Coffee was my first passion, which is how Kafka’s was born; sandwiches are my second. Ever since the launch of our Kafka’s location on Main Street in Vancouver, I’ve always wanted to turn my open window into a sandwich bar—and now with Lil Bird Sandwich Co., that dream is a reality. Sandwiches are my go-to for lunch. There isn’t anything more simple and packed full of flavour.
When making one, there are a few things to consider. Here are my top tips for building the perfect sandwich.
The most important thing about bread is freshness. Beyond that, it has to make the sandwich easy to eat. For example, if you have more wet ingredients, such as sauces, tomatoes, or roasted peppers, you want bread that doesn’t allow much sliding. This holds the sandwich together. A hoagie is softer in texture, for instance, and can contain those wet ingredients better.
Sliced bread, such as traditional sourdough, is a bit more stiff in texture, and can hold bigger sandwiches—especially stacked ones. These ingredients are normally less saucy to accommodate all the layers.
No matter what, always keep the crust on. It’s the tastiest part of the bread.
It’s all about taste, balance, and adding dimension to your sandwich: complementing salty and sweet flavours with another element, such as heat.
If your sandwich has lots of deli meats, which are normally saltier, you’d want a sauce that balances that out: perhaps something sweet or spicy. In our Meat Your Match sandwich, we balance the meat with a spicy mayo.
Number of toppings
This is really up to you. We always say to make a sandwich until it is complete, such as adding in something crunchy to vary your textures. However, don’t overdo it. The number-one rule of a sandwich is: ensure it’s easy to eat.
Ratio of toppings
It’s all about balance. What are you showcasing in the sandwich? The meat? The vegetables? For example, if you have sliced meat in your sandwich, you want enough cheese to give a creaminess, but not too much that it overwhelms. That all changes if you’re making a grilled cheese, of course, where the cheese needs to shine.
All the layering should be done in such a way that the sandwich doesn’t slide around. For example, for our hoagie roll, we actually pull out some of the interior bread so that everything is snugly tucked in. Every bite is exactly the same, from beginning to end.
To layer, we recommend you first spread the sauce on the bread, from corner to corner. The sauce helps to season the bread. Then, you alternate between wet and dry ingredients (otherwise it slides). After you spread the sauce, add the meat or roasted vegetables, then some sort of garnish (pickles or herbs), then cheese, then another garnish like arugula, then tomato.
In my opinion, sandwich sides are best when you can eat them with your hands. We love serving chips with our sandwiches because it’s super traditional, and adds a nice salty crunch to the meal. Another personal favourite is fresh corn on the cob; other ideas include seasonal fruit such as grape tomatoes.
And no matter what, just remember to enjoy your eating experience. After all: sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine.