New Japanese-style sandwiches, MONDAYS, downtown Mountain View
Unusual savory sandwiches, simply served at moderate prices, are now available, just for Monday lunches, from a classy independent business using the facilities of Cafe Yulong (743 W Dana St off Castro, Mountain View, 650 960 1677). Some of us tried them yesterday (first day of business) and the sandwiches were both interesting and delicious.
Background: If I remember right, James and Miya Pei opened Cafe Yulong late 2002 (it became, by citywide poll, the most popular Chinese restaurant in downtown MV, unusual specialties, very fresh ingredients.) The Peis, who were restaurant veterans, discouraged their offspring from restaurant careers, almost successfully. Youngest son, though, felt the call, trained at CCA, and has worked for a few years in fancy and creative restaurant kitchens around San Francisco. Mondays, starting yesterday, he and associates, a separate business renting (they said) the facilities from the senior Peis (maybe to soften the parents' dismay at their son's career?) offer inventive sandwiches inspired by a style popular in Japan. They call their operation, for now anyway, "Monday." Asking, I was told that the idea was to offer a novel lunch option in an extremely casual format. That it was: minimal service, self-serve utensils and drinks.
Three sandwiches were on the initial menu (it may change), all based on fried cutlets: chicken ($7), tonkatsu (pork cutlet, $7), and ebikatsu (shrimp patty, $8). Each sandwich had a freshly made fried breaded cutlet layered with a vegetable salad and aioli on an Acme torpedo roll, in a basket with interesting fresh pickled vegetables. Side dishes available included French fries (not bad: 1/4 inch square x-section, roughly French bistro style, $2) and "Popcorn" cauliflower (spicy, a big hit at our table: $3). All "finger food." Soft drinks were offered, an array in a tub of ice. Our table of 4 shared all three sandwich types, they looked roughly like something from Burger King but the resemblance ended on first bite. Very fresh, juicy, and flavorfully garnished with the vegetable salad. (All three were close variations on a theme; I slightly preferred the chicken version, but enjoyed all, and plan to return.) The pickled vegetables that came with the sandwiches were varied, unusual, and also delicious. (I bit into a fennel seed that was part of the pickle spices.) True finger food: with the fries and cauliflower "popcorn," our fingers needed cleaning afterwards. Maybe they'll add some disposable towelettes or something for the fingers.
The flyer and menu both warn it's "cash only."
743 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041
Went today for lunch: had the fried chicken with tonkatsu sauce, and korean style bbq sandwich. Both were absolutely delicious!! The chicken was my favorite: it was moist and crispy at the same time and flavors with the veg slaw were perfectly balanced. Yum! Will have to go back- they note their menu will change slightly week to week. Today they also had tacos, but I was to full to try them...
I tried on 5/10 and got a pork noodle bowl and the popcorn cauliflower. Contrary to my expectation, the cauliflower wasn't fried, although it was cooked in a fair amount of oil. The first bite seemed really salty but the rest were seasoned just right, so maybe I hit a salt bump. Loved the hint of chile (togarishi?), just right.
The noodle bowl, on the other hand, was an uneasy blend of the kind of garlic noodles served with crab at Thanh Long, PPQ, etc.; "Asian roasted pork," which I had expected to be Chinese BBQ but turned out to be more like Vietnamese charbroiled, like what you get in bun; and pickled carrots and bean sprouts, again Vietnamese style. Each element was good but I didn't think they really worked together. Still, I admired the scrappy operation and had I not been in a noodle mood would have gone for the fried fish sandwich, which sounded really yummy. Come to think of it, there were other options for the noodle bowl, like fried chicken and maybe tofu. It was $8, if memory serves.
4101 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122
I also went back last week, and tried the roasted-pork sandwich, containing I think the same pork used in the noodle dish, with some Jalapeño peppers and other garnishes. I thought it worked very well, the peppers enhanced it. Also tried the egg rolls with tofu, roasted mushrooms, asparagus, and mung bean thread -- they were in a large format, maybe one inch diameter, two to an order, sliced in half -- very savory. And the asparagus and crouton salad which was more interesting than it sounded. In earlier visits I'd tried katsu sandwiches, which were new to me and enjoyable. I thought the garnishes (sauce, slaw, etc.) made them, as the katsu cutlets by themselves were hearty enough, but mild.
More background info I picked up last time: The son who does the cooking, mentioned earlier, works also at Range in SF and has had experience cooking at Postrio, Salt House, and Laiola.
545 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105
842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Postrio Cafe & Bar
545 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94102
2 Shaw Aly, San Francisco, CA 94105
Anyone else tried this place yet? Had a couple of lunches there, the katsu sandwiches were very good to my (inexperienced) taste, bigger and heartier than the original Japanese versions that friends mention. Menu added some short-term specials like brussels sprouts finished in gold-raisin vinaigrette (great!) an some Asian noodle stir-fry with pork or tofu (not tried yet).
FYI, yesterday they said they were going to rotate into other menu items soon, including their version of hamburgers. I think the idea is to offer interesting, slightly offbeat lunch items in a deliberately casual format. (I urged them to continue the katsu sandwiches -- which by the way are substantial -- because people are just starting to hear about them.)
The spicy cauliflower "popcorn" were again good and the French fries superb. In all my experience of fried potatoes to date in downtown Mountain View, Cantankerous Fish has consistently made the best "French" (bistro)-style fries and Kapp's Pizza Bar & Grill the best big "steak" fries, both fastidiously crisp. Those I had the last two weeks at "Monday" were equal to Cantankerous's.
The Cantankerous Fish
420 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041