Another day, another cool sandwich contest. This time, TLC has paired with Panera Bread for a “create your own sandwich” event, with a bunch of cool prizes. First place is $10,000 cash, a $500 Panera gift card, free Panera bagels for a year, and your creation will be featured at Panera Bread locations nationwide. All entries will be judged (on a meticulous scoring system, with “taste appeal” and “creativity of sandwich” being the main factors) and twenty finalists will be submitted to the public for voting.

“DO NOT STEAL”

It’s a fun idea, and it’s worth trying if only to see how many cool ingredients Panera offers. Like the People’s Burger at Red Robin, I’ve thrown my hat into the ring with the Fusion Chicken Satay Focaccia. I tried to translate some of my favorite Thai food into a grilled sandwich, with a blend of Eastern and Western vegetables. Obviously, the very concept of a sandwich is somewhat rare in Pacific Asian cuisine (the Bahn Mi notwithstanding), but I feel like I did it justice.

I’d encourage everyone to enter, and be sure to post your recipes in the comments here. Voting starts Oct. 22, I’ll be sure to remind everyone. A lot. Too much, probably.

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Fast food chain Carl’s Jr. is trying out something a little different with their latest burger. For starters, it’s made out of ice cream and cookies. The Ice Cream Brrger is a chocolate ice cream and sugar cookie sandwich done up with icing to look like a hamburger. Avoiding actual hamburger-flavored ice cream was probably a good choice, because while I’d have been all for it, I doubt it would’ve sold well. Unfortunately, the Brrger is only being tested in Orange County, meaning I won’t be able to try it. Ice cream sandwiches have been a pretty big blind spot here on Sandwichtalk, something I hope to fix this summer. If any readers happen to try the Ice Cream Brrger, be sure to let me know in the comments.

With a pun this bad, you KNOW it’s good.

In a combination of self-promotion and minimization of bias, I’d like to announce that I am now gainfully employed by Jersey Giant Sub Shop. I’ve given them high marks, both here and in the Western Herald, and I’m proud to be part of the team bringing the best sub sandwiches out there to Kalamazoo. This means that I won’t be reviewing Jersey Giant subs anytime soon to avoid a conflict of interest, but I can guarantee they’re still some of the best on the market. If you’re not convinced, swing by the Jersey Giant location on Westnedge across from Meijer and I’ll make you one myself.

These dudes are on the menu. The left one is the tuna sub and the right is the Jersey Devil, which includes every meat we have (about 7). I don’t know if they have names, but I’m gonna refer to them as Billy and Todd respectively from now on.

Wendy’s is introducing a new line of burgers and sandwiches aimed at solidifying their lead over Burger King in the fast food race. They have a number of new regular hamburgers which have been pretty heavily marketed. They’ve also introduced a new chicken sandwich which has gone largely under the radar. The Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club is absent from Wendy’s website and doesn’t appear to be available nationwide yet. It was available at a Wendy’s I visited recently though, so I gave it a shot.

It’s so mysterious, I could only find a picture of a picture of it!

A club sandwich is generally a pretty safe way to go when planning a new chicken sandwich. Everyone knows what chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and mayo taste like, so any variations are still going to be in that ballpark. The Spicy Guacamole shakes up the formula a little bit, using Wendy’s spicy breaded chicken breast, pepperjack cheese and a chipotle mayo, and adding the titular guacamole. I’m not generally a fan of the spicy chicken breast, and while it works alright here, the numerous spicy elements become a bit overpowering when taken together. The solution for this should be the guacamole, but there’s not enough of it on the sandwich to balance everything quite right. I don’t know if mine was a specific problem or if they skimp in general, but make sure to order extra guacamole if possible.

The Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club runs for about $6.50 with a combo. It’s a decent price for a decent sandwich, but avoid it if you don’t like spicy things, and be sure to get as much guacamole as you can. In unrelated news, I found this really weird marketing website in the process of researching the sandwich, and I felt I should share it with you. I’m sorry.

