They say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. I’m going to add a third to that list: the egg salad sandwich from a FamilyMart convenience store in Tokyo.
I’d contemplated starting this story by writing a love letter to this delicious-tasting, fluffy, plastic-wrapped miracle.
But it deserves more than just adoration, penned by me from afar. This sandwich is so good I’ll stake my reputation as a travel writer on it and it is definitely worth spending seven hours on a Jetstar Airways flight from Cairns just to try one.
Even the late Anthony Bourdain enjoyed what’s better known as a Tamago Sando so much that he dubbed it “insanely delicious and incongruously addictive” in an episode of Parts Unknown.
But aren’t we talking about just a sandwich here? Boiled egg, mayonnaise, and some butter smashed between two pieces of white bread?
Not at all. The Tamago Sando is now so revered that it boasts a cult following not just in Japan but worldwide. Check it out on Instagram and prepare to lose yourself. You’ll find a bunch of sandwich-style treats in a Japanese Konbini (convenience store) – from Tuna Salad to Crispy Pork Schnitzel – but the egg salad sandwich has no rival.
So let’s deconstruct it. What makes this particular sandwich so delicious?
Availability: According to the FamilyMart website, there are 16,541 FamilyMart stores in Japan. While they vary in size and produce, they all stock a Tamago Sando. What is more astonishing is how they are never out of stock. Without fail, walk into the store at any time, and you will find a sandwich in a cool fridge that is still as fluffy and as creamy as it was the minute it was made.
Convenience: There is no better breakfast, not only because it is delicious, but because if you arrive in Tokyo from Australia early in the morning, nothing else in the city opens until 10am. John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, discovered in 1762 that convenience is the defining success factor in any sandwich.
Milk Bread: FamilyMart uses fluffy white shokupan milk bread – unlike your usual sandwich bread – it is silky, pillow soft, and sweet.
Crusts: There are none! Not only are these removed for you, but the sandwich is also crafted into two perfect triangles and stuffed into its plastic wrapping like an origami paper crane.
Egg: You’ll find only deliciously creamy and aromatic eggs in this sambo (and probably some yellow food colouring). But nothing else fancy is added to the egg mixture when it is layered between the bread. No celery, oregano, shallots, or garlic to disrupt the natural taste.
Mayonnaise: Japanese use Kewpie mayonnaise which is made with egg yolks and not whole eggs. Sweet, tart, and with that distinctive umami aftertaste, this mayonnaise could very well be the secret ingredient.
Price: At just ¥198 (around AU$2), it is an absolute steal.
The writer travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Jetstar Airways.
This story originally appeared on Escape and is republished here with permission