a topping that overtakes the entire flavor of the sandwich. And when I get a pulled pork sandwich I want to be able to taste the pork and the barbeque sauce, not the cabbage and the mayo. The abundance of cole slaw truly masks the flavor of the pork. Because of that, I did not enjoy the sandwich as much as I wanted to. The sandwich left me wanting more from the flavor of the pork and the BBQ sauce and less from the cole slaw.
As a side, I ordered the potato salad and I loved it. Rather than mix the potato salad with mayo, Fatty Cue uses mustard vinaigrette that gives the salad a zesty spiciness. For a side dish, it’s a large order that’s tasty and refreshing.
You have to admire Fatty ‘Cue for trying to bring a quality pulled pork sandwiches to the tourists that flood Battery Park. Sadly, I felt as if they did a poor job with the sandwich, but a great job with the side. I’d love to give this sandwich a second chance, but if I go back, I think I’ll opt for the beef brisket sandwich (and I’ll definitely get the potato salad).
Fatty Snack is located in Battery Park (http://fatty-snack.com/) and they can be found on Twitter @FattySnackNYC.
May 31, 2012
As a lover of tacos, burritos, fajitas, etc., one would think that I would‘ve had a torta by now. Sadly, I hadn’t. A few weeks ago I had my first torta and I have a new favorite kind of sandwich.
PATTY’S TACO TRUCK
The chicken torta from Patty’s Taco Truck features chicken, refried beans, mayonnaise, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, jalapeno, and avocado. All of these ingredients made it one of the biggest, heaviest sandwiches I’ve ever carried home. Because of this, I knew that this sandwich was going to be the real deal. When I unwrapped it I was taken aback by its size. Hands down this has to be one of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever had. Thankfully, it was also one of the tastiest. I’m a big advocate of taste consistency in my sandwiches, but this torta was different. In one bite you get a lot of spice from the jalapenos, but in the next bit you get a nice juiciness from the mayo and avocado. Every bite is a surprise. I enjoyed every aspect of this sandwich because it features everything I love about a sandwich. It’s huge and filling. For its size, it surprising maintains its integrity and you’re not picking up pieces off your plate. It’s spicy. It has a great flavor profile. It’s the kind of sandwich you want to order over and over and over again. Because I loved the chicken torta so much, I went back the following week and ordered the steak torta. It was just as awesome. It’s the same ingredients with steak instead of chicken and it’s just as good and awesome. You can’t go wrong ordering either. Patty’s Tortas are $9; that’s practically a bargain for a sandwich of this magnitude.
Patty’s Taco Truck usual parks on the Upper East Side as well as Union Square West between 14th and 15th Sts. Sadly, Patty has no online presence that I could find.
EL CARRITO ROJO TACO TRUCK
While walking back to my apartment a few weeks I stumbled on my second torta option. El Carrito Rojo Taco Truck. Knowing I needed, nay, wanted a second torta, I ordered the spicy steak torta. I was extremely disappointed when it was handed to me, mainly because it wasn’t the same size as Patty’s. Lesson: Not all tortas are made the same. When I got it home and bit into it, I was disappointed that it wasn’t as good as Patty’s and I was immediately angry with myself for straying from Patty’s. Although this torta was spicier, it seemed to be lacking everything else. There was a decent amount of meat on the torta, but the flavor profile was inconsistent and the sandwich became messier and messier, Patty’s set the standard pretty high, and El Carrito fell short, but not as short as Paquito’s.
El Carrito Rojo Taco Truck can be found parked on the corner of 19th St. and 6th Ave from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Other than other reviews of the food, I could not find their online presence.
My final torta came from Paquito’s, and it was the worst of the bunch. I chose the steak torta, which also featured onions, black beans, avocado, jalapeno, lettuce, and tomato. The ingredients were inconsistently placed on the sandwich, which lead to inconsistent tastes. The torta was so small it looked more like a Panini. All in all, it was just another messy sandwich whose ingredients kept falling out with every bite. Because it lost its structural integrity I found myself eating a torta salad rather than a sandwich. Based on what stayed on the bread, the sandwich became an inconsistent mess that was flavorless and pointless. Adding hot sauce didn’t even help make this torta taste better. This torta isn’t worth thinking about ordering.
