Japanese Sandos Are the Snackable, ’Grammable Dish That’s Suddenly Everywhere
The Japanese katsu sando is deliciously simple. It’s essentially made from three components: a piece of fried pork, a swipe of tonkatsu sauce and two slices of white bread. In Japan, the sandwich is often found on convenience-store shelves; in New York, Japanese spots like Hi-Collar have offered one for years, but more and more chefs are finding ways to reinterpret the humble snack. Here, eight delightful takes you need to try, stat.
Beef Tongue Sando at Maison Yaki
French and Japanese flavors come together at the recently opened yakitori restaurant from Olmsted’s Greg Baxtrom. This sando fuses elements from both cuisines—pieces of beef tongue and shoulder are flavored with cornichons, capers, parsley and chives, then piled onto house-made brioche with a tangy gribiche sauce.
626 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn; maisonyaki.com
Chicken Katsu Sando at Bonsai Kakigōri
Shaved-ice specialists Gaston Becherano and Theo Friedman go beyond desserts at their first brick-and-mortar shop. Along with new flavors of the signature frozen treat, Bonsai also serves toasts and sandwiches, including one that pairs crispy fried chicken breast, mayo and katsu sauce with Japanese bread from Recolte Bakery.
100 Stanton St.; bonsaikakigori.com
Black & White Sando at Peach Mart
In an homage to Asia’s beloved convenience stores, this to-go concept from David Chang’s Momofuku empire sells takeout such as kimbap (Korean sushi rolls) and sandos. In addition to savory options, there’s a sweet spin that slathers peanut butter, black sesame paste, citron jam and cream cheese between slices of fluffy milk bread. It’s like a PB&J sprinkled with fairy dust.
20 Hudson Yards, 5th Floor; peachmart.xyz
B.E.C. Sando at Bessou
Executive chef Emily Yuen takes the classic breakfast combo of bacon, egg and cheese to new heights with this creative interpretation. True to the restaurant’s Japanese roots, the brunch-only sando swaps in a Kobe beef hot dog (!) as the pork element to go with scallion scrambled eggs, American cheese, black garlic tonkatsu sauce and karashi (Japanese mustard) mayo.
5 Bleecker St.; bessou.nyc
Fried Fish Finger Sando at Momofuku Ssam Bar
Another David Chang property has jumped on the sando wagon: Executive chef Max Ng opts for seafood as the star ingredient, using fried catfish that’s first brined in buttermilk. Fixings for the lunch-only sandwich include shaved cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and Ng’s house-made Thousand Island dressing spiked with gochugaru (Korean chili powder) and horseradish. It’s all jammed onto white bread from East Village bakery Pan Ya.
207 Second Ave.; ssambar.momofuku.com
Pork Katsu Sando at Estela
It may look simple, but this rendition is infused with layers of flavor. The pork loin is brined andthen seasoned with mustard powder, Szechuan peppercorn and chili flakes before it’s breaded, fried and finally covered in a spicy miso. In a decidedly New York twist, chef Ignacio Mattos opts for challah from Russ & Daughters for a little extra heft. The sando—available only on Fridays at lunch—is served with marinated daikon and apple as a refreshing palate cleanser.
Tempura Fluke Sando at Morimoto
The version at celeb chef Masaharu Morimoto’s namesake restaurant features—no surprise—fish. Fresh Long Island fluke gets the tempura treatment before it’s placed between milk bread rolls from Balthazar Bakery along with a wasabi tartar sauce and fermented kohlrabi. (We don’t have a picture, but based on the restaurant’s notoriously photogenic dining room, you can be sure it’s pretty.)
88 Tenth Ave.; morimotonyc.com
Katsu Sando at Hi-Collar
A coffee shop by day and a sake bar by night, Hi-Collar is inspired by the kissatens (Western-style cafés) of Japan. Every day at noon, this pork sandwich hits the menu, but there’s a catch: Only ten are available daily. Featuring a slab of panko-breaded Berkshire pork wedged between soft shokupan (white milk bread), it’s absolutely worth a timely arrival.
214 E. 10th St.; hi-collar.com