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Seven Standout Katsu Sandos to Try in Sydney

From the traditional to the triple-tiered, these are the best takes on the popular Japanese pork sandwich in Sydney.
By Concrete Playground
October 31, 2018
By Concrete Playground
October 31, 2018


From the traditional to the triple-tiered, these are the best takes on the popular Japanese pork sandwich in Sydney.

Sandwiches are not a traditional Japanese snack, but a dish adopted from Western cuisines and reinvented with incredibly tasty results. The tamago sando found at Japanese convenience stores is one notable result of this confluence of cultures, another is the katsu sando. It's not a new invention, supposedly it first appeared on the menu of a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei back in 1899, but the fried pork sanga is very hot right now in Sydney.

A typical katsu sando features a panko-crumbed pork cutlet sandwiched between two pieces of soft (crustless) white bread alongside cabbage, sweet tonkatsu sauce and kewpie mayo, but each version mentioned below has a slight variation. So, have a read, pick your favourite and head out for lunch — or, maybe, make your way through all seven.

  • 7

    On the corner of Oxford and Crown Streets sits an unassuming cafe. At first glance, it looks like the kind of place serving up second-rate coffees to undiscerning commuters. But, look closer and you’ll find not all is what it seems. Single O batch filter. Juicy katsu sandos. Scrambled eggs topped with edamame and wiggling bonito flakes. Sydney, meet Sandoitchi. Located in a section of Darlinghurst noticeably lacking in good coffee, especially since the closure of Edition, Sandoitchi is pairing quality cups of joe with Japanese-inflected fare worth trekking up Oxford Street on your lunch break for. If you do make said trek, order this particularly good, and slightly untraditional take, on the katsu sando. At just a $10, it’s also the cheapest on our list. Served with all the standards — crustless white bread, a hunk of panko-crusted fried pork, cabbage and tonkatsu mayo — this one also arrives on piled high with pickled carrot, American cheese and nori.

    Images: Trent van der Jagt

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  • 6

    While here we call them sangas, sarnies, sometimes even sammies, in Japan the humble white bread sandwich is known simply as a sando. Fittingly, Sando Bar, Surry Hills’ new Japanese-inspired cafe, makes a mean sandwich. The hole-in-the-wall cafe, a co-venture by Jason Ang from Tokyo Bird and head chef Naoya Shimada from Martin Place cafe Hills Bros, is doing a roaring trade for its pork katsu sandos ($14) which are — if you haven’t already worked out from Instagram — a cut above the rest. The namesake sando is made from a golden hunk of breaded pork loin layered with tangy apple fennel slaw, mustard mayo and tonkatsu sauce, served between two slices of pillowy white bread — crusts removed, of course. It’s a serious mouthful and we suggest scoffing it down quick, the meat juices start to soak into the bread after only a few minutes.

    Images: Trent ven der Jagt

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  • 5

    Tinker on your motorbike and slurp your way through bowls of ramen on the same premises at Rising Sun Workshop’s permanent Newtown digs. For the uninitiated, Rising Sun is a social enterprise that serves two purposes. On one hand, it provides its motor-revving members with a communal space for repairing and polishing up their bikes. On the other, it’s a café, serving coffee, cookies and seriously killer breakfast ramen. And, once the clock hits midday, it’s serving up some pretty killer katsu sandos, too.

    These ones, however, are more burger than sanga and come in the either more traditional pork ($15) version or the vegan eggplant take ($14). Both arrive panko-crusted on a bun with slaw and pickles.

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  • 4

    When the foodie gods close a door, they often open a window. Such is the case with Devon on Danks. After two years of serving up 63-degree eggs and 8am soft serve sundaes, the beloved Waterloo café — a spinoff of Devon Cafe in Surry Hills — ceased service in 2016. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they then added a new member to the Devon family, in Barangaroo. Devon’s second digs are located on the corner of Mercantile Walk and Scotch Row at one of Sydney’s new food hubs, The Streets of Barangaroo. This inner city cafe serves up four different katsu sandos — and none of them contain pork.

    You’ll find a breakfast-appropriate take with thick-cut bacon, fried egg, cabbage and Japanese barbecue sauce ($15); the Tom Yum Ebi Katsu ($15) with panko-crumbed prawns, tom yum mayo and chilli; and, finally, one with salmon and yuzu mayo ($14). Similar iterations of these are also available at Devon North Sydney.

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  • 3

    Helmed by former Bills head chef Kentaro (Kenny) Takayama, this Japanese fusion cafe has made its home in a Redfern terrace house on the fringe of Prince Alfred Park. Grab a spot in the front herb garden, where chefs come to pick parsley, mint and chives to order, and where you can reach down and liberally garnish your own. Start with a Mecca coffee, then dive into the katsu sando ($15), which is a monster. Made with a 200-gram pork fillet katsu, fresh cabbage, Japanese barbecue sauce and sweet mustard on thick white bread, this one is one of the largest versions you’ll find in the city. Because of it’s hefty size, it does come with a 15-minute wait-time, but we reckon it’s worth it.

    You’ll find the same monstrous katsu sando over at Oratnek’s sister cafe Cafe Kentaro in Surry Hills, too.

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  • 2

    You know how in sit-coms people will walk into coffee shops and the barista will go: “Hey Tommy — the usual?” And you know how you always sort of hope that will happen to you? Well, going to Double Cross Espresso Bar is exactly like that — the staff welcome every customer who pops in, and know several by name. The Crows Nest cafe specialises in quality coffee and a unique Japanese spin on Australian cafe food. Seating is available both inside and out, which is a perfect perch from which to people-watch during the lunch hours, which are less hectic than the mornings. At the very back of the cafe, two chefs work in a tiny kitchen. One of its popular dishes is the tonkatsu tamago sando ($13). It’s a cross between the (earlier mentioned) tamago egg sandos popular in Japanese convenience stores and the katsu sando, and features two small pork katsu rectangles wedged on a stick with kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce. And it’s delicious.

    Images: Natalie Carroll.

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  • 1

    There are sandwiches, then there are sandwiches, and then there’s Lucky Pickle. Take the sharp turn into High Holborn Street at the corner of Crown and Devonshire Streets, and you find yourself in a minuscule, hole-in-the-wall-type operation, where the staff stand behind a counter dishing out their own take on bread with fillings, and it’s a take on things that’s definitely worth trying. Opened by Tio’s bartender Arash Katrak with Anna Berry, Lucky Pickle takes the approach of simplicity — simply choose from five different sambos. The menu changes frequently, but one of the regulars is the chicken katsu ($12), served on a baguette with sesame and red cabbage, as well as the traditional Japanese tonkatsu sauce.

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