In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
You know those people who go overseas, come home, and then feel the need to find versions of stuff they ate on their vacation? Yeah, I'm gonna be that guy today.
It's been years since I visited the Land of the Rising Sun, but the other day I had a yen for a sandwich made with the elegance and minimalism with which the Japanese seem to imbue their sushi. So I trucked it on up to 41st Street in Midtown. I knew from having worked in the neighborhood that Cafe Zaiya served the same sort of sandwiches I had eaten in Japanese cafes—notably the Andersen Cafe in Hiroshima.
These sandwiches aren't for the hearty eater. They're small, thin, and delicately layered with just a few slices of ham, a leaf or two of lettuce, a squirt of Japanese mayo, and a single slice of tomato. But if you've had a power breakfast and just need a light lunch to get you through to dinner, they'll do you right. The best part is that at $3.50, they're crazy cheap.
The truth is that it's now been so long since my trip to the Far East that the fare here brings back little in the way of flavor-memory. Instead, I appreciate the precision with which the perfectly square sandwiches (they're made with Japanese shokupan) are cut into thirds and packed into their plastic take-out boxes.
There are other options besides the ham sandwich — tuna salad, egg salad, and a BLT with an added layer of egg salad, which I also picked up on my lunch run because it looked so pretty sitting in its box:
And while you're there, you might want to pick up and try a loaf of that shokupan (Japanese white pullman-like bread). Light and soft with a freakishly uniform crumb, it makes some really great toast.
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