For more than five weeks, aesthetically pleasing photos of sandwiches have been scrolling across Instagram for Dallas users.
And every week, Sandoitchi, a new pop-up providing these Japanese sandwiches, has been selling out.
It’s not a surprising phenomenon. This type of sandwich, popular for a quick meal in Japan, graced the cover of last year’s Bon Appétit for the magazine's pick for best new restaurant in America, Konbi.
While Konbi had been selling out of its goods daily, Dallas wasn’t a destination for this specific food, which is where the men behind Sandoitchi found a market.
“In Japan, it’s such a common thing — it’s so striking, visually. We always admired the simplistic packaging, things like that,” says Keith Tran.
Tran is the operations manager of the pop-up, which now consists of weekly pickups and deliveries with orders placed online after announcements on Instagram.
Tran is based in California, while the one creating the menu and actual meals is Stevie Nguyen.
Nguyen has a respectable pedigree, having worked at Uchi in Dallas and Houston after growing up in Louisiana. He also spent time in New York at Morimoto and Momofuku Ko.
Most recently, he was working at Deep Ellum’s Niwa Japanese BBQ, the kitchen where Sandoitchi’s foods are made every week.
Along for the ride are creative director Angel Acosta and Andy Sirois, who handles marketing.
“We can really elevate it and use locally sourced ingredients and really make it a chef-driven idea,” Tran says. “It’s still like fine dining; it just happens to be a sandwich.”
The sold-out weeks have included an A5 wagyu katsu sando, a strawberry-matcha cream sando and an egg salad sando.
A brick-and-mortar was the first idea for their foods, and still is — they’re looking around Deep Ellum for a future location — but as they got rolling amid a pandemic, a strict, to-go-only concept was what came out.
In place of a soft open, they shared the sandwiches with friends.
“The response was instant: This is great. Those friends started posting — we didn’t even have an Instagram page yet,” Tran says.
June 14 was their first Instagram post, and the following grew by the thousands (they sit at nearly 9,000 as of Monday). Along with a pickup location from Niwa, they have been delivering in Carrollton, Garland, Irving and Richardson, depending on the week.
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And they’re still selling out.
“Now it’s really hard to get — that was never our intent,” Tran says.
So they’re refining the process each week. For example, you can now order online instead of sending a message through Instagram.