Xe May is a small easy-to-miss sandwich shop in St. Mark’s with bold Southeast Asian flavors.
St. Mark’s manages to amaze me with the diversity of its people and the wide availability of stuff custom-made for those who are seeking something better than your average selection. I remember being mostly afraid of Vietnamese sandwich shops in general and banh mis in particular after a series of really terrible eating experiences in San Diego. I’m looking at you Cali Baguette and K Sandwiches with your $3 banh mis stuffed with mock meat and long cilantro stems!
But then as I started reacquainting myself with meat in my extensive travels from late 2012 and early 2013 in NYC, I couldn’t help but conclude that the meats in San Diego were particularly weird. When more than 70% of your clientele thrashes and whines about your taco shop’s 50-cent price increase, it’s hard not to lose heart and passion as a food purveyor. I’ve been a witness to the quality decline of food trucks in San Diego operated by well-meaning folks who’ve had to do a menu overhaul month after month in order to keep up with the pressing demands for 99-cent tacos and larger portions.
On to Xe May Sandwiches. I mostly opt for The Mean Green extra spicy but I have also tried The “Pilot” (lemongrass chicken), The “Hog” (Grilled Pork, Scallion Oil, Fried Shallots), and The Lam’bretta (Coconut Curry Lamb). All are excellent and handmade with love. They also have tacos and salads but I’ve only tried their affordable sandwiches which are $7.50-8.25. You know that if you want to eat healthy in an expensive city such as NYC, this is the minimum amount you’ll have to spend on a meal. Pair with Ito En Oi Ocha Dark Green Tea and you’re all set.