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Entry from May 02, 2008
Bánh Mì (Vietnamese sandwich)

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich, served in a French baguette and often containing a pork filling. Pickled carrots, daikon, onions, cilantro, and mayonnaise are also usually included in the sandwich.
Vietnamese immigrants introduced the bánh mì to the United States, and it became popular in California in the 1980s. Bánh mì bagan to appear in New York City (especially the Chinatown-Lower East Side area of Manhattan) by the early 1990s.
Wikipedia: Bánh mì
Bánh mì or bánh mỳ (pronounced /ˈbʌn mi/ in English and IPA: [ʔɓɐ̌ːɲ mì]] in Vietnamese) is a Vietnamese baguette made with wheat and rice flour or a type of sandwich traditionally made with this type of baguette. The sandwich is made up of thinly sliced pickled carrots, daikon, onions, cilantro, and meat or tofu. Popular bánh mì fillings include pork, paté, chicken, and head cheese. The contrasting flavors and textures of the sandwich — as well as its relatively low cost — make it a popular dish.
The genesis of the bánh mì sandwich stems from the French countryside “salad sandwich” which consists of lettuces, tomatoes and sometimes vegetables as well as dressing served on a baguette. The sandwich is a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining the French ingredients of baguettes, pate and mayonnaise with native Vietnamese ingredients like coriander, hot peppers, fish sauce and pickled carrots. The ingredients in a Vietnamese sandwich vary most notably in their meat selections. The most common varieties are bánh mì gà made with chicken, bánh mì trứng with scrambled egg, bánh mì bì made with shredded pork skin and roasted rice powder, bánh mì thịt nướng made with grilled pork, bánh mì xíu mại made with juicy crushed pork meatballs, with the most popular

or “special combo” which comprises all the ingredients. Also occasionally available is bánh mì chay, a vegetarian option, usually made with tofu or textured vegetable protein. The most common variety is made with various Vietnamese coldcuts made of pork, along with pickled carrots and radishes. Chili peppers and pate are often added as well. Another popular option is the breakfast Banh Mi, either with fried scrambled eggs served in a baguette, or the more popular version eaten widely for breakfast in Vietnam: Eggs fried sunny-side-up with onions, sprinkled with Soy sauce or Maggi sauce, and eaten with a fresh (and sometimes buttered) baguette. Most Banh Mi sandwiches contain a Vietnamese mayonnaise-like spread that is actually a mixture of egg yolks and cooking oil and/or butter with optional spices added.

