Sandwich shop delivers unique flavors

November 26, 2010 (ELMHURST, Ill.)

The Hungry Hound found a few, delicious alternatives in the western suburbs.

The creative, sometimes beguiling sandwiches at Zenwich, in Elmhurst, include the freshest ingredients and marinated meats reminiscent of Asia.

"We have some Korean, we got Thai, we have Vietnamese, we're trying Chinese sometimes," said Zenwich owner Nate Nakasatian.

But it's the Thai-influences that shine brightest. Take the Moo Ping sandwich: on a base of toasted ciabatta bread, a thin layer of homemade, sweet-and-sour mayo; then small, crunchy cucumbers, red onions and jalapenos for heat. A Thai-marinated-and-grilled pork tenderloin is then topped with a mound of fresh cilantro and a handful of crunchy/tart daikon radish and carrots.

"Moo ping is street food in Thailand, it's actually set up on the skewer with the sticky rice. But it's like my childhood's favorite snack, so we want to put that in a sandwich," said Nakasatian.

First the marinade: fish sauce, sugar and garlic powder join coconut milk, and the thinly-pounded pork tenderloin takes a silky, salty bath in it for at least a couple of hours. The relish is homemade as well: shredded daikon and carrot are tossed with rice vinegar, salt and sugar, giving the vegetables a crisp/tart pickled flavor. Mayo is also homemade: sugar, salt, vinegar and eggs are blended, then emulsified with vegetable oil.

When an order comes in, the pork is grilled on both sides and each half of the ciabatta is toasted. After mayo is applied, finely-peeled cucumbers join fresh red onions and jalapenos for crunch and bite. Once the pork is set on top, a huge handful of cilantro gives the sandwich an herbal punch, as the daikon-carrot relish is added for even more crunchy yumminess, but still, providing clean flavors. Nakasatian also has options like a veggie-friendly bibimbop on wheat, or a chicken satay with peanut sauce, and each one has its own set of unique sauces.

"Korean will be this red spicy sauce, Thai would have peanut sauce," he said.

So if you find yourself suffering from turkey fatigue this weekend, and you realize you've had one too many turkey sandwiches, you gotta check out Zenwich, for their Asian-influenced pork, chicken and vegetable sandwiches, that are packed with not only flavor, but texture as well.

416B N. York St., Elmhurst

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