Sapporo is home to a staggering variety of restaurants. As the birthplace of miso ramen, Sapporo’s tiny, traditional noodle shops feel like an element of the city’s critical infrastructure. Meanwhile, its status as a major urban centre and travel hot-spot invites international cuisine of the highest calibre. However, if you’re looking for a little slice of comfort, a trip to Hasamiya Sandwich Works is in order.
In Japan, small sandwiches are a staple of cafes and convenience stores, as European-style deli shops are non-existent. More often than not, the sandwiches are variations on the classic ham and cheese on spongey white bread, served crustless and cut into triangles. Also popular are the hot sandwich variety (on menus they are often listed as ‘hot sand’, an unfortunate result of Japanese language clipping and translation), which are made using a triangular sandwich press. However, any variation beyond these two similar styles is considered adventurous and foreign. With that in mind, imagine the excitement upon discovering a painted storefront sign boldly stating ‘Sandwich. Reuben. Cheese. Sloppy Joe. Salads. Sides. Sweets.’
Immediately upon entering, memories of New York spring to mind. The walls are a simple white, and all of the signage is in hand-lettered English. A chalk signboard over the front counter lists the current special of the month next to the words “Eat or we both starve.” Hasamiya’s open kitchen area encompasses two-thirds of the single-room shop, with the majority of the kitchenware and fixings made of utilitarian stainless steel. Seating consists of eight stools at the wooden side counter, which feels sufficient considering the take-out nature of a sandwich shop located next to a park. A mix of classic rock and hip-hop plays from invisible speakers.
Much like the hole-in-the-wall ramen shops which dot the city map, Hasamiya Sandwich is a small, family-run affair. The owner, who introduces himself by the nickname ‘Toasty’, runs the kitchen with his wife, while their daughter handles the orders and till. Toasty, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as his shop, speaks natural English in a laid-back manner, an ability he’s honed over decades of travel between Japan and the United States. In the mid-1980s he lived in New York City as an exchange student, and he’s continued visiting ever since.
The New York influence is perhaps best experienced via Hasamiya’s excellent reuben sandwich. It is small by North American standards and it is served on the ubiquitous Japanese white bread. But while it may not have the heft of its NYC counterparts, in Sapporo the pastrami-and-kraut combination stands out as a beacon in a sea of pre-packaged 7-11 ham sandwiches. The November special, an apple and pork sandwich, proved a close second-place with its simple-but-flavourful ingredients and abundance of melted cheese. The remainder of the menu lists a variety of sandwiches including grilled-cheese variations, sloppy joes, and of course, the ham sandwich.
However, Hasamiya hasn’t limited itself to traditional creations. The highlight of the dessert menu is the Rum-Raisin Pudding Sandwich, which is a pressed hot sandwich filled with rum-soaked raisins and Hokkaido milk pudding. When we expressed our surprise and delight at the dessert sandwich, Toasty simply gave a confident smile and said “It’s good, hey?” The man makes sandwiches. It’s what he does, and he does it well.
Hasamiya Sandwich Works is located at JAPANESE ADDRESS HERE. It is open on weekdays from 7:30AM to 6PM, and on weekends from 11:30AM to 6PM. The shop is closed on Wednesdays.