Japanese Sandwiches, better than Sushi or Ramen?

After 20 years of living in Japan, I’ve learned to have an amazing appreciation for the food. It’s incredible! There is “sushi” Japan’s most well-known dish. “Kaisendon” mixes it all up, fresh seafood on a bed of rice. “Okonomiyaki” Japanese pancake with a savory sauce. “Ramen” taking a bowl of noodles to another level! Some foods are made really fast, like this mochi. Or in large batches, like takoyaki. …just let them cool down a bit first… “Kaiseki-ryri” at a ryokan is Japanese cuisine at its finest.

It’s as much art as it is food. Some dishes are just plain weird! Like these “tako tamago”. …egghead octopi. But Japan being Japan, they found a way to make international foods their own. And that includes the sandwich. Japanized to local tastes. Sandwiches in Japan are some of the most colorful and random foods in the country. There are no rules other than food between two pieces of bread. An infinite number to choose from. And the place to go if you want to see all of the sandwiches Japan has to offer… is a train station. Before boarding a train, travellers often grab a bento or boxed lunch. But, sandwiches also have a place on the shelf in bento shops. Gourmet sandwiches and designer boxes come with higher price tags And, sometimes, a higher level of taste. Cheaper sandwiches come in cellophane wrap, but that doesn’t make them inferior. Often, it means that the ingredients and combinations get crazier since you could see the contents inside.

The visual is just as important as the taste. Lunch packs are some of the cheapest sandwiches around. The variety will amaze you, and it’s fun to try. – Japanese food is perfection, and the sandwiches are exquisite. Crust cut off, sliced finger-sized Melted cheese? Yes, please. For sophisticated tastes, fruits with cream, shall we? Here, a mixed sandwich box. “Hirekatsu” and “ebikatsu” with napkin wet, of course. Breaded shrimp fried cutlet with a delicious sauce. The sandwich just melts together with the bread Such decadence. The “hire” pork cutlet has left the plate and made its way to the most inviting bed of bread.

The golden outer layer brushed with a tangy sauce. This cheese “katsu sando” is unique Inside this luxury box is a sandwich cut in half. The layers of pork surrounding cheese The colors, simply divine. The flavors dancing a tangle in your mouth with every bite. Ahh yes, the “fruit sando” Red, orange and green, on white bread. Triangular in shape, opened with a red ribbon cutting. Inside is a delicate sandwich Sweet aromas of country fruit stands on a sunny day.

The fruit is surrounded by fresh cream, great as either a light meal, or a dessert. An egg in dashi soup grilled sandwich is moist, and voluminous. Between the egg and bread, is a shiso leaf. Adding yet another dimension. This egg sandwich is wrapped like a present. In many ways, it is, for the palette. Break the seal. Inside, a six of your new found friends. Six finger-sized egg sandwiches, you can either share… or keep for your selfish self. Your devilish hunger will appreciate the soft bread and that oh-so-slight-resistance of the egg between. Yet another “hirekatsu sando”, from a well-known maker. It’s packaged like the luxury food it is. Unwrapped, it reveals a well-balanced “katsu sando”. Presented to us by the same maker, is this hamburg sandwich. Wrapped in a similar fashion to its cousin, this burger has been breaded and fried. Served cold, it is not your typical hamburger. But indeed, a sandwich. Bite-sized pieces, just enough meat for full flavor with the square bread. An outcast we can hardly call a sandwich.

It resembles an “onigiri”, but it may even be called a sandwich. A having a delicious tomato sauce, egg and hamburg between the rice and seaweed layers Normal bread may even be as jealous as the taste is memorable. A lovely vegetable croquette, meets two layers of white bread to make the croquette sandwich. Chunks of vegetables with potatoes breaded and deep-fried with sauce. Inside is a layer of shredded cabbage and more sauce! Bring it to your lips for an enchanting bite. The amazing Japanese sandwich deserves the VIP treatment. Premium, platinum, diamond level taste in every bite. Itadakimasu. – 8pm on a weeknight in Central Tokyo Ginza, it’s a classy neighbourhood. And that means it has classy sandwiches. My favourite sandwich is served in a fancy restaurant, Madame Shrimp Grace. Among their gourmet shrimp menu entres, is the ebikatsu sandwich. The shrimp fried cutlet is soft and tender on the inside Crispy and rich on the outside.

A delicate mustard sauce bridging it with the freshly baked bread. It’s still slightly warm, the perfect restaurant-made sandwich temperature from the kitchen. I was going to eat it at the bar, with the view of the city below, but this is a sandwich best shared with a friend. Jennifer was waiting at the vending machine corner in Yrakuch and I had a surprise for her.

The chef had wrapped the sandwich to go The perfect sandwich will always travel well, gourmet or otherwise. It lies perfectly in a plastic homemade specifically for its transit. Also fits perfectly in the hand. Let’s hear what Jennifer has to say. – Food is all about balance, and this sandwich, why is it so good? It’s because so well-balanced like, the ingredients also are so refined so this shrimp is cooked perfectly so it’s so soft and delicate in the mouth And the balance with bread and, you know? The fried part around, it’s just perfect.

I think this is why it feels so good and so tasty Tasty, but very elegant taste. – What makes this sandwich my favourite of all of the other Japanese sandwiches that it’s just so delicate, the way that the shrimp is- is kind of all cut up and minced together and then deep-fried All those- all those textures sort of combined The outside is crunchy, the inside is so soft And then there’s the bread, if the bread is good it kind of brings it all together And, sandwiches isn’t something that I think of being a premium food It can’t compete with the steak but, it tastes as good as this! It might! – A sandwich in Japan can be anything you want it to be Not limited to lunch or a fast snack, it’s a meal! Like all others where creativity has no limits The only rule being that you have to hold it in your hands to eat it.

In Kyoto, there’s the Kuro wagyu millefeuille “katsu sando”. It’s got layers of wagyu beef. Sauce and cabbage on baked bread. And at Shin-saka station, I found this. The wagyu cutlet sandwich made from Matsusaka beef. Real premium stuff. The crispy fried edges of the sandwich and the softness of the bread is an ideal texture in the mouth. The last taste is the main ingredient, that wagyu in the middle. Delicious. We’re back where we first started this Japanese sandwich adventure. Kimuraya is where bread broke in the Japanese diets in the mid-1800s, and still makes amazing baked goods today in the richest part of town. They also make a mean “ebikatsu” shrimp fried sandwich. When you feel it’s time to put the sushi and ramen away, pull out a sandwich and enjoy your food that you know well… …with a Japanese twist. Next time, we’ll head to an izakaya that uses a blowtorch, or should I say a flamethrower, to cook the food. The place is really fun, and the food? Tune in next time to find out. (If you liked it, hit that subscribe button!) (And check out another one of our shows.) (Don’t miss my second live streaming channel, ONLY in JAPAN GO.) (And check out location photos on Instagram.) ??? (mata-ne)

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