We investigate another possible case of a “paper tiger” sandwich in Japan.

When our reporter Yuuichiro Wasai  stopped by Lawson to buy something for lunch the other day, a new product in the sandwich section beckoned to him with its “新発売” (“shinhatsubai”) “new release” sticker.

He instinctively reached for it, and when he saw that it contained a Chicken Cutlet, he was sold, popping it in his basket to take home. However, upon arriving home and taking a closer look at the packaging, he saw that the sandwich didn’t only contain a chicken cutlet, as the large font in English and Japanese suggested.

▼ There, in smaller font, and only in Japanese, were the words “キャベッツ入り” (“contains cabbage”).

Fried cutlets are often served with cabbage in Japan, so this immediately piqued Yuuichiro’s interest. However, the only thing was, there was no cabbage to be seen. Fearing this might be another case of a deceptive “paper tiger” sandwich like the one that caused controversy at 7-Eleven, Yuuichiro opened the sandwich up for a closer inspection.

Yuuichiro counted about ten pieces of cabbage in total, and they were tiny, similar in size to chirimen-jako (dried young sardines). However, given how small the font advertising the cabbage’s existence was, Yuuichiro figured it was a sincere way of letting everyone know it was in there, without drawing unnecessary attention to it.

Putting the sandwich back together again for a bite, Yuuichiro found it to be absolutely delicious. And what was surprising was that the cabbage made its presence known on the palate, despite being there in small quantities.

It was just the right amount to make it feel like a chicken katsu — without it, it would’ve tasted bare and inauthentic, but with it there in small amounts, it allowed the cutlet to shine like a solo player.

So in the end, Yuuichiro decided this wasn’t another case of a paper tiger sandwich. Lovers of cabbage with their katsu might not be so kind, though, especially given its relatively expensive price point of 387 yen (US$2.80) per pack.

Still, hats off to Lawson for trying out new things with their sandwiches recently. They even have a new egg sandwich duo, designed to get egg lovers to try a plant-based alternative. Who knows what they’ll come up with next?

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[ Read in Japanese ]