When consumers see a sandwich being sold for $180, they’re likely to ask how a sandwich — served on white bread, no less — could possibly be worth the price. When restaurant owners see the same sandwich, they have a slightly different question: Why am I not charging that much?
Inspired by recent publicity surrounding the steak sandwich at New York City’s Don Wagyu, Sean Park of Kanpai in Mount Pleasant has come up with his own luxury sando, to use the phrase that prevails in Japan. It doesn’t cost $180. But at $8 an ounce, Park admits the standard 5-ounce portion is “not going to be like an everyday lunch.”
In traditional Japanese fashion, Park trims the crusts off his room-temperature sandos and sizes them to dainty dimensions at odds with the assertive richness of the wagyu. (The meat is prepared katsu-style, meaning it's thinly breaded with panko crumbs before cooking). Each slice of milk bread is smeared with sweet onion jam.
“Very minimalist,” Park says.
For Americans accustomed to asking Subway’s sandwich artists to pile an array of fixings atop their roast beef, Park fills out the plate with pickles, onions, cheese and black olive molasses.
Of course, the cheese is Cypress Grove’s bloomy rind Humboldt Fog and the pearl onions are pickled.
“You know, Charleston has a high palate,” Park says. “If people on Wall Street are paying $100 for lunch …”
As Park sees it, Charlestonians are inevitably going to develop a taste for opulent sandwiches, or at least the experience of splurging on them.
“So why shouldn’t I be the first to serve it?” he says.