What makes a sandwich great? Quality bread, certainly. Ingredients that play well together, acid cutting through creaminess, meat cut with pickle. And if it's a toastie, the perfect degree of doneness, snatched from the grill after the bread has become crisp and golden and just before it begins to char.
All of the sandwiches on the short menu at Indonesian sandwich joint Warkop meet that bill, and ex-Navi chef Barry Susanto has put a lot of thought into each one. The most popular is the chicken, marinated in Taliwang spices and served on sourdough with tomato, rocket and cheese. It's a fantastic sandwich, the piquant shredded chicken contrasting beautifully with the sweetness of the tomato and the peppery bite of rocket. It's grilled perfectly, with a gorgeous caramel colour on the bread that stops just short of char. Each of the sandwiches on the menu is $15.
But our favourite was the pork belly, the fattiness of the meat complemented by shallot, makrut lime leaves, lemongrass and tomato. The pork is so sweet and creamy it has no need for cheese, standing up to its accompaniment all on its own. The bread is crisp but with enough structural integrity to hold its filling without disintegrating. It's the kind of sandwich that makes you desperately sad for all the wasted potential in all of those pathetic cold sandwiches at your desk. It's not huge, but it is filling. If you want something extra, though, you can get a half-serve of the salad of the day on the side of any sandwich for an extra $5. Or you can have a full serve of the salad on its own for $14.
The third sandwich on the menu is the beef, and honestly, it's difficult to pick a favourite from the three. The beef is a spin on a Reuben, with rendang sauce accompanying pastrami on rye with Jack cheese and the satisfying snap of pickle. The rendang adds warmth to the usually vinegary Reuben, and it makes us wonder why every Reuben maker doesn't add it.
There are also breakfast items available, in the form of kaya (coconut spread) on toasted brioche, a smoked salmon bagel with chilli and salmon roe, or gado-gado (Indonesian salad with peanuts) on a Turkish roll. These are available all day, with the sandwiches on the bill from 11am. The obvious choice to wash down your food, no matter what time of day it is, is coffee, which comes from Dukes and is strong and delicious.
With just one table inside and three small tables outside, Warkop is not the place to bring the entire company for lunch if you work at, say, a huge bank. Takeaway orders are served through a window onto the street, though true sandwich aficionados will want to nab one of the tables and enjoy toasted sandwich perfection, straight off the grill.