his week, New Yorkers were gifted a new stunt dish to pontificate over, rant about, and for a select few masters of the universe, maybe even eat. On Wednesday, a Financial District cubbyhole of a sandwich shop called Don Wagyu opened, asking potential customers: Would you spend $185 on a sandwich? Or are you somewhere between “what” and deeply offended by the very idea? The shop serves Tokyo’s very high-end katsu “sando,” and its lighthouse for local Wall Street whales is its $185 sandwich, luxury Instagram bait and an exercise in conspicuous consumption taken to absurd new heights, one that’s particularly vertiginous in our current moment of plutocrats and kleptocrats.
“I suppose you’d have to call this the irrational, rational extension of the original Changian pork bun. It’s morphed and mutated over the decades, through various stages, from coolness to hipness, to the point of post, post, post-ironic parody, where people are willing to fork over $180 for a bite — and of course, a goddamn picture — of something like this,” says New York critic Adam Platt, whom Grub dragged from his lair, more or less at gunpoint, down to Wall Street in order to try a couple sandwiches.
Don Wagyu is owned by Derek Feldman of Uchu, where the chef Samuel Clonts serves a grilled wagyu katsu sando as part of his very expensive omakase. The executive chef here is Corwin Kave, whom food geeks will remember from Fatty Crab. The menu’s three options are the $28 Washugyu, as entry level as an East Village studio apartment; the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu for $85; and the $185 A5 Ozaki, the trophy-wich. It’s made with supremely high-end Japanese beef, press materials state, which is to say it’s not available anywhere else in the United States. All three are served on thick, toasted white bread, the fried steak coated lightly in panko and painted with katsu sauce. Each comes with a half-pickle and slender fries dressed with nori flakes; they’ll serve about 200 sandwiches a day.