You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!
With loads of other tasty, portable alternatives, Japan hasn’t embraced the sandwich like other countries have. Sure, there are sandwiches readily available at any convenience store…but they aren’t any good. The most common sandwich found chilling alongside the rice balls consists of ham, too much mayonnaise, and limp lettuce sandwiched between two whiter than white pieces of bread. Another conbini favorite is the egg salad sandwich…again with too much mayonnaise on white bread.
Living in rural Japan, the only option to satisfying my cravings for a good sandwich has been to 1) make it myself or 2) trek 2.5 hours all the way to the nearest Subway. Driven by my cravings, I decided to stop by Subway after a business trip. I usually don’t like Subway sandwiches, but I have no room to be picky nowadays.
When I first arrived to Subway in Izumo (Shimane prefecture), the first thing I noticed was the variety of sauces offered. I was expecting the plain sauces of American Subway. You know, mayo, mustard, ranch, maybe even honey mustard. But in Japan, Subway offers up some very interesting choices. Aside from the original oil and vinegar, they had Caesar dressing, horseradish sauce, chili tomato sauce, wasabi and soy sauce, basil mayonnaise, “balsamico” sauce, and plain old mayonnaise. For cheeses they offer “natural slice cheese,” “cream type cheese,” and mascarpone cheese. The adventurous can even add shrimp or potato salad to their sandwich.
My husband ordered a roast beef sandwich with thick cuts of actual beef, not the processed stuff. It looked so good on the poster, but landed up being quite dry. The horseradish sauce that accompanied it was delicious, but couldn’t save the parched beef.
I thoroughly enjoyed my turkey sandwich (made with processed meat) topped with “the works” and pesto mayonnaise. My favorite sandwich in the entire world is a plain old turkey sandwich, but trying to find one in Japan is a challenge. I was savoring every salty bite.
My biggest fear was that the bread wasn’t going to be good. However, the bread options were the same as in the States and I didn’t hesitate to order my sandwich on honey oat bread, my favorite.
I wanted some chips to go alongside (or inside!) my sandwich, but Subway in Japan only offers potato wedges. You have your choice of regular, barbecue, cheese, and basil flavor. We went for the cheese-flavored wedges, and although the seasoning was decent, they weren’t freshly made and had been sitting under the heating lamps for a long time. They were lukewarm at best and not exactly tasty.
The process for ordering a sandwich is exactly the same and when asking for all toppings on your sandwich, you still say, “give me ‘the works’,” but in Japanese of course. Everything from the yellow, green, and white brand colors to the cold cut coolers is the same as in the US.
I’m not a big Subway fan, but being so far from a decent sandwich shop, I’ll take what I can get. For me, the yellow and green glow of the Subway sign is a beacon of hope in my quest to find a delicious cold-cut-filled sandwich in Japan.
Michelle is originally from California, but currently lives in the tiny fishing village of Chibu, one of the Oki islands in Japan. Being one of two foreigners living in an island village of a little over 600 people presents many adventures. Come back next week for a new article featuring the interesting and bizarre things she comes across in her life in rural Japan. Once a week not enough? Check out her blog, You, Me, And A Tanuki, for photographs and even more articles.
We’re still looking for more unique and interesting stories from Asia to share with the world, so drop us a line if you’d like to have your own blog featured on RocketNews24.
Images: Subway Japan