Katsu Sando at Bright, Hackney

26 Jul

LOCATION: Bright, 1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL [map].

PRICE: £7.

BREAD: White sliced. No messin’.

FILLING: Breaded, deep-fried pork, shredded white cabbage, katsu sauce.

PROS: HA. Didn’t expect this, did you? I’ve written another review!

Remember when I told you the katsu sando is a trend? Yuh huh. FEEL MY TRUTHS. It’s amazing how two sandwiches made with the same constituent parts can be so different, though. Now I think, I think – and I say this as a person who has never even been to Japan I think, this is more what a tradish katsu sando is likeThe crusts are off, for a start, and it’s very neat, you know? It’s very beautiful and the cutlet has the perfect crunch and each bite I feel like I’m floating above my chair watching myself have a moment and I want to prise the fingers of my dining companion apart and take his piece of the sandwich and eat it for myself, like a sandwich Gollum. My precioussssss. 

Oh, but what is not tradish at all is the hot mustard – a stroke of genius. Yes to fierce yellow condiments, which only work because the katsu sauce, in this case, is quite timid.

CONS: It’s more expensive than the sando at Nanban AND it’s smaller but that makes sense in the context of it being a touch self-conscious. Bright is one of those places that’s like ‘oh we’re totally casual, we’re like the new wave of chilled out wine people don’t be afraid’ but then you ask a question about what to drink that doesn’t quite scan past their wine-dar correctly and they laugh at you for not knowing they would absolutely NEVER stock such and such style of x. That annoyed me, I’ll be honest. Point off for that, lads!

SCORE: 8/10 

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Katsu Sando at Nanban, Brixton

8 Jul

LOCATION: Nanban, 426 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LF [map].

PRICE: £5.

BREAD: White sliced, the kind you ate as a kid before bread got ideas.

FILLING: Crumbed, deep-fried pork shoulder, katsu sauce, shredded cabbage.

PROS: HI! I’m back. Again. Like a bad boyfriend who keeps making promises then letting you down I’m gonna tell you that this time, it’s different. This time, it’s forever.

Here’s the news: Nanban is one of the best restaurants in Brixton and it specialises in ‘Japanese soul food’. As a side note, you must also order their hot wings and the curry goat dipping ramen from the main menu. The sandwiches, however, are served from a hatch at the front of the restaurant and are takeaway only. I’ll leave you to deal with that problem. I’m just gifting you the info, I can’t do everything.

London is having a moment with katsu sandwiches, as you will soon see. Not famil with the katsu sando? It’s basically breaded, deep fried pork in a sandwich with katsu sauce, which is like a Japanese version of brown sauce – full of sweet and sour flavours and in this case, punchy with tamarind. It is a freakin’ delight my friend – do yourself a favour by eating one.

You have the juicy pork, you have the crunchy crumb, you have the freshness of shredded white cabbage and you have the full-on flavour from the katsu sauce – all inside the kind of trashy white bread that makes you whimper with nostalgic delight. Oh, and it’s a fiver. You can barely buy a sodding pint for a fiver in London!!

CONS: Now, what I don’t recommend doing is ordering a portion of ponzu dressed Padron peppers, a scotch egg, the aji fry, a portion of gyoza, a portion of addictive cabbage, a portion of hot wings and a bowl of crab noodles between three people BEFORE you each take down a katsu sandwich. I really cannot recommend that at all. It’s too much food. This is not the sando’s fault, of course, but I just had to get closure.

SCORE: 9/10 (we all know the 10/10 isn’t really a thing).

Bacon Sandwich at Coal Rooms, Peckham

13 Oct

Coal Rooms Bacon Sandwich

LOCATION: Coal Rooms, 11a Station Way, SE15 4RX (it’s attached to Peckham Rye Station, in the old waiting room) [map]

PRICE: £5? I always think ‘I’ll look online’ and then the price is never online.

BREAD: We’ll get to this.

FILLING: Bacon, dumbass.

PROS: You’ve got to admire their enthusiasm at Coal Rooms; they’re doing a lot themselves, including making this bacon. You also get to choose which bit you’d like them to slice so you can have more or less fat, depending on your preference. I went for half and half because answering the question: ‘how much bacon fat do you want?’ was seemingly impossible at 9am on a Tuesday.

About that. We weren’t sure we’d actually be able to eat the bacon sandwiches as when I asked after them I was told they’re available from 9am, ‘if the chefs turn up at 9’ which put me in a bit of a tricky position because we were having a Pit magazine meeting and had based the entire thing around the availability of the sandwiches because that’s the way we (bacon) roll.

