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Masabaga’s Yakisoba Pan Is the Ultimate Carb-on-Carb Indulgence

The $12 sandwich is a hot dog and a stir-fried noodle dish all in one

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A yakisoba pan in a takeout box: a fat torpedo roll overstuffed with stir-fried noodles and garnished with scallions and sesame seeds Luke Tsai

One of the truisms of this pandemic is that diners load up on carbs during times of anxiety and stress — which, one supposes, also means that in times of extraordinary stress, double the carbs are required.

That’s at least part of the appeal of Masabaga’s latest offering: yakisoba pan, a kind of Japanese stir-fried noodle sandwich — a staple of Japanese convenience stores and shonen anime. In the Bay Area, however, you would have been hard-pressed to find one on a restaurant menu before chef Masa Sasaki started serving the sandwiches last month at his Japanese-leaning Oakland burger shop.

For Sasaki, it’s a fun, nostalgic dish that conjures up memories of his childhood in Japan. “When the young kids get hungry, they need a lot of carbs,” he says. “I think every Japanese boy likes yakisoba pan.”

Carb enthusiasts won’t find it difficult to see the appeal: Again, this is a noodle sandwich: stir-fried noodles get tossed in a tangy, savory sauce with a distinct hit of Worcestershire, topped with mayonnaise and red pickled ginger, and then loaded onto a hot dog bun. Voila: Your slippery, slurpable carbs and soft, fluffy carbs, all in one. The sandwiches are technically categorized as a snack food, Sasaki says — but one that’s meant to really fill you up.

Sasaki’s version, meanwhile, is a super-premium version of the cellophane-wrapped kind you might find at a Tokyo 7-Eleven. The convenience store sandwiches tend to be very small, Sasaki explains, and they usually don’t have much meat. But the yakisoba pan at Masabaga is a full-on meal. The noodles are loaded with slices of grilled pork belly, with half a hot dog added for good measure. There’s also some kick from the Sriracha mayo and a delicious zip of ginger that just barely keeps the whole thing from feeling too heavy.

Even better, at $12 the yakisoba pan is Masabaga’s least expensive sandwich — and easily the most filling, and the best deal on the menu. Order online for pickup or delivery.

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