Best Banh & More…NYC Restaurant Review

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I had not stirred things up in over a month in New York City so it was disembark and quickly hit the streets.

I had read about Banh Vietnamese Shop House, an upper west side restaurant which opened at the end of 2020. I have been meaning to make the 50 block walk uptown for a long time.

Clearly half of the upper west side had the same idea…we soon found out that the major draw was notable Chef John Nguyen’s guest appearance in the  Banh kitchen that drove hordes of hungry patrons to the restaurant last week to sample his elevated Vietnamese cuisine.

Chef Nguyen has an impressive resume having held court in outstanding restaurants in NYC, Los Angeles and recently opening his own restaurant in Hong Kong with his eye on Europe.

Unfortunately, after the 90 minute wait most of his personally created dishes were sold out.

I was heartbroken to miss out on the Grilled fresh Sea Urchin with Fish Sauce & Caviar and the Dry Aged Grilled Eel with Anchovies Pineapple Mam dipping sauce.

Chef painstakingly retrieved the Uni from the spiny shell himself and the dish just flew out of the kitchen.

I was able to score his Steamed Rice Crepes with Wagyu & Bone Marrow, Mushroom with Pineapple Nouc Cham (Nuoc Cham is a mixture of water, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce, creating the base that is a staple of Vietnamese flavor) and fabulous crunchy fried  onions on top ($18).

A shoutout to Banh “ambassador” Joseph for his guidance and for making the wait bearable. He is a talented music purist and admirer of the Beatles and Everly Brothers who has great taste in Vietnamese food and mad restaurant skills. What’s not to like?!

Once out of the cold and snuggled into a window seat in the intimate restaurant, Joseph guided us through the appealing menu.

First to arrive were the beyond fabulous Crispy Sticky Rice Cakes with ground mung bean and mushrooms (they also are prepared with pork) that were piping hot with crispy golden edges, accompanied by a delicious tangy soy dressing on the side and adorned with pickled scallion bulbs ($13.95).

Soon after the Vegan Pesto Banh Mi was served on a warm, crusty Balthazar baguette that brought back fond memories of our many Banh Mi sandwiches in Vietnam. The Banh Mi included tofu, smoked oyster mushrooms, basil pesto sauce, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, jalapenos and cilantro ($13.95).

The more traditional Vietnamese BBQ dish consisting of Charcoal Fired Grilled Pork skewers and crispy spring rolls served with warm vermicelli noodles,  large fresh lettuce leaves for rolling into an hand roll and fresh herbs was tantalizing ($18.95).

I barely had room left for the specialty rice crepes which were light and flavorful. I ended up taking them home for a late night snack.

There are also numerous Pho and Banh Mi offerings on the extensive menu.

Banh does not serve desserts, but we ended on a sweet note with hot drip Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk ($4.95) and a North Vietnamese  classic coffee drink made with airy and thick cream of egg yolk, condensed milk and vanilla ($5.95).

Joseph introduced us to the accomplished, personable and talented Chef John Nguyen.

He received high praise at NYC’s Hanoi House and was named Eater’s Chef of the Year in 2017.

John Nguyen and Nhu Ton own Banh. They met Chef John Nguyen (no relation) at Hanoi House in the East Village years ago.

John runs the dining room and Nhu Ton is the chef, whipping up a creative take on traditional Vietnamese recipes.

Banh Vietnamese Shop House is a tantalizing, reasonably priced culinary destination.

Banh Vietnamese Shop House 942 Amsterdam Avenue between 106 and 107th Street, New York City. Open Tuesday-Thursday 6-10pm, Friday and Saturday 12-4pm, 6-10pm, Sunday 12-4pm, 6-9pm. Closed Mondays. No reservations.

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