Num Pang

July 20, 2011

Num Pang is the kind of sandwich shoppe that you can frequently walk past, never knowing it’s there. But once you find it and have a sandwich, you’ll forever remember where it is. And if it weren’t for Sara D., I’d still never know it was there.

FIVE-SPICE GLAZED PORK BELLY SANDWICH
To be honest, this sandwich was way out of my comfort zone. I’m used to sliced salty lunch meats, lobster rolls, sliced cheese, lettuce, tomato. I’m not used to pork belly, and boy have I been missing out.

The pork belly itself was tender and juicy, like a well-aged, and well-marinated, pork chop. It’s a thick hunk of unsliced bacon topped with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili mayo on a baguette. All of these ingredients work in unison to give the sandwich a taste and spiciness that is very similar to that of a banh mi. There was a perfect amount of pork belly in relation to the total sandwich size which meant the flavor in every bite was consistent, and consistency is key here. And right at the end of my first pork belly sandwich was a nice piece of fat that was too heavenly to describe.

As Sara perfectly put it “embrace all the awesomeness of a ‘fat’ sandwich and try not to think about the calories…”

SKIRT STEAK
Although not as filling as the pork belly, the skirt steak is just as tasty, possibly because it has the same toppings and chili mayo as the pork belly, but it also has crushed peppercorn and coriander seeds. Now, I like peppercorn on my steaks, so adding it to a steak sandwich makes a lot of sense to me.

The biggest flaw of this sandwich is it seems to be lacking in skirt steak. The latter third of my sandwich was all sauce, no steak. Mind you, the sauce is good, and the end of the sandwich was tasty with just the bread and the sauce, but a little more steak would have made the sandwich 10 times better.

 

SIDES
Thus far, the only side I’ve been able to try is the corn on the cob, and it was fantastic. It was a full piece of corn, not a half or a quarter, and it was dosed in chili mayo, coconut flakes, and chili powder. It’s a nice chunk of corn, but there’s an inconsistency to the flavor because the spices can be overwhelming in one bite and non-existent in the next.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Num Pang is cash only (don’t be like me and remember this when you get to the front of the line). The line looks longer than it is, especially during the summer, but the cashier is quick and the sandwich makers are even quicker. The sandwiches are quickly made because all of the sandwiches have the same toppings and there are no substitutions, alterations, or modifications (ie, no deletions), which means one man can constantly put all of the same toppings on the sandwiches while someone else places the meat.

Although it makes it a bit of an assembly line, the final product is well worth the wait.

Num Pang is located at 21 E. 12th St. (www.numpangnyc.com/) and they can be found on Twitter @NumPang