All hail the age of the single-subject restaurant. Whether it be grilled cheeses, french fries or cookie dough, spots all around the city are simplifying and focusing on executing one item well. The recently-opened Don Wagyu is doing just that, serving up only three variations of the classic wagyu katsu sando, made up of a deep-fried, panko-crusted piece of wagyu sandwiched between crustless white bread.
The extremely photogenic Japanese import has been making its way to menus across the city, from a classic wagyu number at SakaMai to a version with Iberico pork at Ferris. I mean, how could you not love it? It’s deep fried, doused in an umami-rich sauce and served on white bread. It’s an equation for a stellar sandwich.
At Don Wagyu, you’ve only got one choice to make: what kind of meat do you want? But first, let's talk about wagyu. Wagyu beef is a highly regarded and expensive type of Japanese beef (to qualify as wagyu it must come from one of four types of cows native to Japan) known for its high fat content and buttery flavor. Japanese farmers pamper the hell out of these cattle with special diets and even massages (I know, sign me up), which is why they’re pricier to raise. That cost eventually trickles down to the consumer, which is how you end up with a $180 sandwich.
OK, back to the sandos.
Low on the totem pole is the Californian Washugyu, a cross between Black Angus and the Japanese Tajima that rings in at $28. This affordable (relatively speaking) option makes for a solid steak sandwich, though you have to be pretty aggressive when you eat it since the meat gives a bit of a fight as you chew your way through it.
The mid-tier option is the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu, imported from Japan, which meets the highest grade a cut of wagyu can get (A5), based on its high fat content and marbling. While $80 seems pricey, that’s about what you’ll spend on other sandwiches that use the same quality of beef. And let me say, it’s worth every penny. Each tender bite dripping with sweet soy sauce (tare) will affirm your purchase.
If you have stacks on stacks you’re looking to spend, the Ozaki stands at a whopping $180 for a sandwich. The wagyu for this sandwich comes from a single farm in Japan and only five cattle a month are shipped to the U.S., exclusively for Don Wagyu. People throw around melt-in-your-mouth occasionally when describing steak, but this literally MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH. In comparison to the middle option, the fattiness and tenderness are on another level.
Add on the nori-dusted french fries (major sour cream and onion vibes here) and pickle that come with each sando, and you’ve got yourself a meal. While I was worried that these sandwiches would all taste the same, just with different price tags, the tiers align well with what you’re getting. And just as I wouldn’t splurge on a $80 or $180 sandwich often (though some of the neighborhood finance bros may), it’s no different from the occasional purchase of caviar or a fancy bottle of wine. So, you do you—we’re only here to judge the restaurants.