And they’ve even got a special surprise in place of ordinary bread.
Despite being just one train stop away from Shibuya Station, the Tokyo neighborhood of Daikanyama feels completely different from its famous neighbor. Whereas the quintessential Shibuya moments are throwing yourself into the mass of people swarming across the Shibuya Scramble intersection or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with dozens of other people in front of the statue of Hachiko before hitting the bars, Daikanyama is more a place to go when you want to comb back alley boutiques for a pair of designer jeans or jaunty hat imported from some low-volume overseas haberdasher.
And now Daikanyama is also the place to go if you want to eat a matcha green tea tuna sandwich that even has one more surprise waiting in its ingredient list.
Not far from Daikanyama Station is Soso, a stylish restaurant that serves its lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 in the afternoon, and its dinner options from 6 to midnight. From 2:30 to 5, the restaurant goes into what it calls “cafe time,” serving pretty much just drinks and desserts. There are two sandwiches which are available during Soso’s cafe time, though.
Looking at the photos, I at first thought the one on the left featured a generous portion of guacamole. But it turns out that green pate-like filling isn’t mashed avocados, but tuna mixed with matcha green tea!
Tuna sandwiches are pretty popular in Japan, but usually the flakes of fish are mixed with mayonnaise, just like they are in the West. Realizing that much of my life had been leading up to this moment of destiny, I stepped inside, took a seat, and placed my order.
While there’s definitely a bit of zaniness to the idea of green tea tuna, Soso’s interior is anything but wacky, with soothing colors and simple, uncluttered decor (just the sort of thing to put your mind at ease if you’re feeling a twinge of anxiety about the prospect of eating matcha tuna).
The food’s presentation was as elegant as the restaurant’s interior, and the server laid down a plate with my 980-yen (US$8.90) sandwich accompanied by some mixed greens, a sliced cherry tomato, and a scoop of Japanese-style potato salad (which is less watery than the American kind).
As for the sandwich…
…it’s about as green on the inside as you could imagine, with a few pieces of red cabbage being just about the only non-verdant element between the bread. Soso’s chefs mix the tuna with matcha powder and syrup, giving it a captivating color and faint aroma of tea.
Getting back to the bread, you might have noticed that it’s unusually thick. That’s because the top and bottom halves of the sandwich are actually dorayaki, palm-sized circular cakes that are usually filled with sweet bean paste to make one of Japan’s favorite traditional sweets. For the matcha tuna sandwich (which contains no sweet beans), the dorayaki serve as the bun.
Without sweet beans, the dorayaki taste like ever-so-slightly-sweet pancakes, and have a similar fluffy texture.
Surprisingly, for as dramatic as the matcha tuna looks, the flavor isn’t all that shocking. The mix of matcha powder and syrup eliminates the mayonnaise-based sourness you’ll find in normal tuna sandwiches, replacing it with a very mild sweetness and just a hint of bitter tea as you chew a bite. It actually makes for a tremendously satisfying combination with the subtle sweetness of the dorayaki. In another contrast to its appearance, it’s not all that heavy either, and polishing it off, along with the accompanying salad, actually left me feeling surprisingly full but not at all bloated.
In short, the matcha tuna sandwich is something I never knew I wanted, but my life now feels richer thanks to that newfound knowledge. Oh, and if you’re intrigued by the idea of a dorayaki sandwich, but match tuna doesn’t get your mouth watering, Soso also has a tsukune (ground chicken) dorayaki sandwich, pictured above, that’s also available during cafe time.
Soso / 楚々
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu Nishi 1-34-28, Daikanyama First Building 1st floor
Open 11:30 a.m.-midnight
Follow Casey on Twitter as he continues to eat as much matcha as possible,