For my second crack at banh mi, I tried a highly-touted takeout joint in Manhattan Chinatown known as A Chau Deli (82A Mulberry St., Manhattan–map). I popped into the narrow, counter-only establishment and was surprised that I was the only customer, save for a friend of the proprietor chatting in a foreign language. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I was hungry.
I ordered the #6, Banh Mi Dac Biet, because in addition to daikon, carrots, pickles, jalapenos, and cilantro, it has four different types of pig. These ingredients are wrapped up in a long, fresh baguette for a total cost of $3.75. For that price, A Chau is a great deal. But I have to say, given all those ingredients, they certainly found a way to make their sandwich thin.
The ratio and blend of the meats and pickled veggies was perfect and the sweet hot sauce gave it just the right kick. But the banh mi I fell in love with, at Brooklyn’s Ba Xuyen, is a real mouthful that makes A Chau’s entry look a bit anorexic. And because A Chau’s sandwich is so thin, the admittedly delicious bread covers up the taste of the goods inside.
If you can’t make it to Brooklyn, A Chau’s certainly worth stopping by. But if you’re a native or have some time, Brooklyn Chinatown is where you want to be.