Earlier in the summer I gushed about the $3.50 pork banh mi sandwich I ate in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and lamented the lack of Vietnamese restaurants in Westchester. One of the perks of working in Manhattan now is the food options; the other day I read about Bôi to Go, a Vietnamese take-out spot just minutes from my office, and possibly the only restaurant in Midtown selling banh mi. I was intrigued.
Danielle works right around the corner from me, so I convinced her to take a lunch break (those crazy magazine publishers are always on deadline) and walk over to Bôi to Go to see what they’re all about. She was game, and off we went.
You’ll notice the big difference between the banh mi here and the ones in Chinatown…
Those are fair prices for Midtown, but they sort of contradict the whole mystique of a banh mi, which is partly that it’s so darn good, but also that it’s so darn cheap. Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and Danielle went with the bbq pork banh mi. (Not only her first banh mi, but her first taste of Vietnamese! Hopefully a fanatic was born.)
I had every intention of ordering a banh mi — hell, that was the whole reason for going. But then I paused — maybe I was worried that nothing could top the ridiculous “Mr. Lange” sandwich I’d eaten the day before, or perhaps I was flashing back to the Vietnamese noodle bowls I’d had in San Jose, but I called an audible and decided to go the noodle route instead.
Bôi to Go keeps things simple and makes ordering a snap: You choose a “preparation” (I went rice noodles), a “meat” (bbq pork all the way) and a “sauce” (red hot pepper sauce — bring the heat!). Then I threw in a spring roll for good measure. Very delicious actually — a big fat spring roll filled with chicken and vegetables and served with a hoisin dipping sauce.
The noodle bowl hit the spot. Everything was fresh and the bbq pork was lean and tasty (corn and lettuce were an odd addition though). The pork in San Jose was better — it was sliced thinner and had a stronger grilled flavor — but for Vietnamese “fast food” this was more than adequate.
Danielle enjoyed her banh mi too, although she said the toasted bread made it messy. Bôi to Go isn’t the best Vietnamese I’ve ever had, but it’s comforting to know that should a craving strike, it’s right around the corner.
(We also saw a sign that “Bôi Sandwich” is opening soon on 3rd Ave. between 44th and 45th. Hooray! That’s even closer!)
Bôi to Go
800 Second Ave. (at 43rd St.)
New York, NY 10017