The Sandwich Smith – Is Little Tokyo Ready for a $15 Sandwich Lunch?

6 Mar

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Little Tokyo has been a neighborhood in mourning. Since the Spice Table stopped lunch sevice, the neighborhood has been bereft of a truly great sandwich. Mike’s Deli came to try to fill the void with quantity, but the quality angle was still lacking.

The Sandwich Smith is a sandwich/salad place by day, and farm to table restaurant by night (as the Fickle). Just opened last week, it makes for a pretty impressive stretch of eats within a stone’s throw of the MOCA — the Spice Table, Chado Tea Room, Daikokuya, and Shin Sen Gumi.

The space is beautiful. Faux industrial/loft style with all the current design memes: subway tiles, Edison bulbs, faux reclaimed woods.

Two major complaints:

1) the ordering system is ridiculous. Like Mike’s, they have a checklist that allows you to customize every aspect of a sandwich — bread, protein, sauce, 3 add-ins (mostly veg), cheese, step-up options, and whether you want them to grill the final product. You see people mill around with puzzled looks and spend 5 minutes putting their orders together. They realize their mistake and said they will be introducing recommended combinations soon.

2) The sandwiches start at $9 and go to $13. Reasonable upgrades can make it $15. With their homemade chips ($2.50) and their homemade lemonade (chips or a side salad with a drink are a $3.50 upgrade), you can easily hit $20.

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Ah, but here’s the sandwich.

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I got the fried chicken on a French roll with pickled onions, sweet and sour slaw, tomatoes, habanero lime aioli, and goat cheese, grilled. I sat there fumbling with the menu when the chef came by. I told him I wanted to do a Bakesale Betty style fried chicken. He helped me pick a few things.

It was very good. The pickled onions and aioli were really interesting. The fry on the chicken was good, although the chicken was just a little dry (probably from sitting a bit, not fried to order). It was a lot of flavor and made me want to try it again, tweaking the combinations.

A couple minor quibbles, which may be grand opening pains. The chicken was a little bit salty. I talked to a friend who had the sandwich on a different day than I did, and and she thought the same thing. Everybody I talked to also thought the whole thing was messy. Not the worst thing in the world for a sandwich, but it is at least a 3 napkin sandwich.

Also, the bread is ok but not the best. I’m guessing they don’t bake their own bread. Oh well.

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I got the combo with the spinach, corn, lentils, onions salad. It was ok. A little boring, the dressing could use some work. But the ingredients were fresh and makes me at least hopeful that future side salads will be good.

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The lemonade is surprisingly good. Fresh squeezed, made in-house, I recommend giving it a try.

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They also have a limited selection of baked goods, including a pretty good salty chocolate chip cookie and something that looks like a grown-up Nutter Butter.

I’m definitely down to try more of their sandwiches. Just have to save up my pennies.

The Sandwich Smith
362 East 1st Street
Los Angeles CA 90012
Tel: 213-628-1888
Fax: 213-628-1988
Open 7 days 11-4:30PM

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