Cell phone snapshots can't do justice to food (that is, if you're a dinosaur like me and do not have an iPhone), but it goes without saying- or viewing, in this case- my discovery of the spicy tofu bun at Mantao, a Chinese sandwich place in Midtown.
The recently opened Mantao bucks the popular bahn mi craze by offering traditional steamed Chinese bread with both meaty and veggie fillings- vegetarian sandwich options include spicy tofu and a shiitake and portobello mushroom mix, with sides of kimchi, Chinese pickles, salads, spicy tofu noodles, and pan-fried vegetable dumplings. The spicy, firm slices of tofu were a great contrast to the soft, sesame flecked bun- with the slight crisp of picked cucumber and the fresh bite of cilantro leaves, this was the perfect twist on a perfect sandwich. I love when restaurants pack on the heat, so if you're sensitive to spicy dishes, I'd recommend sticking with mushroom mantao.
And with my meal topping out at a little over $5, I'm ready to place bets on Mantao's showdown with banh mi. If you're in Midtown and looking for a light lunch, Mantao is worth a visit!
Mantao, 235 E. 53rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, 212-888-2490