Is there anything worse than an under-filled sandwich? We’re just not sure there is. That’s why we’ve dedicated this edition of our top sandwiches list to shops that understand the importance of ratio. Oh, and meat. Lots and lots of meat.
The Big Dipper: Alan Wong’s Shanghai Dip
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a bowl of pho and a French dip sandwich had a baby? No? Well, that’s exactly the thought process of Alan Wong chef Beth Cosgrove when she put this beast of a ‘wich on the lunch menu.
Named the ‘Shanghai Dip,’ rare roasted beef is coupled with pho herbs (basil, mint and cilantro), and fresh red chilies into toasted white bread. On the side is a bowl of hot five spice oxtail beef broth, into which you dip your sandwich for an ultra juicy, beefy and herbaceous bite, punctuated by kicks of chili. Two extra sauces; one ricotta lemongrass and one hoisin sriracha garnished on the plate, add extra flavor to the crusts. (RMB140)
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Pastrami Mami: Madison Kitchen
If you haven’t tried Madison Kitchen yet, now is the time. Presided over by Chef Austin Hu, this New York-style deli makes quality house-cured meats and big portions its selling point.
Resident favorites in the That’s office include the Chicken Parm (RMB70), and Kimchi Grilled Cheese (RMB55), but the true beast mode moniker belongs to The Big Girl. Packed with cola brined ham, pastrami, coleslaw, cheddar and mustard on a Kaiser roll, this enormous protein punch is pound for pound a verified heavyweight. (RMB85)
N.B. Madison Kitchen has since spawned a similar sandwich, the Pho Dip (RMB75), featuring similar kaiser roll, beef slices, onion, beansprouts, cilantro, basil, mint, hoisin sauce & sriracha, with pho-like broth to dip.
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The Casual Bruncher: Highline
Made with an M7 Angus brisket, Highline’s pastrami sandwich has both flavor and tenderness, and has quickly become a must-order on their lunch and brunch menu. Their secret? Eight hours in the smoker. Pastrami sandwich connoisseurs will notice the use of baguette rather than the customary sliced rye – but don’t worry, it’s soft enough to avoid any mouth scrapes, and more importantly, doesn’t interfere with the intense enjoyment of layer upon layer of juicy brisket.
Properly sour pickles on the side offer welcome refreshment, and we like swapping out the French fries for sweet potato ones for an extra RMB10. (RMB98)
N.N.B. Highline has also since spawned a similar sandwich, though a more classical French dip. Are we sensing a theme here?
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Rye Times: Tock’s Montreal Deli
Shanghai’s original Montreal deli, Tock’s has stood the test of time – and an acrimonious family split between proprietor Richard Tock and his nephew Brian, a part-owner who had managed the place and contributed secret spice recipes up until September 2016. The hullabaloo has since died down, Brian Tock moved onto pastrami acclaim with new deli Morty’s in Hong Kong, and Tock’s sandwiches remain as hearty as they ever were.
We say the go-to order is smoked beef sandwich on rye, in ‘monster’ size (225g). Be sure to specify you want medium-fatty pastrami – lean is too dry, and fatty is too chewy. Garnish liberally with yellow mustard and intersperse between mouthfuls of pleasingly salty, skin-on thin-cut fries. (RMB98)
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Beast from the East: Saigon Mama
These guys are known for their tasty bowls of pho, but they also happen to make a halfway authentic version of Vietnam’s other beloved lunchtime specialty: banh mi.
A vestige from the French colonization of Vietnam when baguettes became a daytime staple, Saigon Mama’s banh mi get a mention on our list by virtue of going the extra meaty yard – each has ham and house-made pork pâté in addition to a main filling of grilled chicken, pork or beef.
Add on pickled julienned carrots, cucumber, radish, and cilantro in a crunchy wholewheat baguette and you have yourself a boss lunch that’s substantial enough to keep you full for hours. Don’t forget to make use of the house hot sauce. (RMB55)
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