No relation to Moonies, space cake, or traditional banh mi.

I rarely find myself in the Hudson Square/TriBeCa North/Holland Tunnel pollution-zone for dinner, but the occasion of a celebratory happy hour for a promoted co-worker led me (and her) to Mooncake Foods last night.  I had been to the 96th selection on the Sietsema list once before, in the period immediately after having found said list (and before starting to write about it), and found a good sandwich and crawfish dumplings, for a price that was fairly reasonable.

Last night I skipped the crawfish and, unfortunately, didn’t like the steak sandwich ($6.50) as much – mysteriously referred to by Sietsema as a banh mi, by the way.  (I guess since it’s a Vietnamese-American fusion place?  Nonetheless, there is no pate or pickled veggie to be found here.)   The sliced steak was grilled perhaps a little long, and the cut of meat was tough enough that it was nearly impossible to bite through it, but the garlic dill mayo and peppers were still delightful, and the bread was crusty in all the right places.

I helped the sandwich out a bit by dousing it with the green sauce that appeared on the table with no explanation – it seemed a creamier version of the spicy sauce that arrives in that multi-dish apparatus (or plastic tubs, if you prefer) next to onion relish and tamarind sauce with papadum.  Quite nice, though it didn’t help the messiness quotient that much.  A salad with a good version of the inevitable Japanese-style ginger salad dressing accompanied, satisfying my inner rabbit.

My co-worker had the miso-glazed salmon plate ($8.50), which left her a bit befuddled as to the actual miso content of the glaze (I noted only that miso-glaze rarely reminds me of miso soup, but I have no idea why this is).  It looked almost like it had been coated in a thin barbecue sauce.  It arrived with the same salad on a bed of rice.

With a low-key atmosphere, friendly service, and appealing menu choices, Mooncake would be a bigger hit, I’m guessing, if it were a bit closer to civilization (it reminds me, for some reason, of Bonnie’s, on 5th Avenue in Park Slope, despite a totally different culinary aesthetic).  I’d definitely go back to Mooncake if I was in the area, but it’s absolutely more of a “what’s good around here” place rather than a destination.  The prices sure are agreeable, though, and maybe that’s what would change for the worse if they had a more prominent location.  Watts St. between 6th Avenue and Thompson sure isn’t MacDougal.

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