Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sandwiches in Japan


Recommended Posts

I personally find most sandwiches in Japanese convenient stores/supermarkets to be pretty tasteless and overpriced.

There is one sandwich here I can't get enough of though, the hire-katsu/tonkatsu sandwich. For me this is the Japanese equivalent of the American cold meatloaf sandwich. White bread is a must and the condiments must be simple and just enough to taste but not so much that it drips.

Almost every department store basement has a stall that sell these sandwiches. Maisen (the famous tonkatsu restaurant) makes a wonderful, albeit pricey, one. You can also find them, though not as regularly, at convenient stores and supermarkets.

I found this one at a local supermarket, with a price of 278yen ($2.30) it was a steal and also one of the best ones I have ever had!

gallery_6134_4148_233958.jpg

Then yesterday I was in a nearby convenient store (3F) and found this version, I have never seen one like this before, it was club sandwich style. I wasn't my ideal katsu sandwich but it was good in its own right. Though it was pricier at 380yen ($3.15) it was also much more filling and made a perfect lunch.

gallery_6134_4148_57246.jpg

What are some of your favorite finds?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't think of any that I didn't like.

When I first went to Japan, fresh bread was somewhat of a novelty (for me, not the Japanese). The filling combinations were interesting. I used to occasionally have sandwiches for lunch instead of obentoo and l particularly liked the cabbage and bacon filling my host mother would make. Anything with egg was a winner too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My favourite midnight snack on returning to our Ryokan in Asakusa was a tonkatsu sando. The one with just the crumbed filet and a smidgeon of mayo.

My other fave (if the sandwiches were sold out) was the round fish-stick things with cheese in the centre.

Oh, and to drink, a carton of Van Houten Cocoa (best taken with a slurp of uiskii in it).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a bit hard on the Japanese sandwich scene because of the ubiquitous white bread, and I cried (in my heart, yeah ?) when Pret a Manger made a mess of their business here and gave up (choose the highest-rent locations you can find then close in the early evening ? Yeah, right. Sheesh).

I still after all these years haven't gotten over the potato salad sandwich. Something from both food groups, then, I always think :smile:

Now and again I'm seduced by 'shaki-shaki lettuce' at Family Mart, but I'm more likely these days to go for o-nigiri in that situation.

Otherwise Homework's (Tokyo gourmet sarnie and burger chain) ebi and avocado on wholewheat. Yay !!! Oo-hoo !!! But they closed down the Aoyama-3 shop and I dropped out of their delivery area. Boo !!! (I am lucky enough to own some gas-powered transport but I'm lazy, OK ?)

Those tonkatsu sands look great. Nice meat in the second one, in particular.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The following is a post I made to the convenient eats thread in 11/04:

For my convenient eats lunch this week, I decided to go to Natural Lawson (a "new" type of convenience store supposedly aimed at health-concious shoppers). This opened up about 2 years ago at the station near my house but I haven't made it in yet because there is absolutely no parking anywhere near it. I had this idea of a health foods convenience store, and sure enough upon walking in my eye catches the shelf of cookbooks next to all familiar magazines. Cookbooks are unusual in a convenience store and even more unusual is that they were all in the macrobiotic style focused on whole grains, tofu, vegetables,etc. Walking the aisles I see the familair conbini items snack foods, staples, etc but included among the staples are packs of hijiki, koya-dofu (dried tofu) and other various dried products I had never seen in a convenience store before.

I had visions of bentos with brown rice, various pickles, fish and dried vegetable dishes and wow was I dissapointed! :angry: Not only were the bentos the same as any other convenince store in the country they actually looked worse!

I finally decided on this

gallery_6134_91_1100749359.jpg

These looked the most appetizing to me....

and I have to admit they were pretty good, on the left is a BLT with cheese on black sesame bread and on the right is a sandwich with chicken pastrami and marinated onion/carrot/bell peppers with lettuce and cucumbers as well.

I haven't been into a Natural Lawson since and actually I don't even know if the one I did go to is still there.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Now and again I'm seduced by 'shaki-shaki lettuce' at Family Mart, but I'm more likely these days to go for o-nigiri in that situation.

When I was going through morning sickness with #2, I had serious craving for this sandwich. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm laughing, but I think I'll take the fifth, for all our sakes :wink:

Do you know the soup, 'pere tranquille' ? (Sorry I'm not typing 'pere' with the right accent).