Bánh mì is generally served in small shops and at some phở noodle eateries. Bánh mì shops can be found in many countries, especially in areas with a Vietnamese immigrant community. In the United States, the typical Vietnamese sandwich is known as the bán mì Sài Gòn and it is usually made with broiled pork and goose liver pate.
Food Network
Vietnamese-Style Sandwich: Banh Mi
Recipe courtesy Anthony Nguyen, Saigon Banh Mi So # 1, NYC
Show:  Sara’s Secrets
Episode:  International Sandwiches
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup julienned carrot
1/2 cup julienned daikon radish
Kosher salt
Seasoned Pork:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
6 ounces ground pork
1 tablespoon roast pork seasoning mix, available in Asian markets
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch ground black pepper
4 (10-inch) baguettes
Mayonnaise, as needed
8 thin slices Vietnamese-style pork roll (cha lua), or bologna
8 slices Vietnamese-style salami, or ham or turkey
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
1/4 medium English cucumber, cut lengthwise into 4 slices
Freshly ground black pepper
Asian-style chili oil, to taste, optional
Make the slaw: In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Transfer the vinegar mixture to a bowl and cool. Add the carrot and daikon, mix well, and season with salt. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes or store in the refrigerator up to overnight.
Meanwhile, make the seasoned pork: Heat the oil in small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft. Add the pork, seasoning, garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring, until just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the heat and set aside covered with foil to keep warm.
Make the sandwiches: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the baguettes open lengthwise, and slather the insides with mayonnaise. Arrange the baguettes on a baking sheet and bake until hot and crusty about 5 minutes. Remove the baguettes from the oven and immediately fill each with some of the seasoned pork. In each sandwich, arrange 2 slices each of the pork roll and salami, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon cilantro, 1 slice cucumber, ground pepper, and chili oil, if using. Serve immediately.
16 July 1969, Canandaigua (NY) Daily Messenger, “American Girl Gives Description of Life in a Vietnam Village,” pg. 13, col. 1:
The morning in Vietnam is the best part of the day. I used to be awakened by the small bread-boy who passed our house every morning, singing “Banh mi, banh mi o day.” His familiar song translates into a non-tonal language as the simple statement: “bread, bread here.”
31 May 1987, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Exotica on Rye” by Linda Burum, Calendar section, pg. 95:
My choice was Banh mi dia—a marvelous sandwich plate of assorted Vietnamese-style cold cuts and pate with two sunny-side-up eggs in the center.
16 April 1989, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “The Specialists: A grazer’s guide to Vietnamese food” by Linda Burum, Calendar section, pg. 95:
You can find banh mi signs all over Orange County’s Little Saigon and downtown Los Angeles’ Chinatown, in delis such as Garden Grove’s Saigon Sandwiches.
New York (NY) Times
Sampling the Flavors of Southeast Asia
Published: August 16, 1992
SAN FRANCISCO’s reputation as one of the most Asian of American cities goes back to the middle of the 19th century, when the first Chinese immigrants arrived after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill.
Near the corner of Eddy and Larkin, at 560 Larkin Street, is a tiny closet of a shop called Sai-gon Vietnamese Sandwiches, (415) 474-5698, where for $2 you can buy a delicious barbecued chicken sandwich, freshly made (the counter clerk slices the chicken before your eyes) on a crisp baguette roll with coriander, mint and strips of lightly pickled vegetables. The same carefully prepared combination, but with spicy, peppery, pork meat balls replacing the chicken, costs $1.50. This is fine picnic fare, to which you can add a couple of banana leaf-wrapped packets of savory minced pork mixed with sticky rice.
New York (NY) Times
Published: January 7, 1996
At Givral’s Sandwich Shop, 2704 Milam, (713) 529-0462, the banh mi thit, or “bread meat” Vietnamese sandwiches, are out of this world. They are served on a warm French roll with choice of shredded chicken or pork, crisp cucumber and carrot, and Vietnamese spices, and cost $1.50 to $2 apiece.
New York (NY) Daily News 
By DANIEL YOUNG Daily News Restaurant Critic
Wednesday, September 25th 1996, 2:00AM
AS SOUTHEAST Asian and Eurasian flavors heat up the food fashion pages, this would seem an opportune moment to introduce New Yorkers to an accessible French-Vietnamese design known as banh mi. The only snag is that a four-color spread of Ho Chi Minh City’s favorite fast lunch food appears no more exotic to American eyes than an Oscar Mayer cold-cut hero.
“It’s too common for them,” says Billy Chau, whose family serves those Vietnamese French-bread sandwiches at its Chinatown restaurant, Pho Viet Huong, but not at its Upper East Side eatery, Miss Saigon.
“They think it’s a cold-cut sandwich and don’t want to order it. When they taste it, they know the difference.”
He’s right. There is perhaps no simpler, quicker or cheaper ($2.25-$2.50) way to sample together the salty, sour, sweet and spicy flavors of Vietnamese food than with a banh mi sandwich assembled on a crusty French baguette or hero roll. Almost all varieties are accessorized with carrots pickled in sweetened vinegar, cucumber and coriander (cilantro).
Many are also garnished with pickled radish, mayonnaise, soy sauce, salt, pepper, fish sauce and either hot chili sauce, paste or peppers.
Hero-ic measures
The standard and by far most popular sandwich assembly, banh mi thit nguoi, contains thin slices of pork (roast, smoked or pressed) and turkey, chicken or pork roll and a layer of pork liver pate.
Homemade Vietnamese-style roast pork or smoked ham is enhanced; salty packaged ham and baloney-style rolled meats disappear between the bread. “We put cilantro on to highlight the meat, not hide it,” explains Howard Khuu, the manager at his mother’s Chinatown restaurant, Saigon House.

