There’s a new food cart slinging pillowy Japanese-style sandwiches in downtown Portland. Tokyo Sando opened February 2, with crustless katsu and picturesque egg salad sandwiches.
Owner Taiki Nakajima grew up in Tokyo, where his family owns an izakaya. After traveling around the world, cooking in places like Einstein’s Relative in Melbourne, he moved to the United States and started cooking in Philadelphia. He and his wife, Andrea Nakajima, decided to move to Portland, and after working as a line cook at Marukin Ramen, he decided to open a food cart.
“We traveled back to the South of Japan looking for ideas, and we were trying to find a Japanese food that would translate into something Americans would want to eat,” Andrea Nakajima says. “So, we tried lots of convenience store sandwiches in Japan.”
The couple decided to open a cart specializing in those types of sandwiches: Egg salad with a soft-boiled egg in its center, thick slabs of chicken katsu and pork katsu. The egg salad sandwich, instead of using the expected kewpie, uses the chef’s own version of the mayo. The katsu sandwiches, on the other hand, come with the classic cabbage and tonkatsu sauce.
The Nakajimas are particularly fond of the sandwiches harder to find in Japanese restaurants in Portland, though they’re not sure if they’ll stay on the menu. The chicken nanban, which comes smothered in tartar sauce, has survived, but the restaurant’s tamagoyaki, a Japanese rolled omelet sandwich, has left the menu. “It seems like it wasn’t selling right now,” Andrea Nakajima says. “We may bring it back. We’re seeing what people want, what people like.”
Tokyo Sando is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at 1927 SW 4th Avenue.