Downtown's Cheap Eats

by Julie Besonen, 09/14/2011

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  • Bánh mì Zòn
    443 E. 6th St., 646-524-6384, East Village, Manhattan
    Of the many reasons to target East 6th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A (A-1 Record Shop, Cherry Tavern, Death & Co.), one of them should be Bánh mì Zòn. This first-rate Vietnamese shoebox has blond wood surfaces and a magazine rack whose holdings illustrate its underpinnings: style (Harper's Bazaar) and faraway places (National Geographic). The chic proprietors, Truc-Lien Huynh and Tai Dang, are from Vietnam and mastered their cooking skills in Saigon. As for their bánh mì, it's hard to find a fresher sandwich for under $7. Pork, chicken, sardines or vegetables are combined in a baguette with cucumber, cilantro, soy sauce, pickled carrots, daikon and spices (the level of the latter is adjustable). The lotus stem salad with shrimp, mint and crushed peanuts is also lovely.

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