the earl’s challenge: #33 — smoked salmon and caviar croque monsieur [at “Le Bernardin”] coconut tiger shrimp sandwich [at “Num Pang”]

8 Jul

on the original list, this spot is occupied by the smoked salmon and caviar croque monsieur from the prix fixe lunch menu at superstar chef eric ripert’s le bernardin. unfortunately, chef ripert ditched the croque a while back in one of his frequent menu tinkerings. fortunately, that omission frees me up to search for a replacement ‘wich, one that nods at chef ripert’s seafood masterpiece while boldly establishing its own culinary bona fides. (it also allows me to avoid having to pay $85 for the prix fixe. i live on sandwiches–i don’t have cash to burn!) behold, then, the coconut tiger shrimp ‘wich from num pang, the cambodian hole-in-the-wall that is my favorite ‘wich shop in all of manhattan (and whose mackerel with leeks ‘wich is no. 58 on the list). this ‘wich loads a copious amount of big shrimp–its “nod” to chef ripert’s seafood prowess–and pickled veggies into a firm but pliant bun. the topper for me, though? toasting the shrimp in coconut flakes. the coconut taste, so sorely missed by this homesick islander, shines through clearly and unmistakably. a compact asian-pacific culinary retreat in the hustle-and-bustle of the big city.

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