[This thread was moved from the Manhattan board. --The Chowhound Team]
A few weeks ago I had my first Banh Mi ever at Ba Xuyen in Sunset Park and I fear this was a huge mistake because now my standards are too high! It was a roast pork banh mi, served on amazingly light hot crusty bread, dripping with melted butter and just enough pickled carrot and daikon strips, some sort of tangy sauce, cilantro, ground peanuts and slices of jalapeno pepper. This sandwich is one of the most delicious and perfectly balanced food items I have ever eaten and as soon as I had finished eating it I couldn't wait until my next visit when I would eat another. I even thought about ordering another one right that second but I was too full.
Since I am on Mott Street a lot more often than I am in Sunset Park, I thought I'd satisfy my newly acquired banh mi craving by trying one from Saigon Banh Mi, which I had read a lot of positive things about on the internet. Although it was yummy, it was simply not in the same league of perfection as Ba Xuyen. First off, it was not served on warm bread so there is no interplay of warm bread and cold veggies and this set the tone for a lack of complexity in the rest of the sandwich. There didn't seem to be any butter on it, and too much pickle overwhelmed the other ingredients. The sandwich was also too big and I thought the pork was overly dry and crumbly, reminding me of bacon bits, whereas Ba Xuyen's roast pork came in savory tender chunks. I also could not discern any crushed peanuts, which was the surprise ingredient that I felt put Ba Xuyen's product over the top.
I'm not saying it was a bad sandwich, just that it is not as good as Ba Xuyen in my opinion, and next time I will just jump on the D train and make sure I'm hungry enough to eat 2 banh mi at Ba Xuyen instead of 1 at Saigon.