Is there ever a day when you don’t want noodles? The answer is clearly no. Even in the sweltering heat of summer you can find us lined up to get a fix of starchy, saucy goodness. Luckily, we have a new addition to the midtown scene as the popular East Village spot, Little Tong Noodle Shop, has just landed in Midtown East on 53rd St between 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave. Focusing on Mixian rice noodles, a fresh variety from the southwest Yunnan province of China, Little Tong offers bowls with a variety of sauces like spicy pork and green peppercorn oil or chicken confit and black sesame garlic oil. However, I dare to say the best thing on the menu aren’t the noodles, but a sandwich.
Inspired by the classic jianbing (a savory Chinese breakfast crepe), the JB Melt Sandwich Combo ($13) marries all the beauty of a stuffed jianbing with the flakiness of a scallion pancake and then packs in tender beef shank and melty cheese curds. And while cheese may seem out of place at a noodle shop, it’s actually quite common in the Yunnan province where goats and goat cheese are aplenty. I swung by to give the sandwich a try with some of their noodles (which I can confirm are just as lovely as those served at the original location).
The sandwich comes alongside a bowl of cabbage pickles and a cup of chicken broth for dipping. It’s like a French dip, but so much better. The flaky pancake offers the perfect greasy wrapper to trap even more grease from the salty cheese and umami-rich beef, all cut through by the pickles. Each bite was more indulgent than the last, slicking my lips and fingers with oil in the best way possible (that's why they have a big bowl of wet wipes by the cashier). In addition to noodles that will fight off any possibility of a sad desk lunch, I dare to say this may be one of the best sandwiches in NYC.