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

6 Mar

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.

Ah, but here’s the sandwich.

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.

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.

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

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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