Sando Gang, a new sando pop-up by Japanese-born chef Yusuke Motozawa, is set to make its big debut this weekend.
Motozawa will host his first pop-up this Sunday, December 13, at Ramen Bar Ichi. Beginning at 12 p.m., and available on a first come, first serve basis, the pop-up will feature Motozawa’s take on the Japanese sando for either take-out or dine-in. Motozawa, known as the chef behind Powered by Rice, Hako Bento, and this week’s sold out Wagyu Event featuring A5 Hitachigyu Wagyu from Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture, has had Sando Gang in the works for more than four months.
He says he wanted to challenge the perception that a Japanese sando is something basic, a quick lunch or snack that you’d pick up from a 7-11. “There’s a cafe in my hometown. It’s a log house in the middle of a rice field. They serve a great sandwich. That’s what I’m going after.”
For this first pop-up, Motozawa is offering options for either take-out or dine-in. The takeout option, which he collaborated on with chef Hiro Kawashima of Ramen Bar Ichi, will be a choice of either regular or spicy chicken karaage sando, with red cabbage apple slaw and housemade sauce on Japanese milk bread, priced at $13.
There will be two choices for dine-in as well: a Wagyu Katsu Sando, made with A5 Wagyu Ribeye from Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture, priced at $50; or a Wagyu Katsu Curry with rice, priced at $60. Motozawa says he will be using approximately four ounces of A5 wagyu in each order, making the $50 price tag a total steal.
Wagyu sandos in the U.S. typically cost anywhere from $125 to $175. A sandwich of similar quality would cost $300 in Tokyo. Motozawa will only have about 20 orders of the sando, and when it’s gone it’s gone (translation: get there early if you want a guaranteed taste).
Other popular Japanese sando variations, such as egg salad and pork katsu, will debut at a Sando Gang pop-up in the future, with new pop-ups happening monthly.
“I want to make sure that I put in the same amount of care and detail [that I put into Powered by Rice] so that when you take the first bite into it, you don’t have to question is this real, is this authentic,” he says. “I want people to be able to say ‘I tasted a piece of Japan in Houston because Yusuke made it.’”
Sando Gang’s pop-up takes place Sunday, December 13. Pick-up orders will be taken beginning at 11 a.m., and dine-in beginning at 12 p.m. at Ramen Bar Ichi, 1801 South Dairy Ashford Road, Suite 108. For more info, follow the pop-up on Instagram.