Chicago, IL

Where to Find Delicious Japanese Sandwiches in Chicago

Brandon Wang

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Japanese food is everywhere around America and it is actually pretty rare to go to a city without at least a few decent Japanese restaurants. Despite the number of Japanese restaurants, one specific part of Japanese cuisine that is missing are all the sandwiches that Japan is well known for. If you are looking for sushi or ramen, you probably already know a few places or have a favorite establishment already. On the other hand, if you are looking for a restaurant that specializes in japanese sandwiches, you will probably have a much harder time finding quality establishments.

Luckily, there is one relatively new shop in Chicago that has been very underrated and somehow has snuck under the radar of the public. That place is Cat-Su Sando, a nice play on words for the most well known Japanese katsu sando. Cat-Su Sando is not just some random restaurant that popped up in the middle of the pandemic. Cat-Su stands out from the plethora of new restaurants due to the star lineup of chefs that run the restaurant, most notably two chefs that pivoted directly from Blackbird, and previously Saison, to Cat-Su.

Blackbird was a Michelin starred restaurant located in Chicago but was one of the many establishments that were unable to fight off the struggle of operating during the pandemic and was forced to close its doors. Making the most of these unfortunate circumstances, two chefs from Blackbird, Shawn Clendening and Will Schlaeger, went on to put their passion into Cat-Su Sando.

As Cat-Su is still relatively new and still in the developing stages, the restaurant itself is still in the form of a pop up shop with the goal to eventually transform into a fully functioning physical establishment. The pop up shop is easily accessible through many various delivery options and has quickly risen in popularity throughout the latter half of the pandemic.

On the menu at Cat-Su, there are obviously a variety of sandwich options but also a few additional Japanese dishes. In terms of their sandwich selection, their most popular menu item is the Cat-Su Sando which is a traditional Japanes katsu sandwich. Another very popular option is their Cat-Su Club which has ingredients like grilled chicken, spam, bacon, provolone, and spam jam. One of the reasons why Japanese sandwiches stand out amongst the rest of the comparisons is usually the bread that the sandwiches are made on. At Cat-Su Sando, this is no different. All of the sandwiches are built on top of their milk bread which if you have not tasted before is the creamiest and fluffiest sandwich bread. Milk bread puts wonder bread to shame.

On the other parts of the menu, there are also various items like yakitori (grilled skewers) and onigiri (rice balls). These are also very traditional Japanese foods that can commonly be found in the same places where you might be able to get a sandwich in Japan. One common ingredient that you might find in a huge. portion of Cat-Su Sando's menu is spam. The chefs at Cat-Su really love this ingredient and think that it has a bad name in many American kitchens. Despite this, spam is an ingredient that is very commonly used in a lot of Asian cooking and as such is presented in a new light at Cat-Su Sando.

Both the chef owners of Cat-Su Sando have a strong desire to share their appreciation towards the Japanese culinary universe and share it with a larger community. They have both taken great enjoyment in Cat-Su and will definitely see more success in the future.

Cat-Su Sando can be found located at 2759 W. Agusta Blvd in Humboldt Park.

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