Thursday, May 10, 2012

Foumami's Chicken Katsu Sandwich

Why do we love sandwiches so much? Because they're amazing, that's why. They offer the best way to simultaneously deliver a symphony of flavor, perfectly dictated by the person that created them. When sandwiches house high quality, true to flavor ingredients that complement each other, and can be eaten gracefully without spilling all over the place and soiling one's fingers, palms and wrists, you've got a real winner. Even though they have a wealth of flavor, they're never stuffy. It's really quite amazing, if you think about it. A great sandwich spells a great day out enjoying yourself, or perhaps more importantly a bit of an oasis in an otherwise stuffy, can't breathe sort of work day. You know the feeling. Those few signature sandwiches that somebody really put a lot of heart and soul into.
Chips, sandwich, pickle
One of these perfect sandwiches has received rave reviews for about the past year in Boston. Foumami is located in one of those fancy pants office buildings at the corner of Franklin and High Streets. While there are other joints that received a bit of praise after opening in a similar time frame, the lines at those places have diminished, and Foumami has retained a now rightfully called loyal following. They deserve it too. The entrepreneurial owner is there every day, calling to customers that their orders are ready. And the sandwiches are the right combination of Asian fusion, great, interesting bread, and skillfully prepared and combined ingredients. 
Chinese New Year sandwich
I've tried three of their sandwiches so far. The first was a Chinese New Year special with spicy, slow cooked barbecue pork, and a red cabbage and carrot slaw. While it was tasty, and received rave reviews from friends and colleagues, it lacked one element of the ultimate sandwich. It was super messy. Sauce from the pork and slaw dripped down my arms like each stream was running a race. Maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole. But still, it wasn't a dainty sandwich.
Ribeye sandwich
The second sandwich I'm familiar with was far less messy. The grilled ribeye sandwich was scrumptious with savory, thin sliced beef, a few leaves of romaine and the "almost always a good idea" generous heap of sweet, sauteed onions. This is a sandwich that every dad on the planet, whether cautious with exotic foods or not, would devour and ask for another only to get "no no" looks from hi wife. It's sweet, salty and savory with the only truly exotic element being that of the bread...and the bread at Foumami can do no wrong. A very nice sandwich, but perhaps too tame to be granted a gold star in the world of rare, very special sandwiches.
The amazing chicken katsu sandwich
The third sandwich is the one that I have found myself drawn to every single time since trying it. I can't seem to tear myself from ordering that sandwich, because if I order something else to try something new, then damn, despite how great it was, I still wouldn't have my beloved chicken katsu sandwich. If you've ever been to Japan, or eaten at a reputable Japanese restaurant, you know that their fried chicken is not like our fried chicken. When served as a cutlet with the traditional panko coating, it's crispy and crunches on the outside only to give way to juicy, tender and flavorful white meat. It's truly delicious. Combined with the crunch of crisp, slightly bitter cabbage, then umami slices of tomato stacked in a single layer, and a drizzle of the sticky sweet, tangy with vinegar dark brown katsu sauce, you really have a winner. The sandwich would not be appropriately matched with a fluffy bun. Instead, the signature shao bing bread that they use for all the Foumami sandwiches is perfect. It's chewy and also soaks up just the right amount of sauce. The cabbage also acts as a block so that each bite is neat, not sloppy and runny. Neatly sliced in half, you have a real treat on your hands, with each chomp of chewy thin bread, and the symphony of salty, sweet, fresh and crunchy. I wish I had one right now.
I sincerely hope that Foumami keeps it's attention to detail and steadfast grasp on quality intact. I always look forward to a lunch where I can run out and grab a perfect sandwich. Don't you?

Foumami magic
225 Franklin Street  Boston, MA 02110
(617) 426-8858

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