21 E. 12th St. [12th btw 5th & University]
Also location by Grand Central
New York, NY
Should you try? Yes
Num Pang makes some really tasty Cambodian sandwiches. Their Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly (with pickled Asian pear; $7.75) might be the best tasting Southeast Asian sandwich I’ve ever had. The sandwich had rich and bold flavors resulting in a very tasty sandwich. I didn’t taste the pickled Asian pear, but the pork belly had a nice char and subtle smoky flavor and was quite meaty. Definitely try this sandwich.
The Coconut Tiger Shrimp (with toasted coconut flakes; $8) is solid, with the coconuts adding a nice sweetness. I would give it a try, although I felt they could have added more sauce or more of a dry rub to the shrimp.
Last time I went to Num Pang was well over a year ago, but the reason for making this recent trip was to try Mario Batali’s special Batali Pang (Italian cotecchino sausages, Cacio de Roma chesese ; $9.75) sandwich. Batali teamed up with Nam Pang to create this Italian/Cambodian fusion sandwich, with $6 of the sandwich’s cost going to charity. Although it’s a great idea, I think the sandwich itself fell short. The sausage itself had a fairly strong floral aromatic flavor and I barely tasted the cheese. I just don’t think the combination worked. The sandwich was only there for a limited time, so this review may be moot anyways.
All in all, give this place a try. It’s also a cool story about how it was started by two young guys trying to make it in the NYC restaurant business - http://www.numpangnyc.com/index.php/about
How much should you order? The sandwiches are on the smaller side for SE Asian sandwiches, but one full one should be enough for lunch, especially if you get something meaty and heavy like the pork belly. This past visit, I had 1½ sandwiches and was ready to hibernate afterwards.