SAVING THE DAY FOR SANDWICHES & MORE IN DOWNTOWN
From Chef Eric Park of Black Hogg in Silver Lake comes Hero Shop, a downtown sandwich haven dedicated to banh mi goodness. Located in the former Babycakes location next door to Cole’s, Hero Shop’s menu includes meaty sandwiches along with veggie options and rice bowl selections.
A cozy café, the interior at Hero Shop is sparse but its menu is loaded with hearty flavors. During our recent visit for a weeknight dinner, we opted to share several menu offerings; probably more than recommended but each dish seemed to satisfy and satiate.
We started with the Headcheese, a light and satisfying mix of house-marinated pork head cheese (FYI, head cheese is not a dairy cheese but rather a meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig or sometimes sheep or cow), house pâté, cilantro, jalapeño, pickled daikon and carrots, shaved onion, and mayo. This sandwich just screams picnic.
The Cold Cut is fresh and flavorful and a delightful combination of head cheese, pork loaf, spicy ham, house pâté, which is so delicious you should get an order of it on its own, cilantro, jalapeño, pickled daikon and carrots, shaved onion, and mayo. While this sandwich is one of the most standard ones on the menu, sometimes simple is best.
If you want a more daring sandwich, you can’t go wrong with the Sardine (yes, sardine), made with Spanish canned sardines, shaved onion, pickled daikon and carrots, and mayo. While I usually only go for sardines when there’s nothing left in the kitchen, my friend from Spain who I randomly invited explained sardines are a delicacy in Spain and this proved to be one of his favorite sandwiches. To my surprise it was spicy and delicious.
Likewise, the Blood Sausage & Peppers, made with Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), house pâté, sautéed Pasilla peppers and the usual banh mi ingredients, was extremely tasty.
The Chorizo, made with thin sliced chorizo Pamplona, is a little spicy, think pepperoni, while the Spice & Sour Chicken is reminiscent of ceviche. Wanting to try one of the Bowls, we went with the BBQ Pork, mixed with BBQ Heritage pork, cilantro, jalapeño, pickled daikon, shaved onion, fish sauce vinaigrette, sous vide egg, coconut rice and sesame seeds—delicious. I really liked how the coconut rice added a little sweetness to the dish.
Chef Park and his team have really crafted a first rate sandwich shop dedicated to banh mi.
"I actually love the idea of a banh mi - pork parts, pâté, cilantro, pickles, peppers on flaky soft bread,” Chef Park has said. “But I have yet to eat one that satisfies. Usually it lacks in substance or the bold flavors fall short. I'm going to make them how I would love to eat them."
Hero Shop is located at 130 E. 6th Street. Open Mon-sat from 11am to 9pm. Call 213-265-7561.
Story By: Jose Martinez