Fusion is a beautiful thing. There are few things that beat the pure, unadulterated joy of biting into something that’s not just delicious, but completely surprising. That is precisely how I felt when I bit into Num Pang Sandwich Shop‘s Ginger Barbecue Brisket Sandwich. The sandwich shop, located in a tiny storefront on E 12th St near Union Square, pays homage to traditional comfort food-y lunchtime sandwiches, but shakes things up with a vibrant Cambodian twist. Indicative of the exemplary quality of Num Pang is its astonishing 26 rating for food in the Zagat guide– the highest rating for a sandwich shop in all of New York City. Long had my friends been gushing about Num Pang sandwiches, and now I am mourning the amount of time it took for me to finally go there.
Aside from the unique Cambodian influence of the sandwiches, my favorite part about Num Pang is that it provides numerous less-than-$10 lunch options made out of the freshest local ingredients. These sandwiches are nothing short of gourmet, but their low prices allow them to be enjoyed by everybody. Renaissance sandwiches! Really though.
I will advocate fervently for the Ginger Barbecue Brisket Sandwich. At just $8.50, this luscious pile of tender, meaty deliciousness is a total steal. As if traditional brisket wasn’t amazing enough, Num Pang innovatively incorporates ginger into their barbecue sauce. The result is a totally surprising, tangy, and rich sauce that shines through in every bite of the perfectly marinated beef. But the fun doesn’t end there! Like every sandwich on the Num Pang menu, this one includes cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo. Another addition specific to this sandwich is pickled red cabbage; the pickled veggies on this sandwich especially lend an excellent crunch to every bite. The added spice of the chili mayo, along with the salty and slight sourness of the pickled veggies, complement the sweetness of the barbecue sauce. Topped with cilantro for a bold, refreshing kick and sandwiched between a freshly toasted semolina flour baguette, this is truly a world-class creation.
Whether you are a starving NYU student, a commuter passing through Union Square, or are a businessperson working near the Grand Central location, Num Pang will always provide you an interesting and scrumptious sandwich at an exceptionally reasonable price. Just remember to bring cash, and don’t try to make any substitutions on the sammies! PS, the grilled corn on the cob ($2.75) is pretty exquisite too!