Subway rivals a traditional Japanese sushi roll with its own traditional Japanese BLT
Written by tokyoclub on January 31, 2021
Jared out, luck in!
The Japanese holiday of Setsubun is upon us again! This year it takes place one day earlier than usual which just means we can get our hands on some fully loaded ehomaki sushi rolls even sooner.
For those unfamiliar with Setsubun, it’s a sort of early spring holiday with numerous customs depending on the region but an overarching theme of driving out bad luck and starting anew with good luck.
Stemming from the Kansai region is the custom of eating large sushi rolls called ehomaki which loosely translates to “lucky direction rolls.” This is because custom dictates that they should be eaten while jutting out of the mouth in a certain lucky direction.
It was basically a PR stunt by merchants for Osaka and the surrounding area to help sell their sushi full of “lucky ingredients” during this auspicious time. It wasn’t until fairly recently that the concept spread outside of Kansai, to the point that older Japanese people in the father reaches of the country may have no experience with it.
▼ Our writer from Kansai (left) feeding an ehomaki to an unsuspecting writer from Tokyo (right).
However, being the great business gimmick it is, it’s been catching on really quickly. Now some non-sushi restaurant have even tried to get in on the action with eho-roll-cakes and eho-pizza, which is just a regular pizza folded in two.
Normally such blatant co-opting of a holiday tradition might seem a little gauche, but since the whole point of ehomaki was a marketing ploy to begin with, it’s actually pretty much in tune with the true spirit of the custom.
So it’s also great that Subway has decided to join in on the fun with their eho-subs. These are actually just regular footlong BLT and roast chicken subs, but with a different name and a little cheaper!
They’re only available from 29 January to 3 February, so our writer Saya Togashi hurried down on the first day to try one out for 650 yen (US$6.20). At her local Subway, there were some pre-made eho-subs all wrapped and ready to go, but it’s also okay to have one custom made in true Subway fashion.
In Japan, six-inch subs are by far the standard, so Saya was rather alarmed by the size of this footlong. As tradition dictates, the sushi roll — or submarine sandwich in this case — must be eaten in its entirety while pointing in the lucky direction without cutting or breaking and without uttering a word.
This was beginning to look like a daunting task for our writer who decided to measure and weigh the sandwich for posterity.
The sandwich weighed in at just over 300 grams (2/3 of a pound) and was buckling under its own weight. This made it a little unwieldy to consume in proper Setsubun fashion, but she got ready to give it her best.
Fortunately, the package had this year’s lucky direction of south by southeast printed on it, and because of the ongoing state of emergency she was home alone which made it easy to do so without speaking.
There isn’t much to report on the taste, since this is after all just a regular Subway BLT. The bread was nice and fresh with salty, crispy bacon and firm, spicy ham. Since much of the BLT’s fillings were vegetables, the sandwich wasn’t too heavy on her stomach, and she could just manage to polish it all off.
Also, for anyone who can’t make it to a Japanese Subway during this period, it’s easy to recreate the magic of Setsubun by ordering a regular footlong. All you’d really be missing is the discount and instructional wrapper.