In case you haven't heard by now, Japan is heaven for egg sandwiches, or たまごサンド tamago sando. The late Anthony Bourdain is famous for having raved about the egg salad sandwich he discovered in a Japanese convenience store, calling it "unnaturally fluffy, insanely delicious (and) incongruously addictive" ("Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain," Okinawa epsiode).

Indeed, as we have recently reviewed at grape Japan, the tamago sando at FamilyMart with its fluffy and soft shokupan milk bread, as well as the satisying egg roll sandwiches at Japanese 7-Eleven, for example, are exceptionally good.

However, convenience stores don't have a monopoly on delicious egg sandwiches. Far from it. There are also excellent artisanal tamago sando made by individual shops. Moreover, while many convenience stores feature the Kanto style in which eggs are smoothly blended with mayonnaise, salt and pepper, there's also a Kansai style featuring a tamago-yaki style omelette filling.

As it turns out, it's an artisanal Kansai-style sandwich that has a special place in the hearts and stomachs of many Japanese celebrities, and that's the ones made by 天のや Amanoya. This Japanese sweets café was founded in Osaka in 1927 but they moved to Tokyo in 2012 and are now situated on a narrow side street off the main shopping avenue in the posh Tokyo neighborhood of 麻布十番 Azabu-jūban. Although they were recognized by Michelin with a Bib Gourmand for their okonomiyaki served by the third-generation owner, their amazing egg sandwiches are so popular that they are sold in special takeout shops and delivered all over Japan.

In addition to catering services, it's also common for people in Japanese show business to buy special snacks as gifts. These are called 差し入れ sashi-ire, and are greatly appreciated not only for the kind gesture it represents but also because it's often difficult for entertainers to find time to eat proper meals. Amanoya egg sandwiches are famous as sashi-ire among Japanese entertainers and their fans. For example, according to the Japanese food media site macaroni, some of their more famous customers include EXILE TAKAHIRO, vocalist for EXILE and Ace of Spades, and Chihara Junior from the comic duo Chihara Kyōdai.


Trying Amanoya's egg sandwiches

Of course, we had to try some for ourselves. We could have bought some from a takeout shop or even have them delivered to us, but we thought we would get the best possible versions if we reserved them from the store and picked them up ourselves.

Unboxing

Before we could try them, however, we could enjoy the unboxing.

They came in a handsome green paper bag. In terms of presentation, the difference between a convenience store egg sandwich and Amanoya's egg sandwiches are like night and day. And it makes sense, since this is an artisanal product made by a traditional Japanese sweets store.

Photo by © grape Japan

After removing the decorative wrapping paper featuring Amanoya's family crest, we were greeted by the outer box of the package. It was wrapped in a paper sleeve featuring Amanoya's logo, a stylized representation of the 天 kanji in their name, and the store's name on the side.

Photo by © grape Japan

Removing the sleeve revealed the inner box made of recyclable paper. A moist towelette was also included.

Photo by © grape Japan

We were getting closer! Inside, there was a thin paper covering protecting the sandwiches with the store's name on it.

Photo by © grape Japan

Tasting

Finally, we could see these famous sandwiches. They were presented just as beautifully as they were packaged, neatly cut into 12 perfect pieces.

Photo by © grape Japan

We could notice at first glance that the filling looked different. The plump omelette filling characteristic of the Kansai style glistened golden under the light and we were anxious to take our first bite.

Photo by © grape Japan

Up close, we noticed a layer of butter on the bread and recognized pieces of egg white in the egg filling, revealing that the eggs were lightly whipped and not blended into a homogenous mixture in an electric blender.

Photo by © grape Japan

Finally, it was time to taste them.

Maybe it was because our anticipation was so high through all the unboxing, but we couldn't have been more prepared. The bread was soft and mildly sweet like a good shokupan should be, and the tamago-yaki style omelet filling was amazing. This was unlike any egg sandwich we had tried before. Not too firm, fluffy and airy, the omelet was flavored with Kansai-style dashi broth and mayonnaise and had a hint of mustard as well which added a delightful kick to it. The flavor of quality eggs, the umami of the dashi, and the light sweetness of the bread. The combination of tastes and textures was delightful and we couldn't stop eating piece after fluffy piece. An earthquake could have happened and we wouldn't stop eating these sandwiches.

We were hooked, line and sinker. We finally understood why Amanoya's egg sandwiches are so popular and why celebrities are happy to receive them as gifts.

If you want to try a different style of egg sandwich than any convenience store can offer, you can't go wrong with Amanoya. It's a must-try if you like eggs. They also make amazing Ogura Toast (toast filled with sweet red beans), which we will review separately. And if you have time, stop by the cafe in Azabujuban to try their okonomiyaki, zenzai and other delicious offerings.


Information

Egg sandwiches

  • Sizes: Large (12 pieces) 1,210 JPY (tax included), Small (6 pieces) 721 JPY (tax included)
  • Food allergen information: Egg, wheat, milk, soy

Locations

[Main Store]

Photo by © grape Japan

  • Address: 3-1-9 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0045, Japan
  • Access: 1 min. from #1 Exit of Azabujuban Sta., Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line
  • Air conditoning, reservations essential, cash only
  • Lunch hours: Noon to 4:00 p.m. / Dinner hours: 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (last order time may vary)
  • Closed on Tuesdays (and other exceptional holidays)
  • Tel: 03-5484-8117
  • Website (Japanese) | Global (English)

[Takeout in Tokyo]

SEIBU IKEBUKURO

  • 1-28-1, Minamiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo B1
  • Open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Open Sundays and Holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

SEIBU SHIBUYA

  • 21-1, Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo B1
  • Open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Open Sundays and Holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

KEIO DEPARTMENT STORE

  • 1-1-4 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo B1
  • Open 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

[Takeout in Osaka]

ITAMI Airport


By - Ben K.