Grab-and-go lunch places are sparse in Tribeca, Soulayphet “Phet” Schwader noticed as he built out recently opened Khe-Yo, a restaurant that pays homage to his native Laos. “In this neighborhood,” he says, “you have a choice between Chipotle or a bodega.”
Or, as of yesterday, Vietnamese sandwiches, since Schwader decided to take matters into his own hands and open Khe-Yosk, a tiny annex of his restaurant space that will operate during daytime hours.
The spot is selling just two sandwiches, one a combination of duck confit and foie gras, the other a mash-up of pork belly and pickled daikon. Both come on crusty banh mi baguettes Schwader says he had to scour Chinatown to find; both are sided with a non-traditional broth–made with the braising liquid from the pork, Beer Lao, fish sauce, and aromatics like star anise and cloves–in which you can dip your lunch a la French dip au jus. “That happened by accident,” the chef says of the twist. “I was making sandwiches for the guys, and I had some leftover jus. I thought, this would be perfect for dunking. The lightbulb went off.”
It’s a decadent enhancement, and it works particularly well with the duck and foie combo, tempering the rich play of crispy poultry and creamy pate with a palate-lifting edge of spice. We preferred the pork belly pure; the bread, pickled veggies, and tuft of cilantro give good balance to the pig.
Schwader says he may also eventually implement a vegetarian sandwich (or sort of vegetarian, since it will likely still have fish sauce in it), but for now, he’s keeping it simple.
Sandwiches are $11; Khe-Yosk is open from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.