Dai's Deli: A long wait justified by classic sandwiches

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Contributing Writer

Ever since I first came across Dai’s sandwiches at a pop-up store in the basement of the Isetan food hall in Kyoto Station, I have been meaning to make a pilgrimage to the source: its sandwich deli and cafe in central Kyoto.

Many in Kyoto will already be familiar with Dai’s, as the company has a small chain of pizza stands scattered about the city. As takeout pizza goes, it’s cheap and unfussy. With the sandwich deli, however, it’s gone for the opposite: True gourmet sandwiches, designed to please both eye and stomach.

The menu is unmissable. Once inside, look right and you’ll see it spread across an entire wall. It’s a menu for all seasons and it includes the classics (clubhouse, BLT, avocado and salmon) as well as a few variations such as lobster and saba (mackerel).

If you’re eating in, you can head upstairs where there’s seating. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is somewhat akin to a bus shelter: people mulling around waiting for their orders. And the sandwiches take a while, because Dai’s packs a lot in.

In the saba sandwich, the red cabbage, lettuce, beef tomato, perilla, potato salad and baby sprouts were fresh or freshly made, but the salty mackerel somewhat overwhelmed its fellow ingredients.

By comparison, the BLT was a harmonious treat; sometimes it’s worth sticking with the classics. But that’s the great thing about Dai’s, everything’s worth trying at least once.

Sandwiches from ¥400; English menu; some English spoken