Num Pang [21 E. 12th St. (bet. 5th Ave. and University Pl.), Menu]
Vietnam and the bahn mi better watch out because Cambodia is fighting back with Num Pang. The sandwiches may be smaller (and more expensive) than the bahn mi that I am used to, but they pack some serious flavor into that package. My choice for the evening was the Pulled Duroc Pork and I'm still trying to figure out why I didn't order a second one as soon as I finished the first. I can't wait to try the catfish (also on my list for next time is the corn). The ingredients are good (every sandwich comes with your choice of filling along with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili mayo), but what really makes the sandwich is the bread. Baked by Parisi Bakery, these six-inch rolls are heated and cooked to the perfect consistency: hard enough to provide resistance, but soft enough to bite right through. The combination of flavors in each bite is completely addictive.
As far as the facilities go, this is largely a takeout (and soon to be delivery) joint. You order downstairs and there are a few seats upstairs, but if you're with more than one or two people, you should definitely take it to Washington Square Park, Union Square, or your apartment...if it lasts that long.
I tried the catfish and it was just as delicious as the pork, if not more so. It featured a significant piece of fish, along with the same great bread and regular toppings that make Num Pang's sandwiches such a smashing success. I also had an ear of corn. It was well-grilled (good consistency, not too dried out) and well-flavored with the chili mayo and chili powder, but I wouldn't consider it an essential accompaniment to the sandwich. It is, however, a very good complementary dish.