The quick-service restaurant industry has long been known for its fierce competition and closely guarded menu secrets. Ever try to find out what’s in that secret sauce you love from your favorite chain, and you’re likely to learn that the recipe is “proprietary.”
But one New York City–based fast casual is opening up its recipe book for the world to see. Num Pang, a Cambodian sandwich concept that is part of the wave of Fast Casual 2.0 concepts dishing chef-driven menu items in a laid-back atmosphere, is publishing a cookbook that contains many of its signature recipes.
The book, available May 17, is titled Num Pang: Bold Recipes from New York City’s Favorite Sandwich Shop.
“After six years and eight shops, we have so many loyal guests at Num Pang. It's truly humbling,” says Ratha Chaupoly, who founded Num Pang with college friend Ben Daitz and coauthored the cookbook. “Ben and I are so glad to give them a piece of Num Pang to take home, and an easy tool to re-create the flavors we are so proud of.”
The cookbook features 100 recipes from Num Pang, including those for several signature sandwiches, as well as recipes for sides like the Sambal Chili–Glazed Chicken Wings, condiments like Pickled Five-Spice Asian Pears, and stews like Curried Red Lentil Soup.
“It was important to us that we used this opportunity to show that the flavorful proteins and vegetables we are known for are not only awesome in a sandwich or bowl, but can also stand alone as main [entrées],” Chaupoly says. “You can also find recipes for our pickled items, side dishes, drinks—you name it—making it really well rounded for the home cook.”
At the core of the Num Pang menu are sandwiches known as num pangs, which were originally served at Chaupoly’s fine-dining restaurant Kampuchea, one of the first Cambodian restaurants in New York when it opened in 2006. Eventually, Daitz and Chaupoly—who was born in Cambodia—decided to open a spinoff serving only the num pang, and the brand has since grown to eight locations in New York. In 2015, the concept was rated the No. 1 fast casual in New York by customers in a Zagat report.
Num Pang features several regular and seasonal offerings, like the Pulled Duroc Pork, Coconut Tiger Shrimp, and Grilled Skirt Steak sandwiches, as well as soups, salads, and noodle and rice bowls. There are also premium beverages and, in some locations, beer and wine. The restaurants are vibrant, with graffiti splashed across the walls and hip-hop blaring over the speakers.
While fans won’t be able to take home that hip vibe that gives Num Pang a Millennial-friendly edge, Chaupoly hopes the cookbook at least gets them close enough.
“We want this book will be your best friend for dinner parties, picnics, date nights, or even just a simple weeknight meal,” he says.
By Sam Oches