by Leila DeVito
If someone invited you for a secret sandwich in Notting Hill, you’d be forgiven for thinking twice.
Of course, if you were hoping for it to be as deviant as it sounds, you’ll be sorely disappointed – because these sandwiches are the breaded variety, and fresh and delicious ingredients are the filling, not you.
There’s a lot of contention about who actually invented the sandwich. Some people think it was a bloke called John Montagu – the 4th Earl of Sandwich – who first constructed this carbo-charged classic, but the truth is people were probably making them long before that. The dish has continued to evolve over the years, and London’s sandwich scene has now gone stratospheric, with katsu sandos, stuffed pitas and bodega-style doorstoppers available across the city.
The Secret Sandwich Shop in Notting Hill is keeping the trend moving in West London. Its secretive nature is down to the unmarked shopfront, which bears the name of the legendary Globe nightclub below (where Hendrix and The Rolling Stones hung out in the 60s). Well worth the GI points, their sandwiches are based on a Japanese wanpaku sandwich, meaning naughty or cheeky.
Here, layered stacks of fillings are wedged between two thick slices of shokupan, which is a Japanese milk loaf – slightly sweet and pillowy, without being squidgy or losing its integrity when eating. And that’s crucial when the sandwiches are about the size of a brick. The shop’s signature eponymous sandwich – a mix of five seasonal vegetables with avocado, tomato and kewpie mayo – is delicious. And a big part of that is the mayo. A staple Japanese condiment, kewpie mayo is made with only egg yolks, not the whole shebang, which makes it richer and creamier than traditional mayonnaise, and it really does elevate these sandwiches.
Although these guys believe you don’t need meat to make a decent sandwich, carnivores can get into numbers like Honey Mustard Chicken; The Hungry Dane (a heady mix of pastrami, salami, cheese, buffalo sauce and jalapeños); and a T.L.T, which uses turkey instead of bacon. And if you want to customise your own, you can add extras.
Given the Japanese influence, it’s unsurprising that the drinks menu features sake, Ocean Bomb sodas with anime packaging, and ramune – bottles of lemonade featuring a cool but pretty tricksy opening mechanism involving a marble.
Just ask your server to let you in on the secret.
NOTE: Secret Sandwich Shop is open daily, 11am-3pm. It’s walk-in only; you can find out more HERE.
Secret Sandwich Shop | 103 Talbot Road, London, W11 2AT
In the neighbourhood? Check out the best bars in Notting Hill while you’re there.