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

I bought one pack of Maisen's hire katsu sandwiches in Tokyo the other day.

gallery_16375_5796_50972.jpg

Closeup:

gallery_16375_5796_27221.jpg

1,165 yen.

I wasn't very much impressed with the flavor or quality of the katsu. I very much prefer cheaper katsu sandwiches.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I bought one pack of Maisen's hire katsu sandwiches in Tokyo the other day.

gallery_16375_5796_50972.jpg

Closeup:

gallery_16375_5796_27221.jpg

1,165 yen.

I wasn't very much impressed with the flavor or quality of the katsu.  I very much prefer cheaper katsu sandwiches.

I am with you on this. While I wouldn't say they are bad they aren't worth the price. I usually get my katsu sandwich craving from the supermarket or convenience store. The 3F (convenience store chain) version is my favorite with a thin smear of karashi-mayo and a bit of cabbage as well as sauce and less than half the price of Maisen. This was my last meal before I left Japan for the summer this year. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am with you on this. While I wouldn't say they are bad they aren't worth the price. I usually get my katsu sandwich craving from the supermarket or convenience store. The 3F (convenience store chain) version is my favorite with a thin smear of karashi-mayo  and a bit of cabbage as well as sauce and less than half the price of Maisen. This was my last meal before I left Japan for the summer this year. :biggrin:

What I really hated about Maisen's was the absence of cabbage or any other vegetable.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I bought one pack of Maisen's hire katsu sandwiches in Tokyo the other day.

gallery_16375_5796_50972.jpg

Closeup:

gallery_16375_5796_27221.jpg

1,165 yen.

I wasn't very much impressed with the flavor or quality of the katsu.  I very much prefer cheaper katsu sandwiches.

Being landlocked here in SoCal and only having experienced Maisen once (where I singlehandedly must have eaten half of both the sauces on the table - how do they make that?! I'm still lusting and dreaming over my dinner at Maisen LOL) I have to admit that I'm completely green-eyed with envy at the fact that you and ToraKris have so many choices of great Katsu that Maisen's can be considered "not impressive".

I'd KILL to have access to a sandwich like that one on a regular basis. :)

In the 10 days we were in Japan earlier this year I must have eaten Katsu sandwiches on 4 of those days - definitely not health food but OH SO YUMMY!!!

Thanks so much for the pics and reminding me of happy times with Pork. Can't wait to go back and do it all over again.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm generally quite health conscious so I never eat ton katsu or katsu sandos ... You might as well just eat Big Mac!

I never eat sandwiches here ... Japanese bread is just so horrible!  Even the "good stuff" is never really good.

I really agree with you on the bread, it is really hard to find decent bread here and even if you did manage I wouldn't dare put any of that supermarket ham and cheese on it. The day after I arrived in the US this summer I went to the store and picked up an loaf of the darkest pumpernickel I could find along with a nice Amish baby swiss and Black Forest ham and ate sandwiches everyday for the first week!

The thing with the katsu sandwich is that it needs white bread to make it what it is, for me it is like a meatloaf sandwich which I would never put on anything except a generic white.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I love Japanese bread! I don't usually buy supermarket bread, though, so that may be why I think Japanese bread is so much better than North American bread. The French-style and Italian-style breads, in particular, are heads above the average French/Italian-styles available in most North American cities, but sadly, the German and heavier Eastern European-style breads are almost non-existent.

Costco used to have good pumpernickel and rye. Whatever happened to those?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As I said Kris, I'm quite health conscious so both ton katsu and white bread are two things I don't eat.

I'm curious why you feel that it must have only white bread.

Yamaya sells German pumpernickel, 5 grain and rye ... I just worry about the amount of preservatives it must have pumped in it... How do they keep it fresh for so long?

Link to post
Share on other sites
My parents are Latvian so I grew up eating dark rye bread.

I fins Japanese bread, even the so-called "good stuff" is just too spongy and airy and lacking in any body or texture.  That seems to be a recurring theme in Japanese food though.

Yeah, 'fuwa-fuwa' (light & fluffy) is frighteningly popular, isn't it ?

