Saint Dreux, a Japanese-inspired coffee and katsu sando bar in Melbourne's CBD, exudes Japanese minimalism. With a concise menu of five sandwiches, castella cakes, pastries and Tokyo's Onibus coffee served in a modern monochromatic fit-out, it's the kind of place that could even spark joy for Marie Kondo.
The sandos are cut with laser precision, as are the varying castella (Japanese sponge cakes), packaging is simple and even the ceramics are polished to perfection. Inspired by the vending machines and convenience stores of Japan, the Saint Dreux team, who is also behind Slater Street Bench and 580 Bench, wanted to make the humble katsu sandwich a hero here in Melbourne.
"You could get them from vending machines, trains and restaurants. They're absolutely everywhere [and] we became obsessed…" said co-owner Joshua Crasti, who owns Saint Dreux and Bench along with Nick Chen, Frankie Tan and Claye Tobin.
While, traditionally, katsu sandos are made with soft (crustless) white bread, cabbage, sweet tonkatsu sauce, kewpie mayo and panko-crumbed pork, the Saint Dreux team has widened the range to include wagyu beef, ebi (prawn), tori (chicken), tamago (egg) and the classic tonkatsu with Kurobuta Berkshire pork.
Think white bread sandwiches must equal cheap? Think again. While most of the sandos sit around the $15 mark, the wagyu version will set you back a whole $28 — which might just make it Melbourne's most expensive sandwich. Despite this — or because of it — the sandwiches are selling out pretty early most days, so we suggest swinging by early if you want to snag
House-made castella cakes are also available in original, black sesame, matcha and hōjicha (Japanese green tea) flavours, as well as croissants and an assortment of pastries by local Bakemono Bakers.
Saint Dreux is the latest vendor to join St Collins Lane's contemporary food hub and sits neatly amongst a range of pan-Asian fare including Sushi Boto (where sushi is delivered to you via boat instead of train), Poke Workshop and Think Asia as well as a couple of espresso bars.
Images: Bekon Media.