I’m not being a dick about this by the way; I understand that being a chef is hard graft and means late nights and I don’t really give a shit if you get in at half nine or 8.45 but I’m mentioning it because you lot need to know that the sandwiches are kind of available from 9am. Don’t hold this against them because you’ll piss me off.

So the bacon was lovely; thick cut and full of flavour from the coffee cure (they use coffee grounds because this place is from the people behind Spike and Earl Roastery and that’s their thing). It wasn’t at all crisped up like bacon though, so it was basically like eating a nice ham sandwich. You get a choice of sauce but I chose brown because that is the correct option. As I said to a mate the other day: ketchup is for chips and children.

CONS: The bread is fully weird. I don’t know what they’re trying to do here but the only way I can describe it is like a sort of split, slightly sweet, overly-bready doughnut. It was pretty solid, rather dry and overall not a pleasant thing to eat. I’m sorry, Coal Rooms; I really am on your side and I think you can be brilliant but for the love of hog you gotta change that bread.

SCORE: 7/10 (extra point because the toilets are cool).

Sushi Sandwiches at Sapporo Ichiban, Catford

26 Sep

Fashion Sandwich

Photo: Ewan Munro on Flickr

LOCATION: Sapporo Ichiban, 13 Catford Broadway, SE6 4SP [map]

PRICE: £5.20 for 4 pieces (triangles, so one sandwich in total I guess)

BREAD: None. It’s rice. PSYCH!

FILLING: Fish! Options are salmon, tuna or prawn with avocado and Japanese mayonnaise. I had salmon.

Yeah, that’s right: sushi sandwiches. Never thought you’d see the day, did you? Me neither tbh. They’re real though, I promise, and they await you in deepest darkest Catford.

I ate these sandwiches with people I now make a magazine with so you can see that they are blessed with innate creative power and universe spinning wonderment. I am absolutely sure that the magazine would’ve failed had we not shared the experience of eating these sandwiches.

It’s not sushi IN a sandwich. Not the rice and fish together, inside bread. Are you sick? This is a sandwich made with the two constituent ingredients and then fashioned into the shape of a sandwich because we all know that if you just make something the shape of a sandwich that qualifies it as such *HEAVY SARCASM*. See the Yorkshire pudding wrap that’s been doing the rounds recently.

But while the Yorkie wrap mildly irritates me, I feel extremely positive about the sushi sandwiches. What kind of person fashions sushi into the shape of a sandwich with a straight face and then goes the extra mile by calling it ‘Fashion Sandwich’ and charging people money for it? Brilliant. They deserve to get rich on the concept and open dedicated sushi sandwich branches, all over town. It will become like Pret, only with better mayonnaise and more laughs. The people behind it will then be given an OBE or whichever one it is for services to gastronomy and Catford will become a place of pilgrimage for coachloads of Japanese tourists, bringing huge wealth to the area but not a level of gentrification that makes people unhappy. Brexit will be reversed, Trump won’t exist and we will all live happily ever after munching on triangular bits of rice and fish. I think you’ll agree.

SCORE: 10/10

Ham and Taleggio Baguette at Birley’s, Old Broad Street

22 Jun

This is a guest post from a guy called Jerry. I don’t know him or anything. We’ve never met. He’s done reviews on here before though so I let him carry on because let’s face it, someone has to.

LOCATION: Birley’s, 89-91 Old Broad Street, EC2M 1JJ [map]

PRICE: £4.75

BREAD: Ficelle baguette, lightly buttered I should say.

FILLING: Ham, taleggio, rocket, sun blushed tomatoes, pesto.

There’s always something slightly intimidating about going to an unknown sandwich shop in a busy lunchtime. You’ve no idea what the queuing protocol is, where and when to pay, the extent to which sandwiches can be made to order, etc. In your mind, everyone that’s in there is a lunchtime regular, on first-name terms with the staff, can spontaneously launch into footie banter, and will judge you with sneering contempt as you fumblingly ask for extra sweetcorn in the tuna and sweetcorn then spill your coppers all over the floor like some sort of spotty French exchange student loser.

If these sorts of anxieties eat you up at night then you will be fucking terrified by Birley’s. Its largest outlet is smack bang in the middle of the city between Moorgate and Liverpool Street and seems to be occupied at all times of the day by tight packs of guffawing, coiffured, pin-striped city types called Oliver bulk buying club sandwiches for their entire trading floor. On top of that there is a long queue on the right which the rookie will happily join, despite it leading only to the soup/salad bar, and for sandwiches you have to barge your way through to the long counter where it is, to all intents and purposes, every man, woman and child to themselves, with a separate ticketing and payment system.