The newspaper I write for, The Kalamazoo Gazette, was part of an ongoing project last week by reporters throughout the state to find the best Coney dog in Michigan.  As a sandwich aficionado, I’m all for this.  A lot of people don’t realize that Coney Island hot dogs originated in Michigan, rather than New York.  Throwing chili, onions and mustard on a hot dog is one of the best things you can do with it (in my humble but correct opinion), and there are places throughout the state which do a great job.

A Polish and Chicago dog from Dogs with Style. I've tried (and enjoyed) their Coney as well, I'll probably be posting a review soon.

The full archive is available here.  I’ve also included a link to my thoughts on some of the non-Coney offerings at Dogs with Style, one of the Kalamazoo spots the team visited.

Sandwich Link: JAPADOG

January 30, 2012

I recently found this website, and I can’t stop thinking about it.  It belongs to a Canadian hot dog stand chain called JAPADOG, whose stated mission is “making the world happy and alive through hot dogs!”  The chain boasts five locations in Vancouver and a new one in New York City.  JAPADOG prepares their hot dogs “Japanese-style,” which means that they include a number of traditional Japanese vegetables, sauces, and even meats in their recipes.

No JAPADOG, No Life!!

The thing I love most about JAPADOG is their boundless enthusiasm for hot dogs.  The owners are truly living their dreams, as evidenced by the comparatively detailed history section on the website.  Although the English isn’t always perfect, the website is fun and ambitious.  It’s not often I come across someone whose passion for sandwiches rivals my own, and it’s a nice feeling.

I have no idea what kind of hot dogs these are, but they look AWESOME.

The hot dogs at JAPADOG also look delicious.  I’ve always wanted to eat hot dogs with regional themese, and the use of Japanese ingredients lends it a somewhat classier look.  (These are the kinds of recipes I expected from the famed Yesterdog of Grand Rapids, by the way.  I got pickles and mustard with a side of condescension instead.)  A couple offerings which look particularly tasty are the terimayo, which includes teriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed, the yakisoba, which is an arabiki sausage topped with noodles, and the ebichiki, which is a shrimp sausage topped with chili sauce and dried shrimp.  They also offer traditional undressed hot dogs, for the less adventurous visitors.

All in all, JAPADOG looks great.  I don’t anticipate being in Vancouver or NYC any time soon, but next time I am it’s definitely on my list.  Anyone who’s in the area, be sure to check them out and let me know what you think in the comments.  And on a related note, can any Japanese readers confirm that this is anything like how hot dogs are prepared in Japan?  I honestly have no idea.

I kind of try to avoid talking about my personal life on Sandwichtalk, but I was recently hired by the Kalamazoo Gazette as a news section intern (you can see my work here).  One of the effects of this job is that for the first time, I’m in downtown Kalamazoo between the hours of 11 and 3, when the hot dog shop Dogs With Style is open.  Dogs With Style is a bit of a rarity in this day and age; a cheap lunch option with limited hours and a menu of hot dogs and other quick sandwiches, french fries, and a couple of soups.  Seating is limited, and they actually have a walk-up window outside to the street.

The Polish Dog on the left, and the Chicago on the right.

I ordered the Chicago Dog and the Polish Dog, and was impressed by both. The Polish was a bratwurst with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard.  It was good, and both the bratwurst itself and the sauerkraut were generously portioned.  I had tried a Chicago-style hot dog previously but hadn’t been too impressed with it.  This one was much better.  The inclusion of celery salt was a small but important addition, and while the hot dog frank itself wasn’t quite on the level of Steak ‘n’ Shake’s, the other ingredients, namely the chopped onions and tomatoes, tasted fresher and much more authentic.  While I’m still warming up to Chicago-style, this is obviously the place to do it.

All of the hot dogs and most of the sandwiches at Dogs With Style cost $2.50.  You can get a cheap combo, which includes fries and a drink, but the two hot dogs themselves made a pretty satisfying lunch.  Dogs With Style is on Burdick Street next to the Kalamazoo State Theatre, and if you happen to be going to lunch downtown, it’s a good bet.