LA's “Sandwich King” Crowns His Favorite Sandwiches In The City
photo credit: Brendan North
Owen Han literally wakes up thinking about sandwiches. The chef's viral TikToks, where bread gets piled high with elaborate fillings and slapped down on cutting boards, have earned him the title "Sandwich King" (actual royal lineage still up for debate). So, any particular morning might find him adding more items to his endless list of potential ingredients, or if he's not filming, figuring out where he's going to head to for a meal between bread. It's not surprising that he has a pretty deep bench of LA sandwich go-to's, but what is surprising is how far and wide he'll travel. We spoke to the King about his must-eat sandwiches in the city, plus the ideal vehicles for tuna, his feelings on sprouts, and avoiding soggy bread.
"I grew up eating bresaola, which does not get the love that it deserves. It has such a distinct flavor. The closest thing to it is prosciutto, but [bresaola] has no fat on it. For a sandwich spot to put something on their menu with such a [hard-to-find] ingredient really shines a light on the quality of it, and that they believe that people are gonna order it because people are gonna start talking about it. I think it works really well because of that cold cut with the baguette they use. They don't overdo it with ingredients. You can really just taste the bresaola."
The Tuna Chop
"I think it's the best tuna sandwich you can get. Typically, I would default to a tuna melt, but this is so good. They use a crunchy ciabatta, which works so well with the mushy tuna. Then they add pepperoncini to their tuna salad—if you eat that with their hot sauce, I'm telling you, it's so, so good. With tuna, you either hate it or love it. But if you love it, you’ve definitely gotta get this sandwich."
#3 Soppressata Salami, with extra spread and fresh tomatoes
"I used to live in Hollywood. Back then, this was the closest sandwich shop to me. What's great about this is that it's pretty simple. It's literally just salami, tomato, and a little bit of greens. What really makes this is the quality of the ingredients. Larchmont Wine and Cheese is an Italian deli, so they're freshly cutting their meat, and the baguette they use is great. What also makes it is the sun-dried tomato spread. Definitely get an extra side of that. I definitely recommend ordering ahead, because it can get pretty swamped in there."
The Ira Glass, add turkey
"I am a sucker for sprouts. If I see a sandwich with sprouts, I will be ordering it. Some people hate sprouts in a sandwich, but to me, it's such a unique flavor and adds really good texture. My favorite combo is sprouts and turkey, so add turkey onto this one. There’s a few things to say about this sandwich. It has a super beautiful cross section. That thing is a thick-ass sandwich, but the bread works really well and holds it all together. The flavor profile of it is super fresh. I'm also such a sharp cheddar fan. And I'm a sucker for any kind of aioli, but a garlic aioli… when it comes to cold cuts, that's definitely a go-to."
"Bodega Park's [version] is a little cleaner than a chopped cheese you'd get in New York, but I think that caters to the LA market. What's awesome is the jalapeño. The lettuce and tomato cut through the rich fattiness of the meat. Then they add the perfect amount of cheese, which melts it all together. I mean, a chopped cheese is a chopped cheese, but I think they do it really well. And there aren't many places in LA where you can go get one. You're not gonna feel great after eating it, but you also won't feel terrible."
"This is a Vietnamese-inspired lemongrass chicken sandwich, but they add crispy chicken skin to it—little bites of flavor bomb. I've done crispy skin in a few sandwiches that I’ve made, but to see a place that sells sandwiches like that…that's sick. They're using a fresh baguette, too. It's packed with a lot of flavor. And to get a Vietnamese-inspired sandwich that isn't a bánh mì is also pretty rare to find, so Open Market kills it with that."
The beef double-dipped, with a side of spicy mustard and a pickle
"This is actually one of the first sandwiches I ever had in LA. I got the double dip with spicy mustard that burns your nose when you bite into it, with the pickle, too. The place itself is f**cking awesome. With all the decor, you can tell it's been around for ages. But then the sandwich itself too, it's just classic. It's so good. If you're eating there—if you're getting a dip sandwich, do not get it to go, or you're just gonna be eating the soggiest bread—I want that thing dripping everywhere, super sloppy, hence the double dip. You're just getting more flavor really. That's a personal preference."
“Now that I live on the Westside, I rarely make my way [east] unless it's for food. That being said, this sandwich makes the one hour trek more than worth it! I was a bit hesitant to order [it] since I have never had meatloaf (which makes me nostalgic for my childhood school lunches) served in a sandwich. I am so glad I did. The orange pomegranate glaze wasn’t the least bit overwhelming and complimented the meatloaf perfectly, but the star of the dish has to be the house made challah. Though I usually go for toasted bread, the challah’s softness worked so well with the addition of crunch from chips and pickles in the sandwich. The simplicity of the sandwich overall paired with the textural elements makes every bite a delicious and comforting one."
"If you want a good chicken cutlet sandwich, this is the best. Their cutlets are relatively thin, and they put two of them onto the sandwich. They do a vodka sauce, as opposed to traditional marinara, on a seeded baguette with mozzarella and basil. It's simple, but the flavor has layers. That vodka sauce they do? They also sell arancini, so get a side of that to dip in the sauce, and then an extra side of sauce for your sandwich—it's killer."
"It's bacon, egg, cheese, avocado, and you can add tomato jam—to me, that's what takes it to another level. You get a sweetness [from the jam] that cuts through all the richness of the bacon, egg and cheese. If I can add avocado to a sandwich, I'm gonna do it. It elevates it—you get creaminess, flavor, and more protein. I think the bagels on their own are solid. But when it comes to a breakfast sandwich, I haven't found something unique like this with the tomato jam."
Smoked Brisket Bánh Mì
"Now I live in Venice, and I had this sandwich a couple of days ago. I love this sandwich. There are actually two bánh mì on their menu—one is with roasted chicken and pate—but I asked the workers which they recommend and they were like, “Definitely do the smoked brisket.” And it is just super tender. All the pickled veg cut through that fattiness. And then their bread…I mean, it's a bakery, so their bread is insane. There’s also their Italian sandwich, which is mortadella, ham, soppressata, and it's dressed perfectly with oil, oregano, and vinegar on a ciabatta baguette, which I've never heard of. It's just a classic Italian sandwich. You can't go wrong with either of those."