Since the early 20th century, much of Japanese cuisine has taken inspiration from Western cuisine. It's a genre the Japanese call yoshoku ("Western food"). That fascination can lead to the obsessive replication of classic dishes, which is why you're just as likely to find excellent pizza in Kyoto as you are in Naples. But it can also lead to the reinterpration of Western staples into something uniquely Japanese.

The katsu sando is a great example of yoshoku. A katsu (a shortening of the Japanese word for cutlet, katsuretsu) is breaded and fried, and sandwiched between two slices of shokupan, fluffy white Japanese milk bread. Sando is the Japanese abbreviation of sandoitchi, which means sandwich. It's a triple-threat of a blockbuster snack: photogenic, texturally interesting and deliciously moreish.

Katsu sandos are everywhere in Sydney right now, and only getting more popular. Here are the best places in town to get your hands on one.

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Best Japanese Restaurants in Sydney
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Sandoitchi

Cafe

Sandoitchi’s katsu is markedly different from its competitors. Where other cafe chefs and restaurateurs strive to find the softest sandwich bread possible, this one is a more textural option. It’s staked with salted cucumber, pickled carrots, nori, American-style cheese and tonkatsu-flavoured mayo.

Shop 3 113-115 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

Cafe Oratnek

Cafe

The sando here is on the all-day menu, and we recommend enjoying it whenever the spirit moves you. There's also the unexpected addition of sweet mustard to balance out the fatty heft of the 200g pork cutlet.

4 Pitt Street, Redfern

Cafe Monaka

Cafe

The filling of this tonkatsu sando here is as classic as they come: a big crumbed pork cutlet slathered in Bulldog sauce.

2 24 Waratah St, Mona Vale

The Lucky Pickle

Cafe

The chicken katsu sandwich here has all of the familiar condiments of a sando, but the white bread is swapped out for a crispy roll.

Shop 3 509-511 Crown Street (Enter via High Holborn Street), Surry Hills

Kentaro

Cafe

The same signature sando you’ll find at Kentaro’s Redfern counterpart, Cafe Oratnek. Expect a 200-gram cutlet of deep-fried pork loin between crustless white bread, plus shredded cabbage, bulldog sauce, and a good lick of sweet mustard. The katsu sando here comes sliced in thirds like you’d find in a Japanese convenience store.

616 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Cool Mac Cafe

Cafe

Cool Mac likes to bend the rules. Case in point: the house sando. Pork gets replaced with a golden hunk of panko-crumbed eggplant. The result is wonderfully crunchy on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside. Add a dollop of egg tartare and salad to cool things down, and you’re left with a modern twist on the classic. This katsu sando also occasionally pops up at Cool Mac’s Marrickville sister cafe, Kurumac.

2/ 34 Burton Street, Kirribilli

John Montagu

Cafe

This Woollomooloo cafe is named for the (purported) inventor of the sandwich, so you know it’s packing heat. The sando here sees a refreshing stack of rocket, mint, apple and cucumber is laced with chipotle mayo, topped with a gold chicken cutlet. Crusts left on.

144 Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo

Lox in a Box

Cafe

Meet the katsu bagel. This beloved bagelry’s ode to the sando is unique: your choice of chicken or tofu gets lashed with miso mayonnaise and house-made tonkatsu sauce, then it’s topped with pickled cucumber and slaw and sandwiched between two chewy bagel slices. Getting a firm grasp on this thing without making an absolute mess is near impossible. Only in Bondi.

2/96 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi

Kahii

Cafe

This Japanese-inspired cafe in the CBD is known for two things: consistently good matcha and a standout sando. The latter is the kind of thing you could probably hinge an entire cafe on: pillowy-soft white bread, vibrant purple slaw, sweet house sauce, and a palm-sized nugget of crumbed pork.

Ground Floor 364 Kent Street, Sydney
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