I was just living my life one day, heading to pick up dinner at Boi to Go–a Vietnamese fast-food-type offshoot of the original Boi just a few blocks away from my boyfriend's apartment in Midtown–when I saw that the location had closed early. Horrified that I might have to dine on another slice of tasteless pizza, I read the sign more closely and found that an even newer Boi had opened on 3rd Ave. between 44th and 45th. It meant backtracking three whole blocks, but I decided to give it a go.
That was half a year ago, and I'm still loving it just as much as I did that first day. Everyone talks about the banh mi, but the best thing there is the lunch box. I get mine with pork, noodles, sesame-basil sauce, and all of the vegetables.
It's a massive pile of thin rice noodles, lightly coated in sauce and hidden beneath mounds of lettuce, corn, carrots, onions, basil, and your choice of protein. My favourites are the pork, which is marinated until it's the color of molasses and then cut into thick, chewy strips, and the chicken meatballs, which are juicy and meaty rather than bready and dry.
The bowl as a whole is basically impossible to eat. It's crammed so full of ingredients that you end up dumping half of it on the floor in your attempt to eat it, and it's clearly not meant to be finished in one sitting, but I always have to. I try to save my favourite ingredients to eat last and end up with a bowl full of pork bits with, like, one noodle to accompany them, but that's part of the charm.
Also part of the charm is the great service. When I go in after work to pick up a bowl for dinner, the woman working behind the counter always greets me with a smile and a hello, remembers what I like to order, and insists on stamping my buy-so-many-get-one-free card even when she has to wait ten minutes for me to dig it out of my cavernous bag.
I love that this place feels a little hipper and a little friendlier than most takeout joints in Midtown. The food is delicious, the value is excellent for the freshness and quantity of ingredients you get, and the service is attentive. The only bad thing about the place, really, is that the counter is a solid piece attached to the wall at both ends so that to get out from behind it, the poor workers have to crawl under it. Strange.
I haven't been able to find the Boi Sandwich menu online, so there's a scanned version here courtesy of my office copier: http://www.donuts4dinner.com/2009/10/....
708 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017