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Bologna Sandwich Lovers, It’s Okay to Come Out of Hiding

Critic Robert Sietsema says upgrading to this mortadella katsu sando is a proper remedy

Katana Kitten has a bar to the right with stools and lights hanging above Katana Kitten [Official Photo]

It is my intention to celebrate the sandwich this year by finding as many tasty examples as possible, with a special emphasis on fringe styles, but also presenting sandwiches that were considered more normal 30 years ago that now seem quaint. I will do this weekly and periodically present round-ups of the ones I consider best.

Hey bologna lovers! Too long have we hid in the shadows, ashamed of our passion — unable to explain why we admire a luncheon meat so fatty that its color is light pink, the consumption of which leaves our breath smelling like a subway station bathroom. Sure, a bologna sandwich is often the cheapest thing on the deli menu, but is that a positive thing in this age obsessed with expensive food?

Well, there is a remedy: Upgrade to mortadella. This rotund pork product originating in Bologna, Italy is just as fatty as its American counterpart, and shows it by being flecked with huge gobs of pig neck fat, with the occasional pistachio providing little improvement on the health front. Mortadella is said to have originated in ancient Rome, where the name referred to the mortar where the pork was ground into a smooth paste, flavored with myrtle.

A crustless sandwich of deep fried mortadella with a few green sprouts in top...
If you like crusts on your bread, ignore the katsu sando.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

But you can’t go to just any street corner deli and get a mortadella sandwich, at least not usually. And if you go to an Italian hero shop, the mortadella is usually interleaved with other cold cuts and cheeses, obscuring its loamy and garlicky flavor. Where, oh where can you find a sandwich that really showcases mortadella? The West Village Japanese izakaya Katana Kitten offers the answer, and there’s no better mortadella sandwich in town.

Katana Kitten stylishly calls its sandwich a “sando,” the slang that’s used in Japan for the form of sandwich, and the mortadella katsu sandwich ($15) features a perfect thick square of the sausage covered with panko and deep fried. It is then deposited on white bread, the crusts cut the way the English do around tea time. The bread has been slathered with tonkatsu sauce, which is like brown ketchup, and mustard that has a sharp quality that climbs up your nose. The result forms a perfect context for the pink meat, which shines forth in all its garlicky and fatty glory. 531 Hudson St, between West 10th and Charles streets, West Village

A black and white photo of a basement dining room with people sitting at high tables here and there...
Better to eat your sando in Katana Kitten’s downstairs
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Katana Kitten

531 Hudson Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (347) 866-7739 Visit Website