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Three Japanese Sandos With the Fluffiest Milk Bread



In an era of rampant language baby-ification — “delulu” for confidently delusional, “stimmy” for stimulus check, “bb” for baby — one might forget that sando isn’t a cutesy shorthand for the word sandwich. It is, in fact, the Japanese word for sandwich, shortened from sandoitchi, itself one of many “loan words” from English and other languages. And it usually only applies to a specific category of sandwiches (served on fluffy slices of shokupan, or milk bread) that started with the katsu sando in the 1930s.

New York City, being the melting pot that it is, has its fair share of sando purveyors: Hi-Collar in the East Village, Little Egg in Prospect Heights, Forest Cafe in Queens. But if you’ve never enjoyed the divine pleasures of a sando, then now is the time — there’s nothing quite like a good one. And if you already know and love them, here are three newer options for the next time you have a craving.

Let’s begin with the cult-favorite that is the egg (tamago) salad sandwich. Food-obsessed folks like myself always keep a careful eye out for new options, so I was all-in when Tammie Teclemariam at New York magazine wrote about Postcard, a weeks-old bakery from the owners of Nami Nori.

This West Village spot is tiny, with some indoor and outdoor seating, and its bright-red interior holds a display case filled with treats like very good sesame-miso chocolate chip cookies and hojicha chocolate cake. But you’re here for the sandos: a chicken katsu version, the aforementioned egg salad and three seasonal fruit sandos. The egg salad is dead simple: chunks of hard-boiled egg mixed with buttercup-yellow yolks all tied together with Kewpie mayo. My only note: It could use black pepper! But what stands out here is that the bread is gluten-free, and you can buy them by the half. (Why aren’t more shops like this?) I see this as an ideal destination for a quick but satisfying snack (and a boba tea) when you’re on the go.

31 Carmine Street (Bleecker Street)

If you have a little more time to linger, I recently spent a lovely afternoon on the stylish back patio of Taku Sando, a restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that opened back in November from the owners of Takumen in Long Island City, Queens. That chic patio is an extension of an equally chic restaurant, where pork katsu, chicken katsu, korokke and egg salad sandos share a menu with a Caesar-ish salad made with milk bread croutons. Ribbon “fries” are served in a paper bag, and of course there’s a natural wine menu. (When in Greenpoint …)

I was particularly taken with the pork katsu (or tonkatsu) sando because, 1) Bull-Dog sauce is my religion and, 2) I love a pork cutlet. The acidic karashi mustard mayo made it an immediate hit in my book. If you’re looking for a new restaurant at the corner of casual and fancy, Taku Sando is it.

29 Greenpoint Avenue (West Street)

And, finally, if you’re the type who wishes we had the kinds of 7-Elevens they have in Japan, then I strongly recommend dropping by Mama Yoshi Mini Mart in Ridgewood. What began as a roving pop-up at bars — once again, restaurant pop-ups are the birthplace of cool — has become a brick-and-mortar shop on a tree-lined street. Inside you’ll find pantry items (ramen, curry powder, mitsukan ajipon), cold and hot items to-go (onigiri, macaroni salad, Spam breakfast burritos), Japanese candies (no matcha KitKats, though) and a wide selection of nonalcoholic drinks.

How they’re able to fit so much into such a tiny space is beyond me, but it works. For lunch, order the chicken katsu, with a comically large cutlet nestled inside a comically small potato bread bun. But that’s not the house sando. That would be the Spam grilled cheese, served on milk bread, smothered with a combination of Cheddar and American cheeses and surrounded by a heap of ridged potato chips. It’s a perfect fusion of Japanese and American comfort food, demonstrating the best of what a good sando has to offer.

17-11 Grove Street (Cypress Avenue)

Last week, I asked Times readers to tell us about their favorite restaurants in New York City on the occasion of Pete Wells’s revised list of the 100 best restaurants in New York City. I received nearly 900 responses and narrowed those down to 25 submissions that stood out. You can check out the whole list here. It’s a truly lovely read.

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