Although Paquito’s has locations across Manhattan, this one is located at 175 Third Ave.
Patty’s Taco Truck is the clear winner here. If you’re on the Upper East Side or in Union Square, you can’t go wrong by ordering one of Patty’s tortas, you’ll love yourself for it.
The pulled pork sandwich at Blue Smoke at the new Shea Stadium (Editor’s Note: The author declines to use the actual name of the new stadium in any aspect of his life) fits somewhere in the middle of good and bad pulled pork. It’s bad in the sense that it’s catering to the casual pulled pork sandwich eater; the ones who are purchasing it at a baseball game for the novelty of it all. However, it’s also everything that’s right with pulled pork. The pork is tasty, tender, and juicy. You finish it and you want another one. The sesame bun is toasted, and all of the meat fits ever-so-nicely, you’re not picking any meat off the bottom of your basket. A few pickles are provided in order to give the sandwich some extra juiciness. There are many ways to look at this sandwich, but it is truly one of the best sandwiches I have ever had at a sporting event. When you get it, try and time it so you don’t miss out on too much of the game, considering that’s what you’ve paid to see.
Blue Smoke is located behind centerfield at the New Shea Stadium (123-01 Roosevelt Ave.) and Blue Smoke as a whole can be found on Twitter @BlueSmokeNYC.
March 15, 2012
Based on my number one fan’s recommendation, I branched out while in Maryland and went to South Street Steaks rather than Jerry’s. It was a wise choice (and she is a wise fan). South Street Steaks offers a wide array of cheesesteaks (11 different ones in total).
Being somewhat of a cheesesteak traditionalist, I went with the cheesesteak hoagie, featuring meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and mayo. The sandwich was tasty, but not mind-blowingly good. I enjoyed eating it, but I felt like it could be better. In comparison to Jerry’s, this is definitely a healthier sandwich because the sandwich is nowhere near as greasy. The meat was sliced, which was a nice change from the ground beef I’m used to having.
My only two complaints are about the mayo and the tomatoes. Mainly, I could have used more of both. The mayo was unevenly distributed because it was at the bottom of the sandwich and I rarely tasted it.
And the tomato? One slice of tomato cut in half and each half is then put on each side of the sandwich. What’s the point of putting tomato on the sandwich if it’s just going to fall off when you take the sandwich out of the wrapper?
South Street Steaks also offers hot dogs, wings, cold cut hoagies, and fries. Even if you don’t like hoagies, you’re bound to find something you like.
South Street Steaks has two locations in Maryland. I went to the one located at 12207 Darnestown Rd. in Gathersburg, MD (http://www.southstreetsteaks.com) and they can be found on Twitter @whizwit.
March 7, 2012
Hands down, roast beef is my all-time favorite sandwich meat (the redder the better). This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef is manna from heaven because it specializes in roast beef sandwiches. The menu has expanded since I first went there, and I’ve only focused on the roast beef portion.
This Little Piggy is quite small. You can eat there, but there’s only counter space for five, so I recommend getting it to go. There can be some confusion when you arrive because the space is tight and the chef is also the cashier, but it’s easily managed. Also, I’ve had the same sandwich maker every time, which has given all of my sandwiches a nice consistency.
The first sandwich I tried was This Way, which is similar to a Philly cheesesteak, however, there are no peppers and onions. Instead, the sandwich is flavored with au jus. There’s so much cheez whiz on the sandwich it looks like an explosion of wiz. But this is a good thing. The cheese to roast beef ratio is exceptional, which allows each bite of roast beef to be covered in whiz. My only complaint is I couldn’t really taste the au jus. Overall a decent sandwich, but nothing really stuck out to make me want to order another one.
