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Five OTT Sandwiches to Eat for Lunch If You're Tired of Sad Desk Salads

Swap those soggy leaves for a sky-high chilli chicken sambo or a roll filled with gravy and golden-roasted pork belly.
By Samantha Teague
May 21, 2021
By Samantha Teague
May 21, 2021


in partnership with

Swap those soggy leaves for a sky-high chilli chicken sambo or a roll filled with gravy and golden-roasted pork belly.

Despite their appearance as a fairly humble food item, sandwiches are, in fact, highly contentious. Twitter battles have erupted over whether they should be cut diagonally or straight down the middle (diagonally, of course). Physical fights occurred during 2019's 'chicken sandwich war'. And sambo fans are known to regularly line up for hours to try Katz's Delicatessen's legendary pastrami sandwich in New York City. With that in mind, we've taken the following task very seriously.

To help ensure your midweek lunch is significantly more impressive than that sad dask salad you're contemplating for the third day in a row, we've scoured the city to find the tastiest things between two slices of bread. Together with American Express, we've rounded up six OTT sandwiches, from a sky-high chilli chicken sambo to a roll filled with gravy and golden-roasted pork belly.


  • 5

    Oxford Street’s Mr Crackles has been a go-to for late-night (or early morning) eats for almost ten years. But, its popularity hasn’t been fuelled solely by its primo location alongside many once-busy nightclubs and opening hours (until 2am on Friday and Saturday). No, it’s thanks to its golden, melt-in-your mouth pork belly.

    The chefs slow-braise the pork for ten hours before roasting it to get that crunchy-as-caramel crackling. The pork is available by itself and on a range of rolls and salads, but if you’re heading here for a midweek lunch, you may as well go all in and order The Bogan. It sees a soft bread roll filled with generous servings of cheese, fries, gravy and hunks of the signature pork belly. Excessive? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

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  • 4

    Part of the Chat Thai empire, which currently spans eight Sydney restaurants, Haymarket’s Boon Cafe features produce from the team’s certified organic Boon Luck Farm in the Northern Rivers region. So, you know what you’re eating here is (mostly) good for you and the planet. The menu spans congee, noodles, som tum (green papaya salad) and croissants with pandan custard, but our go-to for an OTT lunch is the chicken, squid and holy basil sandwich.

    Constructed from spicy larb-like chicken and holy basil mince and strips of squid layered between toasted sourdough, then topped with a fried egg, this is a beast best tackled with a knife and fork. If you’re feeling particularly virtuous, you can get the same combo of ingredients atop a rice bowl.

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  • 3

    Sydney legend Lee Tran Lam is a food writer, a podcaster, a radio presenter and a vegetarian. So, her eponymous sandwich at Enmore bakery Saga doesn’t contain meat, but broccoli. Broccoli? In a sandwich? Trust us, if you haven’t yet jumped on the broccoli sambo train, now is the time.

    At Andy Bowdy’s Saga, the sandwich contains the aforementioned vegetable charred, plus fermented chilli mayo, salty capers and plenty of melted caciocavallo (a southern Italian cheese), all toasted between two slices of spelt sourdough. It’s served with a slice of grilled lemon, too, which you can squeeze on for a zesty hit. Next on your broccoli sambo hit list: Brickfields Bakery.

    Image: Kimberley Low

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  • 2

    Full disclosure: South Dowling Sandwiches is on regular rotation in the Concrete Playground office — for good reason. These sandwiches are big. Really big. And great value for money. Plus, you can get them delivered if you’re short on time.

    One of our favourites is The Biatch. It’s a multi-storey sanga with layers of chilli chicken, red pesto, herb mayo, crunchy lettuce, cabbage, pickles, punchy rocket, bocconcini and the best caramelised carrots you’ll find in Sydney. This sandwich can be ordered on white or brown bread and must be eaten with two hands. You can also order a chilli chicken salad if you feel so inclined, but if you go down this route we suggest adding extra carrots.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan

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  • 1

    Everyone has their reasons for visiting The Grounds of Alexandria. Some go to explore its latest immersive installation. Some go to sip cocktails under the fairy lights. Others go to eat cakes in the garden. While all valid reasons, we think you should go to eat the hot smoked salmon sandwich. Available to order takeaway from the cafe, the sandwich sees thin slices of rye sourdough topped with a very generous pile of hot smoked salmon, dill and capers, as well as layers of creamy ricotta and avocado. If you manage to eat this one with just your hands and mouth, hats off to you, but we suggest grabbing a knife and fork to make things a little easier.

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Helping out never tasted so good — shop small to support the local stores that make Sydney so great. To learn about American Express and the Shop Small initiative, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots.

Top image: Cassandra Hannagan

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