The Early Word: Xie Xie Project

Xie Xie's Asian lobster roll
Xie Xie's Asian lobster roll

Xie Xie (pronounced "shay-shay" -- "thank you" in Mandarin) is a pan-Asian sandwich shop recently opened in Hell's Kitchen. It's opening was followed on many of the food blogs, and comments indicate that people were vaguely annoyed with this place before it even got started. Maybe it's because everyone's heard way too much about upscale Asian sandwiches this year--on the other hand, if it's a good upscale Asian sandwich, what's the problem?

Sometimes the problem is in the cost. Xie Xie's five sandwiches range from $8.75 to $14. That's pricey, but comparable to Baoguette and Num Pang, two other new, popular, fancified Asian sandwich joints.

Xie Xie's offerings aren't generally based on anything traditional, but are freestyle creations, deploying ingredients like Sriracha, kimchi, and Kewpie Mayo, and various other good things.

Vietnamese beef sandwich
Vietnamese beef sandwich

At $14, the lobster roll could have had more lobster. Still, do you ever get enough lobster in a lobster roll? The chopped meat is held together with the delicious, MSG-spiked Kewpie Mayo, along with tarragon and a sprinkle of crisp fried shallots on top. The eggy bun is fine, but a little too substantial, messing up the ratio of bun to lobster.

The Vietnamese barbecue beef sandwich is better, with a pleasantly squishy but resilient bun. Inside is are serious hunks of short rib, coarse-grained and tender, along with shredded vegetables, including pickled carrot. It oozes basil mayo, and is slightly more affordable at $9.

Plus, Xie Xie offers wine juice boxes and cans of Sofia sparkling wine. Go for a work lunch every now and then and return to the office a little happier.

Are the sandwiches brilliant? No, but they're seriously tasty, and a good addition to the neighborhood.

645A Ninth Avenue 212-265-2975 xiexieproject.com


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