Amazing Sandwich

Gina Hahn

The first Amazing Sandwich deli was opened in Thailand in 1998, and was welcomed heartily. We were just winding down from a frantic lifestyle in the west and in search of a quick sandwich lunch from time to time. We tried the packaged ones sold in some of the bakeries. They were dreadful – sweet white bread spread with something called "salad cream" and barely adorned with tissue thin ham or cheese or an egg substance that in no way resembled the hearty deli sandwiches we loved. Then the doors to the first Amazing Sandwich opened near the old Thai Airways offices, and we were sold. Build it yourself sandwiches with an assortment of meats, cheeses, and toppings filled the menu. Real deli dressings such as hot English mustard and mayonnaise were there. And the side orders were plentiful – potato salad, chips, fries, baked beans. It was truly "A Shady Island in a Sea of Rice".

Every month, more items appeared on the menu. We welcomed quiche and savory pies, pastrami and Parma ham. We picked up bagels for breakfast. And we loved the assortment of fruit-based drinks and iced teas. One time, in very hot weather, we ordered four iced tea drinks with lime and lychee in them. That was for two of us. The waiter just laughed, but it’s a refreshing, very satisfying drink.

In 2002, Thomas Berends, fed up with the failing economy in his neighborhood in Berlin and in search of a better climate, came to Chiang Mai. The next year, he bought the original Amazing Sandwich. In 2004 he and his wife opened a second deli on Huay Kaew Road across from Kad Suan Kaew. A year later, we’re celebrating with them the opening of the third Amazing Sandwich deli. The menu has continued to expand, but you still build your sandwich – or burger.

When you sit down at a table at any of the Amazing Sandwich delis, you will notice a container filled with yellow and white order forms and pencils. Take a form and start working on your sandwich. Just fill in your name, and then choose the bread, meat, cheese, vegetables and dressings. Add the side orders, your choice of drinks and hand the completed order to the waiter or waitress who will be at your table to help you. Yellow forms are burgers, white forms are sandwiches, and the back of both forms includes quiches and savory pies, drinks and sweets. Or order one of the six set menu breakfasts at 105 baht, each named for a famous city or simply designated "Continental".

The Amazing Sandwich burgers are, well, amazing. The usual pork, chicken or beef burger at 85 baht is made with 150 g of the meat of your choice, and finished with the usual choices of cheese, vegetables and dressings. If you’re really hungry, go for the "amazing" size with double the amount of everything. It’s priced at 140 baht. My very favorite burger, though, is the "Test Burger", a neat little package with 80 g of meat and your choice of toppings. The price of the test burger is amazing, too, at only 40 baht.

We ordered an assortment of sandwiches on baguettes. The baguette sandwich is priced at 90 baht; the sub or large baguette is priced at 115 baht. We added French fries, served hot and crisp. Then we ordered potato salad, and it was fresh and quite tasty. The homemade potato chips, a new addition to the menu, were a favorite. Thicker than the usual packaged chips, they were fresh and crisp with a light sprinkling of salt on top. Side orders come in two sizes, and are priced at 25 and 45 baht.

Don’t forget the selection of drinks – teas, lassis, milk shakes, and juices. Priced at 30 to 75 baht, they are sure to refresh you on the hottest of days!

Amazing Sandwich Number 3, 252 Pra Pokklao Road, between North Wheels and the Rydges Amora Tapae Hotel in a tiny, new mall called Sompetch Place, Chiang Mai, 50200. Telephone 053-218-846. Website www.ama zingsandwich.com. Open 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sundays. Limited parking. For take out, telephone or fax 053-404-174.