The Early Word: No. 7 Sub Shop

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No. 7 Sub's General Tso's Tofu
Last week, after months of drooling anticipation, No. 7 Sub Shop opened its doors in the Ace Hotel, becoming the newest member of what is effectively the city's most pedigreed food court. Long before the shop opened, Tyler Kord had earned a reputation as something of a sandwich savant back at Fort Greene's No. 7, thanks to the inspired creations he conjured for the restaurant's bar menu. Tales of deep-fried tofu and imitation lobster rolls quickly made their way across the East River and beyond, as did word that Kord and Co. would be baking special hero-style buns in a dedicated production space. So it wasn't all that surprising to learn that, within hours of opening on Friday, the sub shop had already run out of bread.

After hearing that Sunday's bread supply had been depleted within an hour of opening, Fork in the Road showed up before noon today to sample the menu created by Kord, his partner Matt Sumchowski, and pastry chef Amanda Clarke.

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The Turkey Cubano

It's early days for the shop, so they're still working out a few kinks: Despite opening their doors at 11:30, the team of cooks, with Kord at the helm, wasn't quite ready to go, though the scent of toasting bread provided some tantalizing hints of how customer patience would be rewarded.

Each of No. 7's subs costs $9. We tried two, the General Tso's Tofu and the Turkey Cubano, as well as a 16-ounce hibiscus-ginger soda, made in-house. Since there's nowhere to eat inside the shop, we headed for nearby Madison Square Park, where we unwrapped, to our intense delight, subs that appeared substantial and well-constructed enough to justify both the price tag and sub designation.

The General Tso's Sub was comprised of deep-fried slabs of tofu, julienned carrots, arugula, broccoli mayonnaise, and caramelized onions. It tasted of mortal sin and eternal love, and may be the best thing to happen to vegetarians since the invention of the grilled cheese sandwich. The tofu, encased in its tawny crust and smothered by the fat, squishy ribbons of sweet onion, was more akin to heroin than anything derived from a soy bean. The broccoli mayo was applied with a generous but not punishing hand, and the bread, as Kord promised, was super-soft, with a pliant, floury crust, halfway between hot dog bun and baguette. And because it was toasted before the sandwich was assembled, it was still warm once we reached the park.

The Turkey Cubano was piled with mustard, Swiss, and pickled daikon. All of the ingredients played well together, though could have used a bit more balance. Obviously, when you order a turkey sandwich, you're getting it because you like turkey and want to taste turkey, but the flavor of the chopped turkey breast overwhelmed the other ingredients. Still, the pickled daikon managed to shine through, and was a nice complement to the turkey. The bread, as with the General Tso, was warm and good enough to warp the dopamine receptors of an elephant. Honestly, the shop could serve nothing but that bread, accompanied by tubs of melted butter, and it would still turn a profit, and probably resemble a methadone clinic.

No. 7 Sub's also making its own soda -- we tried the hibiscus-ginger, and loved the fiery tracks it made down our throats. It left a pleasant tingling sensation, though that may have been our central nervous system trying to cope with the lingering effects of the tofu.

No. 7 Sub Shop
1188 Broadway
212-532-1680

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Hibiscus-ginger soda

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The end.

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