That Way is my favorite sandwich on the menu. It features roast beef, mozzarella, and gravy on a hero. Although I don’t normally like my roast beef to be warm, this sandwich is fantastic. The roast beef was flavorful and cooked to perfection (it wasn’t bloody nor was it over-cooked). The mozzarella is extremely fresh and perfectly stretched across the entire sandwich. There isn’t an ounce of meat without any cheese on it. The gravy gives the sandwich an added juiciness. Traveling with the sandwich is no problem, it didn’t get soggy on the walk home. Each bite had the perfect amount of all three ingredients. I can see myself repeatedly going back for This Way. I highly recommend you try it.
THE OTHER THING
Recently added to the menu, “The Other Thing” is actually a pastrami sandwich. Since nothing can top Katz’s, and I’m not really a fan of pastrami to begin with, I skipped this one.
Although no longer on the menu, This Little Piggy used to carry the Something Else. It’s similar to the That Way, however, it’s got wiz, mozzarella, and French fries. French fries should not be on sandwiches and that was enough to stop me from trying this.
THE POPEYE WAY
Instead I chose the Popeye Way (roast beef, provolone, and spinach). I did not choose wisely. First, spinach does not belong on a sandwich because it gives the sandwich a horrific taste that can only be counteracted by removing the offending taste (i.e., the spinach). I picked off all of the spinach on the second half and that made it tolerable. Second, there just wasn’t enough cheese (especially when compared to the amount of cheese on the other sandwiches). After the cheese melted it disappeared, which made it look like there wasn’t any in the sandwich. I also couldn’t taste it, but that could have been an after effect of the spinach flavor in my mouth. Finally, it was way too greasy. If it’s greasy enough for Homer Simpson to eat, it’s too greasy for me. I don’t want to be wiping my hands on my napkin after each bite.
All of the sandwiches can be ordered on a hero or a roll. Always go for the hero. It’s more expensive but you’re getting your money’s worth because it’s a bigger sandwich with more of everything on it.
It’s simple really, if you love roast beef, you’ll love This Little Piggy.
This Little Piggy is located at 149 1st Ave. (www.thislittlepiggynyc.com/) and they can be found on Twitter @thislilpiggynyc
February 8, 2012
The pork bun at Kuma Inn was my introduction to steamed sandwiches, and it was love at first bite. From the bread to the meat to the sauce, this sandwich is perfect. (The pork bun features pulled pork topped with daikon and sliced scallions and a sauce of unknown ingredients.) Some complain that the pork buns are too much bun and not enough pork. I wholeheartedly disagree. I rarely had a bite that had more of one ingredient than another. All of the ingredients compliment one another to make every bite of the sandwich equally delicious. Although I’m not sure what the sauce is, it’s perfect for dipping, and it’s always best to get a little extra on the side. The pork buns come two to a plate, but you’ll easily find yourself salivating for a third (or fourth). Finally, it’s never on the menu, but it’s always on special, which means I have no idea how much it costs.
Kuma Inn is located at 113 Ludlow St., 2nd Floor (www.kumainn.com/) and can be found on Twitter @kumainn_uminom.
February 1, 2012
Although not a traditional sandwich shop, the Gramercy Meat Market makes one of the best roast beef sandwiches I’ve ever had. I kept my sandwich simple: roast beef, Swiss cheese, and mayo, and it was still huge. This sandwich was, hands down, the best roast beef sandwich I have ever had in my life.
The sandwich is created the old fashioned way, by hand. The butcher takes a slab of freshly cooked roast beef and slices it by hand with a large carving knife. I’m sure slicing five slabs of roast beef isn’t fun or easy, but I was entranced by this sandwich making. The roast beef looked like it was cooked medium well, it wasn’t so red that you thought the meat was still alive, but it was cooked well enough to retain al of its flavor, but there was still a nice amount of blood to keep the meat fresh and juicy. A little generic mayo was added to the ciabata bread and, after being amazed by its preparation, it was time to take the sandwich home.
The Swiss cheese was one of the sharpest Swiss cheeses I’ve ever had. It tasted like Swiss cheese is supposed to taste. It’s fresh, not overly processed, which gives it the sharpness most other Swiss cheeses are missing.
I couldn’t find a single flaw in this sandwich. All of the ingredients went well together. The roast beef was cooked perfectly. The Swiss was the best I’ve ever had.
