I am so upset that I spent four years in America and never knew that An Choi on the Lower East Side existed. Wandering in off the street with weird hunger jetlag mid afternoon, I ordered what I promptly re-named the Greedy Special: a small bowl of boiling hot pho chay, (thin rice noodles with fried tofu, mushroom and bok choy in a really well-flavoured vegetable broth), and a half banh mi – a fresh-as-a-daisy Vietnamese baguette filled with sticky fried Portobello mushrooms, aioli, pickled carrots & daikon, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro and a f**k off belt of chili, which gave my jet lag its marching orders in no uncertain terms.

God it was good. So good I nearly ordered everything again. But that would have been excessive. I was *this* close tho.

It is practically a hole in the wall restaurant but it was the best thing I ate over three weeks in America. If you are anywhere in the vicinity you MUST GO. It’s five mins from the nearest subway, and you can always combine your trip with a visit to the Tenement Museum (really fascinating on immigrant life in NY on the 19th/early 20thCenturies) and go have some cake afterwards at the Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery just around the corner.

(I cannot recommend Babycakes gluten-free bakery a block over. Very expensive, and practically inedible. Well, edible only if you are chock full of allergies and this is your only chance to eat cake, in which case I get it. Otherwise, run screaming in horror towards the sugar and white flour purveyors at the SSSB.)

vietnamese exterior A

An Choi, 85 Orchard Street, New York, N.Y. 10002, Tel: 212-226-3700

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Totally with you on the gluten-free. It’s everywhere!! Why? Is it really that common an intolerance? I get really disappointed when a cake is labelled as such as I know it’s not going to be very nice 🙁


@annabel: hmm I’m not convinced that it is that widespread, but it’s an easy way to cut out bread from your diet without sounding like you are dieting. Yup, I’m a cynic. LLGxx


@LLG: OTOH the recent preponderance of gluten-free stuff in more places is a godsend if you have celiac disease; like my boyfriend and two of my best friends. And it’s totally frustrating for them that people often don’t take their auto-immune disease seriously (they get very ill indeed if they eat gluten) and think they’re just fussing about a purported ‘allergy’.

(They also get frustrated that GF baked goods understandably rarely match up to the ones with gluten but that’s another story.)


I subsisted on pho tai in San Francisco for most of my first two years there, along with, as fortunes improved, Vietnamese sandwiches and rice paper rolls that I bought at the top of Chinatown, near the mouth of the Stockton Tunnel. Good pho is hard to beat and I am glad you found a bowl!


@Suzanna: Mmmmmmm pho is essential for daily life. You are making me a little homesick for SF. Such great Vietnamese food there. Cheap AND tasty. LLGxx


Oh my goodness, I LOVE Sugar Sweet Sunshine. It is my absolute favorite.


@Aja: Great minds think alike, huh?! Mine too. LLGxx

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