Japanese Egg Sandwiches Are Better On Every Level

If it wasn't Anthony Bourdain's 2013 tweet praising Japanese egg salad sandwiches that put them in the global spotlight, it (at the very least) certainly helped in doing so. Also known as tamago sando, Japan's take on the egg salad sandwich can be found at any given mini-mart or convenience store in the country, notably 7-Elevens. But the super-affordable sandwiches are also easily found inside many food vending machines.

Appearance-wise, the sandwich looks like any given American egg salad sandwich on crustless white bread, although sometimes the egg salad is topped with a whole soft-boiled egg. It's made with just a few signature ingredients, but it's the quality that truly sets it apart. Utilizing Japanese milk bread, kewpie mayonnaise, and delicious creamy eggs, the tamago sando proves that excellent food can sometimes be found in the most unassuming of places and doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Good ingredients make all the difference

Many of us recall the egg salad sandwiches from our childhoods as being a creamy, eggy filling inside soft bread. This is basically what you get with the Japanese version, except the bread is even softer, and the filling is eggier since there are no other vegetables or meat added. Japanese milk bread (also known as Shokupan) is pillowy and springy and has a lovely sweet flavor. The crust is pretty thin but is still trimmed off when used in tamago sando so that every bite is equally tender and delicious.

In Japan, high-quality fresh eggs with orange yolks are used in making the eggy spread. While these have the same nutritional content as those with yellow yolks, eggs that have an orange yolk are known to have a richer mouthfeel and a deeper flavor when eaten. You also can't deny that the bright orange gives the egg salad a refreshing and appetizing color.

Another ingredient that has slowly but strongly garnered an international fan base is kewpie mayonnaise, the exact kind that's used in Japanese egg salad. Whereas standard mayo is made with whole eggs, oil, and white vinegar, kewpie mayo is made using egg yolks, oil, and a blend of vinegars like red wine, apple cider, and rice vinegar. All this together means a deliciously rich texture along with a very egg-forward flavor and slight tartness and sweetness from the condiments used in the mixture. 

American vs. Japanese egg salad

There will always be a special place in many people's hearts for good 'ole American egg salad sandwiches — if not for the flavor, then for the nostalgia of childhood lunches. Plus, they are tasty with additions like fresh tomato slices, crispy bacon, minced pickles, and seasonings like paprika. But as far as simple, rich flavor that relies on the egg filling, tamago sando might just take the cake. 

While American white bread is relatively bland and primarily used as the vehicle for holding the egg salad, Japanese egg bread adds to the flavor of the sandwich. If you can't get your hands on milk bread, brioche would make a suitable substitute. As for the eggs, you can get the same consistency and texture with yellow yolks, but you might miss out on the deeper flavor of those with an orange color. You can typically find them labeled as "free-range" at your local grocery or a farmers market. 

There are some excellent brands of American mayo on the market, but none of them will compare to kewpie mayonnaise, which tastes super eggy and has sweet and savory notes due to the vinegar and MSG. Fortunately, it's becoming more readily available in the U.S. Your initial shopping for authentic tamago sando will surely cost more than the $2 it takes to purchase one in Japan, but it's also a lot less than a plane ticket to Tokyo.