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London’s best new sandwich is the katsu sando

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 14/09/2018 Susannah Butter

a man sitting at a table posing for the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The chicken connoisseur would approve. London’s hottest sandwich is deep-fried, with plenty of crunch and spicy kick.

The katsu sando comes from Japan. The formula is simple — breaded meat (usually chicken or pork), topped with shredded cabbage, mayo and chilli sauce and sandwiched between two slices of white bread for soft contrast with the breadcrumbs, crusts strictly off.

The Japanese version uses a yielding loaf called milk bread and the layers look visually pleasing — white meat, golden crumb and colourful toppings.

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It abides by the rules of sandwich-making: lots of different flavours and textures, contrasting, balancing and brought together in bread that plays a role in the flavour too. The breadcrumbs are crispy, the meat adds savoury depth and juice, the sauce is perky.

It’s apt that it has become popular as millennials are being blamed for a drop in potato sales — why bother cleaning, peeling and boiling for at least 20 minutes when sliced bread is just as satisfying?

Related: Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese Is The Yummiest Sandwich We've Ever Made (Provided by Delish)

Leading the trend is Bright, a new restaurant in Hackney. Its sando is an Instagram sensation. Founder Phil Bracey discovered the sando on a trip to Japan. He says: “In Japan we’d constantly find ourselves getting katsu sandos from a variety of places, some finer and more serious, others just from the 7/11. It was just a constant during our trip and when we got back we just thought it’d be nice and interesting to put one on the menu. Simple, delicious but also unpretentious and grounding.” His version features panko breadcrumbed pork cutlet and cabbage with a dollop of hot mustard. 

If you like your sandwiches with context, katsu is short for katsuretsu, meaning cutlets in Japanese and sando is, you guessed it, an abbreviation of sandwich.

TATA Eatery, which recently popped up at Borough Wines near Queen’s Park, serves its version with raspberry jam, for a sweet/savoury riff. It’s made with ibérico pork neck, panko-crusted and served with a fermented pepper-based riff on kimchi, and served with cabbage and that fruity jam.

At Nanban in Brixton they also use pork because it is so juicy. The sando there is just a fiver — the same as a pint.

a sandwich cut in half on a plate: katsu-sando-bright-1209b.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited katsu-sando-bright-1209b.jpg Sides are encouraged. Monocle café serves its attractive chicken katsu sando with iceberg lettuce with salt and vinegar crisps, for extra crunchy ballast. Meanwhile at Sosharu in Clerkenwell (which means social in Japanese) it comes with a dashi maki tomago (an omelette). It uses breaded pork, in hot bread, with red cabbage and wholegrain mustard.

Chefs are experimenting with flavour. Tsuru’s in Shoreditch has a sweet mayo sauce.

This is a global trend. In America the sandos are more high end, with Wagyu beef a common filling. The eternally imaginative Momofuku in New York brines the meat in buttermilk kimchee purée and then glazes it with a pickled pepper mixture. It’s a high-low mash-up that works.

Related: 30 Cheap, Easy Breakfast Ideas to Start the Day Right (Provided by Cheapism)


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