But behind the counter, dear reader, is sandwich heaven. Each menu item looks like they have been crafted by 30 years of customer feedback to produce the deliciousness that now awaits. Today’s choice was the Ham and Taleggio, which you might think would contain just those two punchy ingredients, but no. There are the pesto and rocket offering a peppery counterpoint to the salty kick of the Taleggio, and, in the next bite, you are surprised by the juiciness and texture of the sun-blushed tomatoes.

The bread itself is ficelle, which is lighter of texture than it looks, and full of air pockets, emphasising the savoury kick of the cheese even more. With each taste, a different combination of taste buds are stimulated, and I may have been stimulated elsewhere as well. It was an absolute triumph of a sandwich, best I’ve had all year.

SCORE: 9.6/10

Tuna Panuozzo at Theo’s, Camberwell

20 Oct

panuozzo

LOCATION: Theo’s Pizzeria, 2 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY [map]

PRICE: £5

BREAD: Lovely sourdough pizza base.

FILLING: Tuna, mozzarella, chilli, black olives, sliced onion.

PROS: I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, because for years I have upheld the belief that the tuna melt is basically the most disgusting sandwich of all time. I mean, tuna with cheese, FFS. Fish with CHEESE. Fishy cheese. Chishy feeze. Can you think of any other dish where that’s a thing? I can’t. Fish pie, maybe, if you’re the kind of idiot who puts cheese on a fish pie, in which case your opinions aren’t valid anyway. No, it doesn’t work, it shouldn’t be done and yet, here we are.

The reason Theo’s gets away with this, I think, is the quality of the ingredients. They use Ortiz, which, in case you don’t know, is basically really good tinned tuna. Not that grey mushy shite you get from Prince’s that looks like it was scraped out of the tumble dryer lint collector. No students, anywhere, are mixing this with mayonnaise and putting it on their jacket potatoes. So there’s that. Then there is the mozzarella which I know is Bianca la Bufala flown in from Naples because I asked about it when I wrote this review of their pizzas. Again, brilliant. There is sliced onion and chilli to give it some bite and there are shiny black olives. I don’t know anything about the olives except that they’re very good and I’m sad when they’re all gone. They’re glossy and plump and they slip around and out of the sandwich and you pick one up and eat it and feel happy.

It’s just a really classy sandwich, is what I’m saying. Tuna and sodding cheese.

CONS: Head fuck.

SCORE: 9/10

Shrimp and Crab Sandwich at Joe Allen, Covent Garden

26 Mar

Joe Allen Crab Sandwich

LOCATION: Joe Allen, 13 Exeter Street, WC2E 7DT [map]

PRICE: £13.95

BREAD: Brioche bun.

FILLING: Crab, mayo, shrimp, salad, micro-herbs.

PROS: I was supposed to be eating at an awards ceremony the evening I ate this sandwich (yeah, yeah, get me etc.), but when I arrived it became clear that the event was sponsored by a home delivery company, and consequently I would be eating mass catered curry while watching people I didn’t know step onto a stage to receive an award I didn’t care about and I thought you know what? Fuck this, I’m having dinner elsewhere. We ended up in Joe Allen because I’d never been and it’s somewhere that should really be ticked off the list. The history is that theatrical types like um, actors, or whatever, used to go there post-show because a) it’s close and b) it’s open. There are pictures of famous people all over the walls, a pianist and a TV showing films that would be referred to as ‘classic’ (old).

So anyway crab is my favourite thing to eat in the whole wide world, which is both a blessing (it exists, I eat a lot of it) and a curse, because if it’s on the menu I can’t order anything else. I always have a really bad case of FOMOOC (Fear Of Missing Out On Crab). Now I’ve eaten some very memorable crab sandwiches in my time, e.g at El Pescadore Fish Market and Point Loma Seafoods, both in San Diego, and yes of course they were better because I ate them on the coast in San Diego but really, that’s not the whole story here.

The plus points with this sandwich were that a) it had crab in it (INSTANT WIN), and b) it had prawns in it. Both were fresh and um, actually I’m a little bored just thinking about it again.

CONS: It was just fine, you know. The crab was in a little ball in the middle, plenty of white meat but crying out for more of the brown to give it that sort of funky, sea-offal flavour. It was polite and unremarkable, a bit like the rest of the menu. The prawns were cut in half and balanced around the outside in a dainty fashion. The bun was very sweet, even by brioche standards and the whole thing was small. Celebrity-sized. The Kylie Minogue of sandwiches.

SCORE: 5/10