The Summer of the Sandwich has smoothly transitioned into fall as DC’s between-bread trend shows no signs of stopping. Case in point: Former Himitsu chefs Huy Huynh and Janny Kim are slinging milk bread sandos popularized by Japanese convenience stores at Hello Sando, a pop-up at Tiger Fork in Bladgen Alley.
“When I went to visit [Japan] for two weeks, I ate a sando every day and every night. So for two weeks, I went to 7-Eleven or Lawson and just tried all the sandos,” says Huynh. “When I ate it, it just felt comfortable to me.”
The cute sandwiches are an element of yōshoku cuisine, where western foods are adapted into the Japanese culinary canon. (The word yōshoku translates to “western food.”) Both Huynh and Kim are trained sushi chefs who have worked in Japanese restaurants, but their approach to the Instagram-friendly sandwiches is all about riffing on tradition. “All the sandwiches are almost kind of childish,” says Kim.
The first rule of sando-ing: Start with pillowy Japanese milk bread. At Hello Sando, the soft white bread comes from Annandale bakery O Bread. Sandwiches are layered with fillings that might be packed in a lunchbox: kewpie mayo egg salad, ham and cheese, and spicy chicken salad. A katsu sando is on the way. Iced yuzu matcha tea and picnic sides—think togarashi-spiked macaroni and nori potato salad—round out the line up. The rotating menu drops at 5 PM each Sunday, available for pre-order online.
Any leftover ingredients will be donated each Saturday to Err’body Eats, an organization working towards ending food insecurity in DC. For Huynh and Kim, the pop-up is ultimately the chance to reunite some of the Himitsu team amid hard times in the restaurant industry, building a kitchen environment that is as fun as the food they are creating.
“Cooking with the homies is literally all we wanted to do. There’s no turning back after that,” says Kim.
Hello Sando. 922 Blagden Aly, NW. Open for pickup Thursday to Saturday from 11 AM to 2 PM.