Food Trend: Numa San


I tend to notice food trends in the instagram/blog world, and they’re always so fascinating to me. I’ve started researching and testing and eating, and I decided to share my findings here.

The first trend I’ve focused on is numa san, a “fat sandwich.” You can find it on instagram and such under the tag #numasan. It’s all the rage in Japan right now.

I learned about numa san from my friend Ai, who does an amazing job of documenting everything she eats (and she has done so for years). She shared a bit about this sandwich on instagram, and I immediately became obsessed.

From what Ai has told me, and what I’ve gathered and translated from around the web, the craze started when a potter named Michiyuki Onuma in Japan made this sandwich for his wife, who then shared it on instagram. He kept making them, and she kept sharing them. I think he was eating a breakfast of bacon, bread, and cabbage, and he realized he could put them all together and avoid dirtying a pan or even having to use chopsticks. I don’t often see sandwiches in Ai’s photos, so it makes it even more interesting.

The basic sandwich has toast filled with bacon (which really looks more like ham in the Japanese photos), cheese, a mound of shredded cabbage and onion dressed simply with mayo and black pepper, and whole grain mustard. There’s a TON of cabbage in there, mounded right in the middle, which makes the sandwich fat and happy. It’s a regular sandwich, but thick and crunchy, as the cabbage doesn’t wilt like lettuce does.

I tried this out today, and made a few notes for future trials. Below are the method and my notes.

  • Use a toaster oven, and toast one slice of bread topped with bacon and cheese, and the other slice plain.
  • Use a mandoline to slice the cabbage really thinly (but be careful, I cut myself today), then dress with a bit of mayo. Next time I might add thinly sliced onion and carrot and some freshly ground black pepper.
  • Spread the plain toast with whole-grain mustard. You can add more toppings here – I added sliced avocado.
  • Mound a ton of the dressed cabbage in the middle. Here’s what the right amount looks like – enough to fill a rice bowl.
  • Top with the other toast and slice in half widthwise.
  • I’d like to try this with a thick-cut white bread, or maybe even Texas toast. The toast in the Japanese photos seems really light and fluffy.
  • There are endless variations – sliced boiled egg, ham, turkey, sliced tomato, pickles, tuna, leftovers (!) – as well as changing the cabbage dressing to a vinegar-based one, or adding shredded carrot, radish, turnip…
  • I have to work on the proportions – mine isn’t as super-packed and mounded in the middle.

Update: My second attempt turned out even better! 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.14.42 PM

So that’s where I am with numa san! It’s fascinating – something as simple as a sandwich with cabbage can sweep the web and become a food trend. And now I have a new option for lunch. 🙂

3 responses to “Food Trend: Numa San”

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  3. Darius and I plan to try this out next week! You might try “Tous Les Jours” on Lamar for thick white bread? It’s a French-Asian bakery, and a the “panbreads” they carry look like the ones I’ve seen on Ai’s blog.

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