These days, the humble sandwich is really not so humble anymore. Restaurants all over the world, both casual and fine-dining, are coming up with a whole range of interesting and exciting fillings to go on all kinds of different breads. The folks that brought us The Mac Attack, The Battle of the Balls and Reinventing Salads have come up with another fun event, this time all about sandwiches. What’s The Ultimate Sandwich is a month-long campaign that features eight of Hong Kong’s favourite restaurants, each presenting their interpretation of the “ultimate sandwich”.
I was invited to a media preview to sample each of these eight sandwiches last week to see which restaurant I thought deserves the title of Hong Kong’s ultimate sandwich. Interestingly, six out of the eight restaurants think beef makes the ultimate sandwich, and not one uses crispy bacon, or prosciutto, or even avocado in their sandwiches, ingredients that I would most definitely put in my ultimate sandwich!
From 12th September to 10th October, the sandwiches will be available at their respective restaurant and also on Deliveroo. The restaurant that sells the most sandwiches during that period will be named the winner.
Here are my thoughts on the eight sandwiches, in the order in which I tried them:
The Gentleman’s Sandwich by Beef & Liberty (HK$118)
Newly appointed Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky described this sandwich using a phrase I’m not sure I can repeat! Let’s just say his combination of insanely tender Cape Grim sirloin steak, English smoked cheddar, shallots, garlic, Dijon mustard, wholegrain mustard and fresh herbs, sandwiched between two slices of buttered and fried sourdough was definitely a crowd-pleaser. Media votes put this sandwich as third place.
3/F, California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central
Ultimate Smoked Pastrami & Cheese by Morty’s Delicatessen ($118)
This monster of a sandwich is made with layer upon layer of 45-days cured smoked brisket, smoked bacon, cheddar, Thousand Island dressing and a fried egg on rye bread. For me, it was a little too much and I would never be able to finish a whole one of these sandwiches, but it seems the men in the crowd had a different opinion.
Shop 2-14, LG/F, Jardine House
Shanghai Dip by Second Draft ($98)
Chef May Chow of Little Bao has recently opened this beer-centric bar in Tai Hang. Naturally, her sandwich therefore had to tie in with the beer theme, consisting of 24-hour braised pork leg with Stonecutter Scottish ale pork jus and cucumber pickles on ciabatta. The idea was to dip the sandwich in the accompanying jus, take a bite and chase it with a swig of beer. I can’t drink beer, but appreciated the flavour it gave to the pork and I proudly double- and even triple-dipped. Media votes put this sandwich as first place.
G/F, Little Tai Hang, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang
Steak in Knead by KNEAD ($78)
Described by a few of the men in the room as “too healthy”, this was actually the kind of sandwich I would order, as it was fresh, simple and yes, I suppose, a little healthier than others. Made with tender rib eye steak, chilli onion jam, roasted garlic aioli, tomatoes, rocket and chimichurri, this sandwich’s only downside was that the ciabatta was a little too crispy and almost cut the side of my mouth.
G/F, 28 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan
Bulgogi Roast Beef Sandwich by Jinjuu ($190)
There was so much flavour going on in this open-faced sandwich. The juicy bulgogi-glazed roast beef, crispy shallots, pickled jalapeños and plum tomatoes produced a lovely, rich and spicy combination, yet the sourdough bread wasn’t solid enough to hold all the juices and quickly fell apart.
U/G, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central
Straccetti di Manzo by Posto Pubblico ($119)
I was quite surprised that Posto’s veal meatballs weren’t considered worthy enough for the restaurant’s ultimate sandwich. Nevertheless, the OBE beef sub with sweet gorgonzola, artichoke pesto, anchovy aioli and rocket definitely did excite my taste buds. The thin, rare slices of beef were super tender and I really enjoyed the artichoke pesto, but I found the anchovy aioli a little too salty.
G/F, 28 Elgin Street, Central
Beef Bourguignon Banh Mi by Mrs. Pound ($120)
This sandwich combines a classic French dish with Vietnamese street food, creating a lovely east meets west style sandwich. The boeuf bourguignon was rich enough, made the more so by the addition of chicken liver pate, and then nicely balanced with pickled vegetables and fresh coriander, all piled high in a Vietnamese-style baguette.
6 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan
HA-HA Piss Off! by Bread & Beast ($128)
The final sandwich of the night was presented by the hosts of the event, Bread & Beast. This was arguably one of the most creative sandwiches, in part because it was the only one to use seafood. Beautifully juicy mantis shrimp came battered in Tsing Tao tempura, teamed with sweet shrimp paste mayo, ginger salt and chilli slaw, piled high in a ciabatta. This, too, came served with a ginger salt-rimmed beer to accompany it. Again, I passed on the beer, but the sandwich was up there amongst my favourites and was voted second place by the media.
G/F, 3 Swatow Street, Wan Chai
At the end of the night, we cast our votes for who we felt deserved to win. We were allowed to vote more than once, so I gave equal votes to: Beef & Liberty, KNEAD and Bread & Beast.
Who do you think makes the Ultimate Sandwich? Try them all between 12th September and 10th October either in the restaurants or from the comfort of your home (or office) by ordering from Deliveroo.
What will the folks at The Forks and Spoons think of next?!