At a Ridgewood konbini the size of a shipping container, there’s a crispy katsu sandwich so huge it requires peripheral vision. Follow the smell of deep-fried foods, and stop when you reach a corner littered with sunflower-yellow patio furniture. There, you’ll find a shop selling Pocky, furikake, and a few takeout items that a younger version of yourself would skip school for.
From a few Bay Area expats who used to run pop-ups around NYC, this Japanese-American convenience store is a friendly place with a fanbase of regulars who understand the importance of Spam and Kewpie mayo. In addition to franchise-worthy fried chicken sandwiches, they have shelves of pantry items, a limited supply of grab-and-go foods, and some made-to-order dishes, like rice bowls topped with curry and spicy salmon.
All of the options are good and comforting, but a few are disorientingly delicious. Served on a potato roll that provides less coverage than a Speedo, the cartoonishly large fried chicken katsu is the headliner here, although there’s a cauliflower version that’s just as impressive. If you arrive early enough, you might be able to snag a breakfast burrito with Spam and crunchy hash browns. If you don’t, just get your Spam in grilled cheese form, with cheddar and American oozing all around it.
Open from noon to 7pm, Wednesday through Friday, Mama Yoshi is a respectable reason to call out sick or pursue a career as a night auditor at a hotel. But if you can’t make it during the week, they’re also open Saturdays. Grab a green tea from the fridge, get a container of mac salad to take home, then find a table on the patio where you can enjoy some of the best quick bites in NYC.
Spicy Chicken Sandwich
At Mama Yoshi’s, you can get your chicken sandwich regular or spicy. We highly suggest the latter. It burns a bit, like Nashville hot chicken, and you may even feel that dry rub hit your stomach, but that’s all part of the fun. The pickles and mayo help cut through the spice, and the potato bun mostly serves a handle, something to help you grip your massive, oblong piece of fried chicken.
Spam Grilled Cheese
Charred to a deep dark brown, this sandwich will escort you to a better, cheesier place that tastes like Spam, cheddar, and buttery milk bread.
Another opportunity to pay your respects to the wagyu of canned meats, this Hawaiian bowl is mostly just a vehicle for crisped-up bricks of Spam. Be sure to get some pickled ginger and lightly-dressed mac salad in every bite.
Available in bowl and sandwich form, this cauliflower katsu isn’t just an obligatory vegetarian option. It’s one of the best things here. The outside has a powerful crunch, and the cauliflower itself is moist and crumbly.
Chicken Katsu Curry Bowl
When you need something more substantial than a sandwich, go for this rice bowl with curry, pickles, and an abundance of fried chicken layered over the top.
Spam Breakfast Burrito
Mama Yoshi is essentially a Spam-themed restaurant. We approve of this theme, just like we approve of their burrito with Spam, hash browns, and two types of cheese. It’s a satisfying breakfast item that benefits from a splash of hot sauce.