“Sandwiches with ham, salami and American cheese are salty, salty and salty. After a few bites, it’s boring. I could never get sick of a Vietnamese sandwich.”

That’s an opinion shared by thousands of Vietnamese who buy banh mi for breakfast, lunch or both from street vendors and food markets scattered throughout Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The sandwiches are a byproduct of the French colonial empire in Indochina, fusing baguettes, pate and mayonnaise from France with indigenous coriander, hot chili pepper, salty fish sauce and pickled carrots.

The banh mi tradition followed the French back to Paris, settling into tiny sandwich shops and modest eateries centered on the Vietnamese/Chinese enclave in the neighborhood of Belleville. A similar scene is now developing in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Saturdays on Mulberry St. and Sundays on Grand St., Vietnamese from the tri-state area can be identified by the cup of sweet iced coffee in their right hand and the banh mi in their left.
Banh Mi Thit Nguoi
Makes 8 sandwiches
1/2cup white vinegar
1/2cup water
2tablespoons sugar
1/2teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1/2teaspoon chili paste (optional)
1/2pound carrots, shredded
4baguettes (or 8 hero rolls)
1/2pound roast pork or ham
1/2pound turkey roll (substitute chicken roll)
1cucumber, quartered lengthwise as for a crudite
1bunch coriander, chopped
3tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4pound pork liver pate
Hot chili sauce to taste
Hot chili peppers (optional)
Mix vinegar with water, sugar and, if desired, fish sauce and chili paste. Marinate carrots in this mixture in refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Halve the baguettes, slice open and top each with a thin slice of roast pork and turkey roll. Top with carrots, cucumber and coriander. Spread mayonnaise and pate over bread. Add chili sauce or peppers to taste.
Here’s where to sample Vietnamese sandwiches:
Banh Mi So 1 Coffee Shop
85 Bowery, near Canal St.
Pho Viet Huong
73 Mulberry St., near Baxter St.
Banh Mi Saigon
89 Bayard St., at Mulberry St.
Sau Voi
101 Lafayette St., near Walker St.
New York (NY) Times
TO GO; From Memphis to Vietnam
Published: March 10, 1999
The Vietnamese are master sandwich makers, a legacy of their time under the French, when they were introduced to, among other things, French bread and fine coffee. You ordinarily won’t find Vietnamese sandwiches, or banh mi, in restaurants, though. They are considered street food, great for a quick snack or lunch, and to find them you actually have to take to the streets around Chinatown.
SAIGON BANH MI is a tiny storefront at the 88 East Broadway Mall, practically underneath the Manhattan Bridge, a grouping of food shops, ginseng parlors and video stores that culminates in the Triple Eight Palace, a huge dim sum restaurant upstairs. If you can squeeze into Saigon, place your order and watch as the counterman slices open a crusty French roll and fills it with barbecued pork that has a deep, dark, intense flavor that comes from fermented fish sauce. He then adds thin slices of a pale seafood sausage and finishes with fresh cucumber, marinated carrots, cilantro and, if you wish, hot sauce. It costs $3.25 and is a fine combination of savory and cool. To wash it down, you can sample exotic beverages like pennywort drink, a cabbage-green liquid that I won’t be trying again soon.
Another option for bahn mi is BA LE DELI, within a little variety store named Khai Tri, on the northeast corner of Canal Street and the Bowery. You can get excellent banh mi ($2.50), filled with chicken as well as pork. I didn’t see any pennywort drink—just clothes, beepers and karaoke equipment.
Saigon Banh Mi, 88 East Broadway, Unit 108; (212) 941-1541. No delivery.
New York (NY) Times
FOOD STUFF; A Line Forms on Second For a Vietnamese Treat
Published: October 6, 2004
