Anna King Shahab goes in search of the best sarnies in and around Auckland City.

Eat My Lunch and one of its key suppliers, Farmland Foods are teaming up on May 16 to host the ultimate sandwich-making contest.

Bloggers and chefs will have a set amount to spend on ingredients, then battle it out to construct the winning sandwich, judged by Eat My Lunch's Michael Meredith. Which got us thinking about the humble sandwich and how darn good it can be. Like all of us, Meredith has a few favourites when it comes to layering the perfect sandwich.

"I love good pickles and condiments and some vegetables - tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados are a must," he says. "I also love halloumi, Swiss cheese or mozzarella. For the meats, I love a mild salami, mortadella or something smoked. And, of course, leftovers from the night before, with horseradish and wholegrain mustard or mayonnaise is delicious."

One of the marvellous things about sandwiches is the many guises they can take. The basic tenet of carbs surrounding a tasty filling allows for endless translations, and it's great to see influences from many cuisines stake their place on the sandwich scene these days - that said, there'll always be a place in our hearts for the perfect cucumber club.


In celebration of the humble hunger-buster, we've put together a guide of some of our favourite sandwiches in the city.


A Hawker + Roll concoction leaves your mouth watering.
A Hawker + Roll concoction leaves your mouth watering.

Evidence that the sandwich world can (and should) evolve can be witnessed it the hawker rolls that fly out of the kitchens at Madam Woo and Hawker + Roll. Chef and co-owner Josh Emett says of the essentially hybridised offering, "I had a habit of ordering beef rendang and wrapping it in roti, so the hawker roll is my translation of that, blending Malaysian flavours with the iconic flaky roti in one delicious mouthful." Their seven different filling options include percik chicken and sticky spiced pork, or vegetarian fillings like soy and sesame eggplant or dahl and cauliflower, with bedmates like pickled cucumber, lettuce, chilli and spring onion.


Shawarma from Petra Shawarm.
Shawarma from Petra Shawarm.

Jordanians are masters of stuffing pita with succulent, spiced, grilled meat, so you can trust that the ex-pat Jordanian Omar sisters at Petra Shawarma know how to roll. They keep their rolls simple: fragrant and moist grilled chicken, lamb or falafel with hummus and pickle, and leave the salad on the side, which is where it should be in this situation.


The owner-operators of Fort Greene are up before the birds to bake the bread that's the foundation of their impressive line-up of sandwiches, and they make as much possible of all their sandwich building blocks in-house. I maintain that there are just not enough Cuban sandwiches in this city, but hooray that a good one can be had at Fort Greene. Their versions pair free-range Cuban-style barbecued pork with spicy dill pickles, Swiss cheese, coriander mayo and lettuce.


A Reuben from Daily Bread.
A Reuben from Daily Bread.

The brisket-in-bread game is peaking right now, with several places excelling in the field. Daily Bread's reuben starts with their 100 per cent rye sourdough (for which the starter is 600 years old and the dough is proven for 48 hours). They then add wagyu pastrami cooked in the Kamado Joe grill, with sauerkraut, Mahoe gouda and Dijon mustard. Pastrami and Rye smoke their brisket then steam it leaving it oh-so-tender and - bonus - they take orders via their website or app. At The Grounds, Ben Bayly will fix you a sammie with your choice of house-made pastrami or corned beef. Those of us who grew up avoiding too-salty, dry corned beef should prepare to be amazed by the tender, flavoursome version, which he partly puts down to great product. (He sources his beef from Magills Butchery in his hometown, Te Awamutu, proudly family-owned and operated since 1939.)


Ima, in Fort St, serves a mean sabich.
Ima, in Fort St, serves a mean sabich.

If you follow the Instagram of Yael Shochat, owner of Ima, you'll experience sandwich envy every time she travels to her homeland, Israel. Luckily for us Shochat has introduced the classic Israeli sabich to her menu at Ima. It comes bursting with eggplant, potato, boiled eggs, hummus, tahini, Arab salad, red onion sumac salad and an addictive Iraqi pickled mango condiment called amba.


The Lucky Taco's lucky lengua.
The Lucky Taco's lucky lengua.

A taco is basically a sandwich - heck, it's the only sandwich that owns a day of the week. And if you're looking for the city's most taste bud-teasing taco, you'd best check out The Lucky Taco's lucky lengua (lengua being tongue - a beef tongue taco). Co-owner Sarah Frizzell says if you're picturing a rubbery experience, think again: "Due to the length of time we cook it, the texture is really melt in the mouth, which surprises people."


The Hero, from Hero Sandwich Shop. Photo / Greg Bowker
The Hero, from Hero Sandwich Shop. Photo / Greg Bowker

Saving the day for the hardworking and hungry are the sub-style rolls at Hero Sandwich House. Owner Huri Rapana Neill went to great lengths to come up with the perfect rolls to house his fillings, in collaboration with Il Forno bakery. "It's a bit of a hybrid. I wanted the crisp exterior of a baguette but a softer, less chewy interior." Buttermilk creates the perfect texture for the flavours to sink in. Among the choices is a vegetarian thing of beauty: grilled eggplant and halloumi with caramelised onion, coriander and harissa mayo. Hero Sandwich House, 66 New North Rd, Eden Tce.

Sandwiches for all situations

The 1am kerbside:

a cheese toastie from The White Lady. Whatever the filling (simple cheese and onion is my pick), it's pure hot, melted late-night bliss. The cheese dreams will be worth it.

The hangover cure: all other hangover cures are myth, but the chicken salad sandwich from Federal Delicatessen truly does the trick: a juicy mix of roast chicken with mayo, herbs and capers, a bit of the crisp skin (I will never truly relate to anyone who eschews chicken skin) with crisp iceberg lettuce and a side of unctuous gravy.

The snack size bargain of the day: the jambon baguette from La Voie Francaise. Cured ham, Swiss cheese, mayo and a few rocket leaves in arguably this city's best baguette. When you don't want a behemoth of a meal, this $5 deal will plug the gap nicely.

The nostalgia trip: Mustard Kitchen do a mean white bread, egg and cress sandwich. Classics never die.

The cultured sandwich: at Te Tuhi Gallery in Pakuranga you can get an art fix followed by a delicious sandwich at Small Fry Cafe. Owner Ruby White makes her own sourdough rolls and fills them with such delights as chicken marinated in laksa paste, with tamarind mayo, Ruby's nasi lemak dukkah (crushed peanuts and a secret ingredient), bean sprouts and coriander.

Missing in action: try as I might, I've not been able to find a honourable rendition of the British classic, the ploughman's. Whether served up already in the bread, neatly cut into two, or with the components laid out on a chopping board in an assemble-your-own fashion, the ploughman's is a pub lunch staple (best enjoyed with a packet of crisps and a pint of ale) that's mysteriously absent on these shores. If you know where the best ploughman's action is at in Auckland, please let us know.