Thursday 2 December 2010

New York - Cheap Eats: A tale of 3 sandwiches

Luke's Lobster roll

New York is hard to beat for breadth and depth of great quality food and exciting, buzzy places to eat it. Whether dining in 4 star extravagance at Per Se and Del Posto (reviews to follow), or roughing it with take away bites on the street, this is a city that knows how to eat.

TPG and I were back again this month for our annual eat up. So let me start with the simple stuff: 3 sandwiches of sorts that almost brought a tear to the eye.


1. Luke's Lobster - the lobster roll
(93 East 7th Street (at 1st Ave), East Village, New York;

The Taste of Maine

Ex-lobsterman, Luke Holden, sources his lobster fresh from his father's sustainable Maine seafood company.  If you're fed up with expensive lobster rolls drowning in mayo, this is the place for you. 

Each softly grilled hot dog bun contains big, juicy chunks of fresh lobster claw (there's 5 or 6 claws in each roll), lightly seasoned with celery salt, pepper and just the barest smattering of mayo. No more is necessary to let this lusciously sweet lobster meat sing. The joy will set you back a mere $16 (£10.20). For $20 (£12.80), we also tried the Taste of Maine - half a lobster roll, half a crab roll and half a shrimp roll (all fresh and delicious), a Maine Root soda, a pair of sweet Empress crab claws and a packet of Miss Vickie's crisps.

Luke's Lobster on Urbanspoon

2. Baohaus - steamed bun sandwiches 
(173 Rivington Street, Lower East Side, New York 10002,

Chairman Bao (pork belly) and fried chicken baos

Mini, soft steamed buns packed with pork belly, marinated beef or fried chicken and chopped spring onion, coriander and crushed peanuts. These Taiwanese gua bao are all sticky, gooey glory. They're small for around $3.50 - $4.50 each, but each are tiny, flavour packed taste sensations. My favourite was the Chairman Bao (with Berkshire pork belly, crushed peanut, coriander, Haus Relish and Taiwanese red sugar). Chef Eddie Huang calls himself a third generation baozi/mantou maker and puts his own spin on the red-cooked pork of his youth. Open 'til late.

Baohaus on Urbanspoon

3. Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich - banh mi
(369 Broome Street, Nolita, New York, 10013; - formerly Banh Mi So 1) 

Pork banh mi

Around $4 buys you a huge, crunchy, chewy baguette laden with pork, pate, Vietnamese pork sausage, coriander, pickled carrot and radish, cucumber and mayo. The flavours are fresh and zingy, the textures are moist, soft, crisp and crunchy in all the right places. As far as bahn mi goes, it's outstanding. It equals or tops TPG's former favourite, Nicky's Vietnamese sandwiches, and TPG reports it to be streets ahead of London's City Caphe (which I haven't tried). I went back twice in one day - the second time trying the chicken bahn mi which was also fantastic - just be wary of the garlicky marinade if you're on route to a hot date (thank God I had a row to myself on the plane home). If I lived nearby, the pork banh mi would be my new addiction.

Banh Mi So 1 on Urbanspoon

Just 3 more little reasons why I heart NY.

For my 2010 post about some fun places to eat in downtown New York, see hereMy earlier New York posts have links in the Gluttonous Travels section on the right hand side.


  1. Wow, glad to see you got some funky camera, the pictures are gorgeous and in keep with your writing!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  2. Really enjoyed this post. Look forward to more NYC posts

  3. I'm a sucker for bad puns and wordplay so hats off to Baohaus and its Chairman Bao!

    On the lobster rolls, I've never 'got' the concept. Why not just have the lobster without the roll? That said they are amply filled and reasonably priced.

    I'm looking forward to more NY posts!

  4. The London Foodie - You noticed! I have a new baby from New York -the camera!

    Nicole - Thanks! More to come soon...

    Mr Noodles - Yep, gotta love the pun. The bread does help for shovelling it in, if that helps explain! I think having something in sandwich form enhances the deal, but I feel the same way about cheese as you do about lobster - forget the bread and crackers and keep it pure!

  5. I heard about the lobster roll and the Baohaus and your photos and descriptions are just so delicious. Can't wait to get there in Feb for some awesome food!..I'll just have to brave the cold!

  6. OOOH! How lovely are these. I particularly covet the steamed buns.

  7. Oh my god that lobster roll looks amazing - on the list for sure for NYC!

  8. Kay - Thanks. New York is fantastic even when it's freezing! Plenty to eat to keep you warm.

    Niamh - Loved the steam buns. Such treats.

    Gourmet Chick - That NY list just keeps growing...

  9. (adopting Streisand-esque voice) "Meeeeemooorieeeeeeeeeees"
    Ahh such wonderful sandwiches. I have to say that the Baohaus freshly fried chicken steamed bun sandwich topped the lot. Do they deliver?? TPG

  10. GREAT photos... I love Luke's, but now I've definitely gotta try the other two! Thanks for sharing!

  11. LUKE'S LOBSTER ROLLS yeaaaah baby! They are so good aren't they? I need to get another one :)

  12. Anon - My glass just broke.

    Amuse Bouche - Thanks, do try! How good is Luke's!

    Catty - I saw you ate one today! Bring me one home!! PUHLEASE.


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