Like a supermodel in a burlap sack, some sandwiches, no matter how sloppily presented or haphazardly photographed, sell themselves. Others don't strut into the room. The tonkatsu sandwich at Wako Donkasu isn't ostentatious. It may even look like "the last hors d'oeuvres on the platter on bridge night." It's white bread, pork and sauce. That's all. The visual minimalism offers no hint of the satisfaction this sandwich provides.
With a couple of locations in Koreatown, Wako specializes in tonkatsu, panko-breaded cutlets (most commonly of pork) fried to a tantalizing crunch. They'll fry just about anything: chicken, pork, even a brick of cheddar cheese. Nearly everything is served with their signature tonkatsu sauce, a medium-brown concoction that's mashed tableside with a bowl of sesame seeds. Wako's tonkatsu sauce is creamy and less tart than the traditional stuff, more the consistency of gravy.
Wako's tonkatsu sandwich is the ugly duckling of the menu, often ignored in favor of the various fried cutlet combos that come with udon or soba. Covered in tangy, red sauce that oozes from the fluffy bread with every bite, the sauce says Texas barbecue more than traditional donburi. As a bed for the light, crisp, expertly fried cutlet, it's superb. If the McRib was a lot more distinctive, more delicious and more a child of Koreatown than Ray Kroc's corporate test kitchen, it would be Wako's wonderful tonkatsu sandwich.
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Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.