Billy Dang, an owner of Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches at 150 East Second Street, said his family was surprised by the rush of business from the moment the tiny storefront opened. His sister and brother-in-law, Theresa and Stanley Ng, are his partners, and the place is named for their son.
The attention is deserved because the sandwiches, called banh mi, start with excellent crisp baguettes from the same Brooklyn bakery that supplies An Dong, the banh mi spot in Sunset Park that is owned by Mr. Dang’s father. The sandwiches can be layered with the typical combination of pâté, chopped pork, pickles, carrots and chilies, or with other fillings, including fried boneless pork chop, chicken, portobello mushrooms and sardines. Most are $3.95.
New York (NY) Times
Lo, a New Age of Heroes
Published: December 1, 2004
PERHAPS the ultimate cross-cultural hot hero is the sandwich that has become known as a banh mi. In “Authentic Vietnamese Cooking,” Corinne Trang translates banh mi as a Saigon baguette. She writes that the Vietnamese “took this quintessential Gallic invention and made it their own by substituting rice flour for half of the wheat flour.”
In this country banh mi are made with an Italian hero roll or a French-style baguette. In Vietnam, said Michael Huynh (his nickname is Bao), the chef and an owner of Bao Noodle, at Second Avenue and 22nd Street, the classic banh mi filling is a combination of pork roll (essentially Vietnamese bologna), pork pâté, daikon and carrots pickled in vinegar and sugar, fresh coriander and mayonnaise. The sandwich is usually toasted, mayonnaise included, before the cool pickles and coriander are added.
Here Mr. Huynh uses a French baguette made by the Parisi Bakery in Little Italy, which incidentally makes an estimable meatball parmigiana from noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays. He fills the baguette with grilled chicken thighs, pieces of pork chop or shrimp marinated in fish sauce and lemon grass; pickled vegetables; and fresh coriander. He uses a Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie, slightly sweeter than Hellmann’s. The result is a sandwich that is perfectly balanced, simultaneously hot and cold, sweet and savory, crispy and tender.
Banh mi were introduced in this country more than a decade ago in Chinatown shops in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, home to recent Vietnamese émigrés, banh mi are sold in storefronts. Nin Van Dang opened An Dong, his banh mi shop there, in 1996. He has retired and closed the shop, but the next generation of banh mi makers is on the scene. His daughter Teresa and her husband, Stanley Ng, along with her brother Billy, have opened Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches (named for the Ngs’ son, Nicky) in the East Village. The Ngs have added a portobello mushroom banh mi, because customers kept clamoring for a vegetarian version.
Banh mi shops have popped up in Chinatown in Manhattan at Sau Voi Corporation, 101-105 Lafayette Street (Walker Street), where you can also buy the latest Vietnamese hit movies and CD’s, and in Brooklyn, where I had a killer meatball banh mi at Ba Xuyen in Sunset Park.
New York (NY) Times
FOOD STUFF; A Chinatown Banh Mi Shop Breaks Out of the Mold
Published: January 24, 2007
Shops selling banh mi, the hearty Vietnamese sandwiches that involve various meats, vegetables and pickles layered on crisp baguettes, are usually small mom-and-pop affairs. A slicker, more spacious version, Paris Sandwich, opened a few weeks ago in Chinatown. It serves a dozen kinds of banh mi ($3.25 to $3.50), summer rolls ($3) and some rice and noodle dishes with chicken or pork ($4.25 to $5). The baguettes, which are also sold plain or buttered, are baked on the premises, and the banh mi, especially the somewhat sloppy Vietnamese meatball version, make a satisfying lunch: 113 Mott Street (Canal Street), (212) 226-7221.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, May 02, 2008 • Permalink

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