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July 14, 2005

Jury Duty - In search of Banh Mi

Jury duty in Manhattan is boring, but in all fairness, they've made it easier each time I have served. They now discharge jurors after two days if not picked for trial, however two days service only exempts you for two years. The law changed last September, but a serving on a three to eight day trial exempts you for four years and eight or more days exempts for six years. In the jury area at 111 Centre Street there is a work room with carrels with power outlets and miraculously, Ethernet cables. Get there early if you want one; there are only about 12 powered and wired carrels. The experience is quintessentially New York; the building itself is not equipped to handle the traffic going through it, especially the elevators. The two supervisors of the juror room are both crusty and affable. They treat jury orientation as a comic monologue and we're the captive audience.

Please be sure to sign in even if you are late. If you do not sign in, you will be marked absent and have to repeat service. People who have forgotten to sign in often approach the desk filled with irritation, and on the other side, we court officers sit here, filled with self-righteousness.
It's really not bad.

Yesterday they let us out for lunch from noon to 2, so I went home as I had forgotten my umbrella and cell phone. Today I was determined to treat myself to a meal in Chinatown, one of the few perks of jury service. My usual spot would have been Nha Trang, about two blocks from 111 Centre (go through the unfortunately named Bernard Kerik complex of the jail). This time I was determined to go to Saigon Banh Mi. (Scroll about 1/4 way down)

Saigon Banh Mi is farther into Chinatown, on East Broadway a few blocks from Golden Unicorn, our usual dim sum spot. I'm not sure of the route from the courthouses to East Broadway except that I needed to head east. Wandering eastwards through Chinatown is interesting in itself but by the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge I knew that I didn't have a clue where I was going. So I called the perennially stylish Eve Ng, who, as she said "can walk through Chinatown blindfolded". As well as east, I had headed north instead of south and Eve chatted with me and navigated me via cell phone to the East Broadway Mall . . . Where a sign said that Saigon Banh Mi had moved to 138-01 Mott Street. I was not only crushed, but sweaty, and robbed of my will to eat Banh Mi.

On Eve's advice as I walked back toward the courthouse I stopped in at a little storefront on Mosco Street between Mulberry and Mott that has a little sign out front saying "Fried Dumpling". Inside they sell four round fried pork buns or five crescent shaped potstickers for a dollar. Business with white pussyboys is conducted in sign language. I had the potstickers. They are freshly made in the little infernally hot store and they're pretty darn good for a buck. Nha Trang had a line waiting to eat, but New Pasteur right next door is also very good and not quite as crowded. I had my usual, Com Bo Luc Lac - Beef cubes and rice - $5. I live for Bo Luc Lac.

Directory of Banh Mi in NYC

Posted by Leigh Witchel at July 14, 2005 5:19 PM

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