Back home I'd only eat wholewheat bread. The best bought-in experience I've had here in Tokyo was when I was working in Ark Hills, where there's a branch of the 'Aux Bacchanales' (oo baka naru ?) French bistro/bakery. I persuaded them to bake one of their square loaf tins (they do bake 100% wholewheat in a half-ball shape as part of their regular range) of 100% wholewheat at a time for me. That made three loaves a bit bigger than the standard Japanese 'ikkin' size, and they did a great job at a very good price.

Now those days are gone I'm not so self-assured, err, I mean I mostly bake my own using 100% wholewheat from these guys Sikisai and the no-knead technique Delia Smith re-popularised in the UK, based on Doris Grant's war-time method. It goes: warm the flour, mix the dough, shape, allow to rise for an hour or so, bake.

Prasantrin, I agree we have lots to celebrate in the way of bread in non-rural Japan. Fluffy white plastic CBP bread doesn't do much for me, but some of the bakeries do great stuff. Even on the mass-produced generic supermarket front, there are Pasco's whole grain English muffins at JPY137 (recently ~JPY150 ?) for four. Yay !

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious why you feel that it must have only white bread.

It is just a preference, I would never put either meatloaf nor tonkatsu on a bread other than white. It is just the taste I am looking for when eating these kinds of sandwiches. Though I prefer whole grain breads for toast sometimes I get a craving for a thick piece of Japanese fluffy white, it is just the flavor I want at that moment.

Also about once a year I get a craving for cheap white bread smeared with cheap tub margarine with cheap pasta and jarred pasta sauce, I think it reminds me of my college days...

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Also about once a year I get a craving for cheap white bread smeared with cheap tub margarine with cheap pasta and jarred pasta sauce, I think it reminds me of my college days...

Oh, I thought it was only me who did that. :blush:

I hardly ever eat bread in Japan, but I'm reasonably happy with the things the Anderson chain of bakeries put out. As for tonkatsu, which I love, and tonkatsu sandos, which I admire but rarely indulge in, I'm intrigued by these pictures. I usually don't eat the convenience store versions, since with all the filler in the meat, they basically amount to breadcrumbs, coated in breadcrumbs, deep-fried and then served between two slices of bread. Carbs like that, I don't need. But these Maisen ones look meaty and worth a try. I couldn't find a website for Maisen using an English google search (cursed Canadian laptop!) - can anyone tell me if the sandwiches are available in the Yokohama area?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I hardly ever eat bread in Japan, but I'm reasonably happy with the things the Anderson  chain of bakeries put out. As for tonkatsu, which I love, and tonkatsu sandos, which I admire but rarely indulge in, I'm intrigued by these pictures. I usually don't eat the convenience store versions, since with all the filler in the meat, they basically amount to breadcrumbs, coated in breadcrumbs, deep-fried and then served between two slices of bread. Carbs like that, I don't need. But these Maisen ones look meaty and worth a try. I couldn't find a website for Maisen using an English google search (cursed Canadian laptop!) - can anyone tell me if the sandwiches are available in the Yokohama area?

Erin, Are you in Yokohama now? I thought you were way on the other side of Tokyo. You can find a little Maisen stand in some department store basements.

Take another look at some of the grocery/convenience store ones again, they can be just as meaty at the Maisen ones and much cheaper.

If you really want to splurge try the Kimukatsu sandwiches, these are wonderful! Rather than one piece of meat they are made from extremely juicy layers of thinly sliced pork. It looks like the only basement these are available in is the Takashimaya at Futagotamagawa (Denentoshi/Hanzomon line).

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

gallery_41378_5233_70192.jpg

Last week I tried a tonkatsu sando from the Wako in the Cial at the station where I work. Very serviceable, a few vegetables to provide a counter-point, enough sauce so you know it's there, but not so much as it's goopy. The bread squished appropriately (you can see my finger marks in the picture), which I think is the point of white bread like this, yes? - that it collapse in on itself like a nutritional black hole?

Very satisfying, although I had to compromise and have it with a Coke Zero, not a Diet Coke. Whyohwhy is it so hard to get a Diet Coke in Japan? The only place I can reliably find it is at the drugstore, leading me to think that it's considered medicine. :hmmm:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Erin, That is by far the most vegetables I have seen in a katsu sando. I am going have to give that one a try. As much as I put down white bread that squishiness is actually mouth watering... :blink:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...