For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for me to kick the inevitable bucket from heart disease... sorry. I'm still around. Just so busy with work and shiz that I haven't really been able to spew nonsense from the second butthole that is my mouth to your ears (and by extension, from my fingers to your eyes). Anyway, a couple of months ago... Tia, Danny, and myself convened at Num Pang, this tiny little Cambodian sandwich shop near Union square, for lunch. Sandwiches and pleasantries were had, but we also discussed a topic that most of you probably aren't aware of yet - a gross injustice in this world that's been overlooked and ignored - I'm talking about... dolphin rape. Imagine this: you're swimming so carefree in the sea, when suddenly... a biker gang rolls up... except, instead of badass bikers with crazy beards and names like "Moshpit" and "Bartholomew," you're accosted by dolphins. What do they want? Fuck if I know what their motives are, but instead of frolicking around like you always see in the movies, you're quickly whisked away to their secret underwater cave where you're emotionally and physically violated by something you always thought of as friends. Fuck you Flipper.
What in the shit does this have to do with Num Pang and Cambodian sandwiches? Well, not unlike the heinous crime that is... *dramatic pause*... dolphin rape, the fact that Cambodian sandwiches haven't been pimped harder, and have largely been kept a secret in the past, is a serious injustice. These combinations of bread, meat, and vegetables are synergistic boners for your tastebuds and deserve every bit as much praise as most assclown food bloggers nutted over banh mi a few years back. I mean, goddamn, just look at their menu. Five-spice glazed pork belly sandiwch? GG for everyone who loves pork.
Just look at that glaze. Dat glaze *bites lip*. At first, I kept thinking "fuck this, why am I paying close to $8 for this sandwich when I could easily get two of the aforementioned banh mi from Banh Mi Saigon...?" That was shortly before I bit into the magical creation you see above. Sometimes quality transcends cost (this is not a universal truth, just for things under $10), and in a case like the five-spice pork belly sandwich from Num Pang... it's definitely true. While I won't haul my ass downtown just to have one - ninja edit, yes I would - if I'm in the area? I'd be perfectly okay with spending $8 on this shit. Dope as hell. "Shut up about your thriftiness! Just tell us about this sandwich" you say? Prepare to cream your pants.
Built on a bready and crunchy baguette from Parisi Bakery, you get a thick slab of pork belly on top which is remarkably crunchy for something so high in fat content. On the outside of this bacon on steroids is a sweet and savory glaze that's built upon hoisin sauce and flavored with hints of five-spice. Then on top they lay the standard accouterments... cucumbers, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo, but wait... there's more! As a nice finishing touch, they stack on a sliver of Asian pear, which adds a nice crunch to the texture as well as a bit of sweet tartness that only something as healthy as a fruit could provide. Listen, I'm normally the first person to tell you why fruits and healthy things suck, but it works. It really works. Is Num Pang all that it's cracked up to be? I'm not sure, but the two sandwiches I had would make me feel that way. Also, while I'm still not entirely sure how to describe how Cambodian sandwiches are supposed to be different from banh mi (clearly I'm be the best person to be listening to on this subject) - the fact that banh mi got so much ass in the Summer of '09 and no one's globalized the term num pang is fucked up. Seriously. Do your part to correct this injustice and go have a Cambodian bacon sandwich yo.
tl;dr - be extra careful when swimming in the sea (or I guess freshwater rivers too, if you're in china) you never know when a gang of biker dolphins will arrive with plans to "show you a good time." Equally scary is the fact that a lot of people don't know how sick Num Pang's sandwiches are. Almost as sick as dolphin rape.
Num Pang Sandwich Shop
21 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003