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Banh Mi Saigon / Great NY Noodletown (Manhattan, NY) – Soft Shell Crab Banh Mi

August 24, 2012

Yeah, that’s right, read that title: It’s a SOFT SHELL CRAB BANH MI.

First off, why isn’t this amazingly ridiculous sandwich sold in its entirety already? Why did it take an article by Serious Eats New York for this creation to come to to light?! Seriously people, there’s a market for this sandwich! (Btw, just for clarification, when I say “market”, I mean me.)

…Okay, now that my quickie rant is over, honestly, this sandwich is not that hard to put together:

  1. Buy a deep fried soft shell crab.
  2. Buy a vegetable banh mi sandwich.
  3. ???
  4. PROFIT!!

Banh Mi Saigon

The bread had great texture – it had a nice crust on the outside but was still soft and fluffy on the inside. The vegetables were fresh – the cucumber was crispy and the pickled radishes and carrots were tangy. Lastly, when I asked for some spice, they delivered – halfway through, my lips were tingling from the sriracha and jalapenos. It had all the components of a great banh mi (minus the meat)…not sure if I can ask for anything more from a vegetarian sandwich!

Banh Mi Saigon Bakery
198 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 941-1541

Banh Mi Saigon Bakery on Urbanspoon
Great NY Noodletown

So, I have a secret. See that plastic takeout box above? The one with the crab? That’s actually not one soft shell crab. There are TWO in there.

See, I was in a good mood when the day I decided to recreate this sandwich. A really, really good mood. So when the lady at Great NY Noodletown asked me whether I wanted one soft shell crab or one order of soft shell crabs (1 order = 2 crabs), of course I said I wanted one full order. I mean, you can’t have too much of a good thing, right?! (In retrospect, this was not such a good idea, but I’ll get into the details later.)

Dredged in cornstarch and then deep-fried, these “salt-baked” crabs are absolutely delicious. I could have just taken a single bite straight out of the middle, through the crust and into the warm meaty body, and called it a day. However, I kept my eye on the prize and soldiered onward…

Great N.Y. Noodletown
28 1/2 Bowery, New York
Canal Street, NY 10013
(212) 349-0923

Great N.Y. Noodletown on Urbanspoon

(The finished product. An epic sandwich.)

There is no way to prepare for the awesomeness that occurs when the above components are eaten together. Yes, you can imagine tasting a soft shell crab banh mi in your head, but it’s not just the same in person. Upon that first bite, you get a little bit of everything…salt, pepper, vinegar…warm crab, cold pickles, soft bread…it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Which brings me back to the crab issue: DO NOT BUY TWO CRABS. Why? Because you cannot physically stuff an entire soft shell crab into half of a baguette without compromising the ratio of veggies to crab. Its little fried legs just will not fit, and you’ll find yourself biting into pure crab more often than not. (Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but you’re supposed to be eating a sandwich, not an actual crab. ) Additionally, most people can’t eat an entire banh mi sandwich and two soft shell crabs in one sitting. If you let those crabs sit out too long, they get soggy…and no one likes soggy crabs.

TL;DR: Only one crab per sandwich. It’s worth it.

Sushi Yasaka (Manhattan, NY) – Umi No Sachi at a Steal

August 22, 2012

Everyone has their go-to sushi restaurant – Sushi Yasaka is mine.

 (Btw, can someone please explain to me the difference between “umi no sachi” and “chirashi”?)

Every time I go, I always order the same thing: their umi no sachi, an overflowing bowl of sashimi over rice, for $26.  We’re talking well over a dozen pieces of fish, an assortment of egg and roe and, in most cases, a raw oyster on the side. (There’s a picture – count it yourself!) Most importantly though, every piece I’ve eaten here has been FRESH. There has never been a questionable piece; you know, the one that put in your mouth and then can’t help but wonder if you should swallow? Never. All I’ve ever tasted is clean, sweet, fresh fish.

Considering that’s the approximately the same price other sushi places charge for a mediocre chirashi bowl (and trust me, I’ve had more than my share of mediocre chirashi), Sushi Yasaka is a steal.

Sushi Yasaka
251 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023
(212) 496-8460

Sushi Yasaka on Urbanspoon

The Dutch (Manhattan, NY) – Oyster Sliders and Pie

August 13, 2012

Whenever people tell me about The Dutch, they always say the same two things:

You have to order the oyster sliders!

Get the pie!

Okay…So it looks like I’m having oyster sliders and pie for dinner.


The Dutch’s famous “little oyster sandwiches”: They may only be about a bite and a half a piece but they’re as good as people make them out to be. Why? The oysters. The oysters in those sliders may be the best fried oysters I’ve ever had. EVER. Not exaggerating. They’re enormously plump and juicy and only lightly breaded so you get that briny oyster flavor in each bite. I’m not as overly enthusiastic about the sandwich as a whole – I want to say there was something about the bun that was a little iffy for me – but those oysters…they just kill it.

Oyster sliders and pie does not equal a complete meal (however much I wish they would). Therefore, I would suggest ordering one of the pasta dishes as an entree to fill the void. They come in relatively large portions for a reasonable price and the menu includes enough variety that you can satisfy any craving, whether it be one for something vegetal and fresh (like the orecchiette with ramps, spring peas and pecorino) or something full of seafood  (like the black fettuccine, octopus, rock shrimp and calabrian chili).

Lastly, the mad raves about The Dutch’s pie are warranted; their pie is pretty damn good. The banana cream pie was almost perfect, with its fluffy pudding, chunks of bananas and a gingersnap crust. However, is it wrong that I liked the tart blood orange sorbet more so than the pie itself? (If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.) Either way, a slice of pie and a cup of coffee will end your meal on a golden note.

The Dutch
131 Sullivan St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 677-6200
Twitter: @thedutchNYC

The Dutch on Urbanspoon