I found V-Nam Cafe one day while searching for somewhere to eat that was 1) relatively close to Webster Hall (since I was planning on going to the Sam Smith concert right after dinner) and 2) CHEAP. After bouncing a few options back and forth with a friend, we settled on this place because a few websites named it as the “best banh mi” in Manhattan and the prices were excellent (aka below $10).
There was some construction on the street outside the restaurant when we went, and besides that it’s already a very nondescript place from the exterior, so it’s definitely not somewhere I would have just randomly walked into if I was hungry, but I’m glad Yelp did it justice!
The place is small, with just a couple tables and counter seating, and we were two of only three people eating inside surprisingly. While the menu has various traditional Vietnamese dishes, their specialty is banh mi, as mentioned before, which is a traditional Vietnamese pork sandwich with carrots, cilantro, and cucumber.
I ordered the banh mi (of course), which was only $6 hallelujah!, as well as an order of spring rolls. Vietnamese spring rolls are my favorite Asian “egg rolls,” because I think the kind of wrapper they use and how they fry it is just so mouthwatering. I love their crunch, and I could drink the fish sauce that comes with them for dipping. Well, maybe not DRINK, because that’s a little weird, but I definitely soak up as much as I can with each bite. The ones at V-Nam were no exception.
The sandwich was pretty big for its price and probably would’ve been enough for dinner if I had just ordered that. Each bite had a bit of the thick, bread; tasty pork; and fresh, crisp vegetables, creating a combination of different flavors and textures, which is what I think makes a good sandwich.
So don’t be afraid to check out this little hole-in-the-wall. The portion sizes and the price tag make it worth it.
Spring rolls and banh mi
20 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003