Each time I’ve passed the brick building where Sushi on a Roll, “SOAR,” hangs out, I remember what Jeff, the super sushi chef, told me: “On Thursdays and Fridays we turn the space over to Christian. He’s got a seafood-sandwich business.”
Now that I think about it, you never do hear about interesting fish sandwiches. This could be something new.
It’s Thursday. I’m aboard the 929, heading through Barrio Logan down National Avenue. I see the brick building and a banner hitched to a wire hurricane fence bursting with purple morning glories.
“SUPER Natural Sandwiches. Supernaturally good,” it says. It has a picture of a kraken with that big central eye.
Two minutes later, I’m off the bus and heading down into SOAR’s passageway. There’s a brick building on the left and a metal building on the right and tables lined up on either side.
At the end, they’ve set up a counter under a yellow umbrella. A girl in a pink T-shirt stands behind it. There are a bunch of seashells on top, a green felt octopus, a cashbox, a “Tipsy or Beer Fund” jar, a pile of menus, and a cooler with bottles and cans floating in ice water that the sun’s melting by the minute. Hanging on the wall are green SuperNatural T-shirts, a Neptune’s three-tined fork trident, and a sign: “Release the Kraken!” (Oh, yeah. Liam Neeson doing — overdoing — Zeus in Clash of the Titans, right?)
Lord. Looks like I’m the only customer here. Well, it is 2:00 p.m. That’s when they close. Hope I’m not too late.
“Would you like something?” says the girl in the pink T-shirt. Hannah.
“You’re still doing sandwiches?” I ask.
“Oh, yes,” she says.
She picks up a SuperNatural menu and hands it to me.
“What’s the name mean?” I ask.
“‘Super,’ because they really are super,” she says. “And ‘natural,’ because they use only sustainable and local seafood.”
The menu has seven sandwiches, with a supernatural sea creature’s name attached to each. There’s the Harpy (named after the bird-women who steal your food when you’re wrecked on a deserted island). It’s a wedge of toasted bread with “shrimp, balsamic, and bacon,” plus some sauce and salad ($9).
The Hydra (“many-headed water beast”) is stuffed with blackened tuna ($9). The Siren (“beautiful creatures — women — who lure sailors to shipwreck”) has spicy garlic shrimp ($8). The Nessie (after the Scottish loch monster) is filled with “miso glazed fish of the day” ($9). The Kraken (Scandinavian sea monster) comes loaded with Thai red curry crab ($10). The Neptune is a mix of scallops and bacon ($9). And the Kappa (named for a mythical Japanese river-child, like the Scottish kelpie) is basically a spicy crab melt ($10).
Dang. These guys really researched their sea lore.
I’m dithering as usual when Christian Eggert comes out.. He’s one of the guys who started this place, Hannah says. “He’ll help you decide.”
“Our dream is to make the seafood sandwich as available as the hamburger,” Christian says. “We’re still working our way into this idea. Trying to make it easy for everybody to access all the fabulous fresh local seafood we have right here in San Diego.”
Wow. So, what to eat?
Christian says I should try the Neptune. “We’ve got these scallops from Baja. They’re not frozen — they’re dry diver bay scallops. That means they’re caught by divers, not dredged off the sea floor, and they’re packed dry — no chemical salt water to plump them up, no preservatives. So they’re tastier — and more expensive.”
Long and short is: I get one ($9). It’s a pile of those scallops on a wedge of bread, with smoked bacon, spicy aioli, avo-ponzu (avocado and that citrusy, rice-wine Japanese sauce) and greens in a crispy brioche roll that’s beautifully tender inside. Comes from Bread and Cie, Christian says.
I sit down with it at one of the marble tables lining the passageway. Gadzooks, but it’s good. The bacon gives a salty edge to the buttery scallops, and the ponzu gives a rice-wine twang to the whole thing.
It goes well with a bottle of (green activist and actor Ed) “Begley’s and Bill’s” lemon-lime soda ($2).
Finish my Neptune. Gotta get another one — something different? — to take with me. After some thought, I go for the Siren (garlic shrimp with a garlic aioli, tomatoes, and white cheddar).
Take it home to Carla.
When I get out a knife to split it, she says, “Uh, no. You’ve had yours.”
She does give me a corner, though, and oh, yum. The shrimp are great. The whole thing is one long garlicky, bready mess.
Christian told me that three of his buddies are in the venture with him. Tony Nguyen, Chris Perczichino, and Anthony Tran. “Plus, my wife is Thai,” he said. “So, there’s plenty of Asian influence, like with the Kraken sandwich.”
Are there cheaper sandwiches around? You betcha, ’specially here in the barrio. But I understand. These guys are into classy, interesting seafood and, like my dry diver scallops, you know a lot of this stuff doesn’t come cheap.
My only regret is that I didn’t try the Kraken crab cakes with Thai red curry ($10). Christian’s Thai wife would have made sure that curry tasted right.
Shades of a new myth: How powerful is it to eat these sea-sandwiches? Christian said that since they started the biz, three of the four spouses have become pregnant, including his wife.
“I’m not claiming,” he said. “I’m just sayin’…”
1620 National Avenue, Barrio Logan
1735 National Avenue, Barrio Logan
The Place: SuperNatural Sandwiches, 619-356-1992. For locations, go to supernaturalsandwiches.com; Wednesdays and Sundays they’re at San Diego Public Market, 1735 National Avenue, Barrio Logan, 619-233-3901; Thursdays, Fridays at Sushi on a Roll (1620 National Avenue)
Prices: The Harpy (shrimp, bacon) $9; The Hydra (blackened tuna) $9; The Siren (spicy garlic shrimp) $8; The Nessie (miso glazed fish) $9; The Kraken (crab in Thai red curry) $10; The Neptune (scallops, bacon) $9; The Kappa (spicy crab melt) $10
Hours: Check website: supernaturalsandwiches.com
Buses: 4, 11, 901, 929
Nearest bus stop: National Avenue at 16th Street (901, 929); 12th and Imperial Transit Center (4, 11, and 901, 929)
Trolleys: Orange Line, Blue Line, Green Line
Nearest trolley Stop: 12th and Imperial Transit Center