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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches: Brooklyn

Nicky's is one of NYC's most popular Banh Mi destinations, which makes sense: family patriarch Nin Van Dang (who provides the recipes) used to run one of the Outer Borough's finest banh mi-arias, and his offsprings' East Village offshoot does brisk business.

Their arrival in Brooklyn was therefore met with great anticipation, a sense of hunger, hope and longing that only increased as permit issues pushed opening day back more than a month. Was the wait worth it? Inquiring minds want to know!

The Porkchop Express has been to Nicky's Brooklyn several times, to notably mixed results. Take, for example, their “Classic” ($3.95). The first one was satisfying, a fine replica of the sandwich we liked in the East Village: good bread, solid execution, nothing overwhelming. But round two? The Vietnamese equivalent of Montazuma's revenge: clammy, cold (chilled?) roast (?) pork (?!), and disconcertingly large rectangles of rubbery, fish-flavored pork roll. (I tried to feed these bologna logs to a couple of squirrels outside, but even they weren't biting.) Add seriously uneven jalepeno pepper placement, and what do you have? A big letdown.
What's best at Nicky's Brooklyn? The Pork Chop Sandwich...
...shown here from the perspective of a local Brooklyn rodent.

Far better, and far more consistent, is their Pork Chop Sandwich ($4.25). The tender, somewhat sweet grilled meat is well-paired with shredded carrots, cilantro and cuke spears; it's just moist enough, and not overwhelming in quantity. While the size and freshness of the strips has varied (from very thin/a little dry, to a juicy quarter-inch), if you happen to get a piping hot fattie your day is set.
Beverage Case: possessed by the ghost of Banh Mi past?

Especially when paired with one of their verbosely-named “Fresh Lemonade with Lime,” a nice sweet-tart medley that cleanses the palate and screams “limon.”
Ambience: The fancy red says “on the go,” but the faux-palm shoots show they haven't forgotten their roots!

I went by today and noticed the owner admiring his convertible Benz parked outside, leading me to believe that they have already sold a few sandwiches. Some of those returns obviously went into the schnazzy decor, a slightly-underground alcove of national flag reds and plastic palms that fits the neighborhood just fine.

But as you know, we really could care less about decor if the eats are great. So... why all the repeat visits for this less-than-thrilling product? I live nearby. And for my money, this is the best Banh Mi in downtown Brooklyn.

If you want something more and you're feeling adventurous, hop on the nearby 67 Bus to Sunset Park. But if you just need a quick fix, and live around the corner? Well... know when to compromise, gentle reader, and life will be richer!

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches (Brooklyn)
311 Atlantic Avenue
(718) 855-8838

Pork Chop Sandwich: $4.50
Classic Banh Mi: $3.95
Fresh Lemonade with Lime: $1.75

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Blogger annulla said...

I agree, the sandwiches aren't the best in town, but I do love Nicky's limey-lemonade.

11:17 PM  

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