Japanese sandwich business Choo Sando making splash in Austin
AUSTIN, Texas - In a city like Austin where you get almost any type of food, it's hard to find something that hasn't been already readily available like Japanese sandwich-centric business Choo Sando.
Choo Sando is the brainchild of Chef Dong Ho Choo. The name of the business uses Choo's last name with the Japanese shortened English for sandwich, sando.
Chef Choo says he started the business after leaving a job at a local Japanese restaurant. He'd been working in Austin for the last 15 years and was taking a little break when he decided to help out with a church fundraiser. He says he was trying to figure out what to make when "God give me something. (A) good idea. Sandwiches!"
From the fundraiser, the business was born. Chef Choo says that the focus Choo Sando isn't just about the love of the sandos but also "joy and happiness."
For those who haven't had them before, sandos are a light, enjoyable menu item popular in Japan. The main difference between a sando and a sandwich you may be familiar with is the bread.
Sandos use milk bread or shokupan. Choo Sando uses shokupan made specially by a local bakery. The fillings are also unique.
Choo Sando offers some traditional sandos but also has a few of Chef Choo's own creations.
Traditional ones that are offered are:
- Tamago Sando: A light, fluffy, and slightly sweet Japanese style egg salad, with a soft-boiled egg in the center
- Katsu Sando: A Japanese classic. Crispy panko breaded pork cutlet paired with a umami and tangy katsu sauce and cabbage slaw
- Menchi Katsu Sando: A rich and savory panko fried beef and veggie patty topped with a creamy egg tartar sauce
- Strawberry Sando: A classic dessert sandwich. Juicy strawberries on a cloud-like bed of hand-whipped cream
- Potato Sando: A fluffy and whipped Japanese style potato salad, dotted with crunchy bits of cucumber, corn, and carrot
The special Choo Sandos are:
- Ebi Sando: Delectably tender and slightly-sweet shrimps topped with a crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw and creamy egg tartar sauce
- KFC Sando: Juicy and flavorful Korean fried chicken cutlets, contrasted perfectly with pickled cucumbers, slaw and a zingy dill grain mustard
- Pescado Sando: Fresh and flaky, panko-breaded fish cutlets, stacked with avocado, tomato, cilantro, and a creamy tartar sauce. A completely elevated take on a fish sandwich
- Smokey Sally Sando: Velvety yuzu smoked salmon paired with a fluffy and rich mascarpone cream cheese, avocado, and crunchy thin-sliced cucumbers and romaine
- Lobster Sando: Juicy, buttery mouthwatering chunks of lobster tail paired with a rich bisque tartar sauce and fresh cabbage slaw.
- Miso Salmon Katsu Sando: 72-hour miso-marinated with Faroe Island Salmon, Crispy panko breaded salmon patties topped with cabbage slaw, pickled cucumber, tangy katsu sauce, and creamy egg tartar sauce
The most popular ones, Chef Choo says, are the strawberry and the KFC, which he says everyone needs to try.
Chef Choo says the response to the sandos has been great and people remark on how beautiful and photogenic they are. It's a similar sentiment about Chef Choo's other venture he started recently, a sushi and omakase business.
Drawing from his experience working at restaurants, Chef Choo makes small bites and sashimi using the freshest items at the market, so the selection is diverse and change from week to week.
Both businesses are keeping Chef Choo very busy he says. He jokes that he and his wife have differing opinions on which business they like best.
"My wife she like sandwich," Chef Choo says. "I like sushi and sashimi."
Chef Choo says he's got a lot of plans for both businesses. He teased about some collaborations with different chefs. He says he's also doing some training for sushi chefs and consulting with restaurants as well.
No matter what happens in the future, Chef Choo says he knows he's found the perfect place to grow.
"A lot of people support small business. That's the reason I love Austin," Chef Choo says.
Chef Choo says he knows there are many chefs out there that want to start their own businesses but are discouraged or think they can't because they don't have a store. He says he know it's difficult to start but says it is possible.
"I want to encourage all the chefs who are looking to go out on their own and say that you can start you own business. Many people will support you and with hard work, your business will grow," Chef Choo says.
HOW TO ORDER FROM CHOO SANDO
Pre-order only until supplies last. You can click here to order.
Below are the pick-up times and locations as well as information on when need to order by.
Ordering Times: Pre-order cut-off is Tuesday at 10 a.m.
You can pick up at the following locations and times:
11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Manon's Shared Kitchen located at 8309 Research Blvd Ste B.
3 to 4:30 p.m. at Osaka Sushi located at 13492 Research Blvd #160.
Ordering Times: Pre-order cut-off is Friday at 10 a.m.
You can pick up at the following locations and times:
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Albor Food Park located at 1108 E 12th St.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Evergreen Church located at 5002 Caswell Ave.
HOW TO ORDER CHEF CHOO'S OMAKASE
Pre-order only. Pre-order cut-off is until sold out.
Pickup times are every Thursday and Friday, from 3-6 p.m. at Manon's Shared Kitchen located at 8309 Research Boulevard Ste. B. You can click here to order.