It was an unusual invitation. The main event was an introduction to Exotic Herbs Mayo presented by Num Pang Kitchen and Sir Kensington’s.
I had no idea what Num Pang was, but I was familiar with Sir Kensington’s – having discovered the mayo alternative at Whole Foods. I assumed that this was a new addition to the Sir Kensington Avocado Oil Mayo and it was going to be boldly-flavored Southeast-Asian inspired, creating an Exotic Herbs Mayo.
Should I Go or Should I Stay?
On a good day, I might even report on the opening of an envelope, so – appetite ready, I RSVP’d and added the date to my calendar.
I had no expectations. Frequently the food at events is awful! Prepared days in advance, the stuff served is only fit for the dumpster.
The event day was horrible. It was a cold, gray, damp January night – did I really want to bundle up, take 2 buses – just to taste mayonnaise? I had a choice, send an email to the PR people that I would not attend, or, put on the boots, and mittens, scarf and hat, get on the #15 and #23 buses, take a 10-minute walk to the restaurant, get a few photos, taste the mayo, and head back to my warm eastside coop.
When my frost-bitten toes and fingers found their way to the correct address and I opened the door, I was overwhelmed! The party was scheduled for 6 PM – my arrival was a bit later, but the party was in full throttle and the crowd was having a blast.
New Yorkers must be really bored to leave warm offices and apartments to discover a new mayonnaise. What was I missing from the message?
Much to my surprise, Num Pang is one of the most successful new fast casual food restaurants in Manhattan, and the opportunity to eat and drink for free brought the millennials out by the dozens, and they were having a fabulous time.
Who/What is Num Pang?
This chain of Southeast Asian-inspired sandwiches, bowls, soups, salads, and sides started in 2009 by two college friends, Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz. They met at Clark University in 1994 and reconnected in New York City in 2000. Since they had not been restaurant majors in college, they were surprised that both were active in the restaurant industry.
The Daitz family tree includes his father, Stephen, a professor of classical languages and Hebrew at City College and his mother, who is on the faculty at Julliard. After graduating from Clark, Daitz attended the Culinary Institute of America and worked with Danny Meyer’s at the now closed Tabla restaurant and with David Bouley at Danube.
Ratha Chaupoly opened Kampuchea in 2006 where Num Pang sandwiches were a menu staple. The pair decided to open the first Num Pang Sandwich shop near Union Square in 2009, followed by a Midtown East location. The combination of creative Asian sandwiches reflective of Chaupoly’s Cambodia childhood and Daitz’s culinary experience, made the shops instantly successful.
The pillars of the menu: classic Num Pang (Cambodian for sandwich), served with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili in combination with Five Spice Glazed Pork Belly Pang with pickled Asian pear and Coconut Tiger Shrimp Pang with toasted coconut bowls with a Rice or Super Grains (faro, quinoa, brown rice) base; seasonal grilled vegetables; chili yogurt; chive lime vinaigrette plus Lemon Grass Braised Beef Short Rib and Roasted Chicken “Chimi,” as well as soups, salads (raw kale and apples, charred broccoli), sides, and house-made beverages.
Today, there are locations in New York and Boston. Noted for graffiti art on the walls, and hip hop/reggae booming from the speakers, Num Pang has developed a loyal following that includes celebrity chefs and show biz stars.
The staff at Num Pang looks like they really like working at this popular and trendy restaurant and eagerly shared food platters and posed for photo opts.
The millennials at the party were definitely having a wonderful evening with bottles of Tiger Beer and cups of Rum Punch with ginger and paper umbrellas, and loved the ear-splitting sound curated by DJ Stretch Armstrong… This was a “must be at” party.
Whether you live in the City or are visiting, it is strongly suggested that you stop at Num Pang. My favorite? Spicy Organic Tofu. Num Pang will also cater your office party and will deliver to your preferred locale. They even have a loyalty app that can be downloaded. For additional information: numpangkitchen.com.
© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.