Just had take out from Province Chinese Canteen (in Tribeca) for dinner the other night, and I'm still thinking about the sandwiches, and when I can eat them again.
I got them because they are made on "mantou," this white Chinese bun that I had growing up (my mother or grandmother would buy them frozen from the supermarket and then steam them in a pot). They are really plain (kind of like white bread), but since they are steamed they are really soft and can be dipped in congee or whatever you would like. I suppose I was curious to see if this kind of hip Chinese snack place in Tribeca would have good food - I think I'm kind of Chinese food snobbish in that way, but then again, I've had a lot of pseudo-Chinese food. What throws me is the location - if it was really authentic, then it would be in Chinatown right?
I ordered the braised pork shoulder (which came with pickles) and the short rib and kimchee sandwiches. Their mantou (the picture above is of their shiitake and portabella mushroom sandwich) are made in house with sesame seeds and are more round than traditional ones (pictured right). The mantou was soft and fluffy as if it had just came out of the steamer. I liked the short rib and kimchee sandwich more than the braised pork shoulder (though it was still good). The short ribs were marinated in Province's special sauce and were just really tender and flavorful. Honestly, I think the reason I didn't like the pork shoulder more was that I was hoping that the pork shoulder would be like this dish my grandmother used to make, but it wasn't as fatty, and I like me some fatty pork shoulder (it's disgusting I know).
I also had some sugar snap peas which were incredibly green and crisp tasting that I thought it was summer again and not 30 degrees outside. Yum! However, they came with a pepper sesame vinaigrette which was pungent and I kept smelling it on my clothes afterwards and was really paranoid about other people smelling me (so be careful, or eat these while naked).
The sandwiches are small (think English muffin size - traditional mantou is not as small), but they come 2 for $7.50 or $3.95 each ($4.25 to $4.50 for the special mantou sandwiches), which is not bad since they were so tasty and that the restaurant is in Tribeca. However, if this place were in Chinatown I think that the sandwiches would sell for $2 max (think Dumpling House prices).
But it's not going to stop me from going back there. That is, until I start making my own homemade mantou sandwiches. I just found this recipe to make mantou, and it's just yeast, sugar, water and flour. How easy it that?
UPDATE: I have tried other sandwiches including the spicy pork, chili mackerel (after reading the NY Times article), and the shiitake and portabella one. So, my favorites are definitely the spicy pork and the short rib. The chili mackerel (though highly praised in the article) didn't live up to my expectations and the mushroom one is just plain slimy.
Also check out the later post when I made mantou!
Province Chinese Canteen
305 Church Street at Walker St.
New York, NY 10013