The sandwich is extremely affordable ($7 after taxes) and extremely large (at least a foot long), you feel like you’re taking advantage of the Gramercy Meat Market by paying such a small price for such a great sandwich. There’s no way anyone could be disappointed in this sandwich.
Since it’s not a traditional sandwich shop, the Gramercy Meat Market isn’t always prepared to make this sandwich upon request. You can either take your chances by walking in and asking for it or you can call ahead to see if they’re making roast beef sandwiches on any given day. You get so excited walking there that when they don’t have it, disappointment quickly sets in. I’m calling ahead next time I’m craving it.
The Gramercy Meat Market is located at 383 B 2nd Avenue.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sadly, the last time I walked past the Gramercy Meat Market, the store wasn’t open and the windows were covered with paper on the inside. I don’t know if this means they’re renovating or they’ve gone out of business. I’m hoping for the former.
January 23, 2012
Since I began working in Midtown Manhattan I‘ve had a very hard time finding a quality sandwich shop. My co-workers recommended Subway, a recommendation I immediately dismissed. Ess-A-Bagel was a candidate, but I found that I didn’t like their meats or the fact that they only serve their sandwiches on bagels. And then I found Toasties. Although not the best sandwich shop I’ve ever been to, it’s not the worst (and there’s room for improvement).
On my first visit I decided on the Plata (grilled chicken, melted cheddar cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and romaine lettuce). I was excited about the pico and guac, sadly, these were the least taste-worthy aspects of the entire sandwich. If a small glob of guac hadn’t've hit my plate, I would’ve forgotten that it was there. As for the pico, I’d love to say something about it, but I couldn’t taste it at all. I was hoping it’d give the sandwich some kick, but there was no kick, there wasn’t even a love tap. The melted cheddar is a little overpowering and it quickly becomes the dominant flavor in the sandwich. Even with all of these flavors, the sandwich was quite bland because the grilled chicken is dry, and dry chicken is never good. If I ever order this again, I’d ask for extra guac and pico to see if they actually have a positive impact on the sandwich’s flavor, however, I can’t see myself giving it a second chance.
White Collar Philly
On my second visit I ordered the White Collar Philly (roast beef, melted mozzarella, grilled onions and roasted red peppers). This is yet another poorly made variation of a Philly Cheesesteak. Like chicken parm sandwiches, I cannot find a decent Philly Cheesesteak in Manhattan. The meat was the usual fried ground beef, but I never once tasted the onions or peppers. Come to think of it, I never even saw the onions.
Other places seem to have more meat than cheese on their Philly Cheesesteaks, but Toasties is different. They realize it’s a Philly cheesesteak not a Philly steakcheese, and there’s an abundance of cheese on the sandwich. This made the cheese the lone bright spot of this sandwich. This sandwich made me wonder if the Blue Collar Philly would be better, however, Toasties doesn’t make that so there’s no comparison to be made. Overall, it was a decent attempt at a Philly cheesesteak, but not one I’d be willing to order again.
My final sandwich was the Downtown (turkey and roast beef with Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion, horseradish and mayo). I believe that roast beef and turkey go well together and should be joined on more sandwiches. Although this was my favorite of the three sandwiches, I couldn’t taste either of the dressings, (I couldn’t even see them on the sandwich) but the meats saved this sandwich. There was more turkey than roast beef, and I was okay with that even though I usually like an even amount of each. The turkey and the roast beef worked well together (well enough for me not to notice that there was a lack of dressing).
Toasties is a little different from other sandwich shops, what with the house music blaring. It’s a little disorienting when you initially walk in and have to figure out what to do to get what you want (there are different lines for salads, soups, and sandwiches). But the system is easily navigated once you get yourself situated. The sandwich prices are higher than I’d like to pay (my average sandwich costs $10.07), but it’s either this or Subway (thus far), so I’ll stick with this.
The sandwich menu is quite diverse, and it’s this diversity that will make me go back and try more sandwiches until I find the one that’s right for me.
The Toasties I reviewed is located at 599 Lexington Ave. (www.toastiestogo.com) and they can be found on Twitter @toasties52.