single serving: breakfast sandwich at central station deli....in chinatown??!
There is this odd little part of town somewhere between Broadway and Vallejo where Chinatown ends and North Beach begins. It becomes this odd mix of shops that seem to slowly morph from Asian influenced to Italian like you are walking through some kind of inception-ish Dr. Strange world. When you look the places up online, the Chinese shops say they are in Chinatown, the Italian ones say North Beach. Gotta play to your audience, right?
I found myself over here one day on the advice of a co-worker who mentioned a spot they wanted to try but had not gone to yet called Central Station Deli. I'm all up for trying a new spot so why not. When I get over there, they can say this is North Beach all they want, but the space is a tiny sliver amongst a host of Asian businesses and I almost missed it except for the chalkboard sign out front.
Walking in it has the look and feel of a deli with a case along the right side displaying meats, salads in large bowls and an array of baked goods to choose from. Scanning the menu I start to shrug, ugh, a bunch of $10 or more sandwiches and I am almost immediately turned off. Then I notice they serve their breakfast sandwiches all day, which re-perks my interest. Though I am almost turned off again by their roughly $8 pricing. Reading a little closer, seems you can get your sandwich on either one of their house baked breads: sourdough English muffin or cheddar biscuit. And each looks to be of ample size. At this point, I'm here, I'm hungry, it's late, let's just get it and go.
I picked their "Gone On Arrival," fried egg, cotto ham and Vermont cheddar on a cheddar biscuit. It was made to order s they asked how I wanted my egg, which was a nice touch. When it was all put together, it was definitely a nice looking breakfast sandwich. The biscuit was almost a round, ovalish shape and was really more biscuit meets dinner roll as opposed to an old school thing you might get at Brenda's. Wasn't a bad thing though as it still had a nice texture and they toasted it up to add a little outside crunch and then PUT BUTTER ON IT! Imagine my surprise, I didn't even have to ask. It just added to the already buttery flavor of the biscuit as is, and was a nice touch.
They fried my egg just slightly hard and not runny and then put the cheese on top before on the biscuit so it could be all melting and gooey, they way I like it. Add in a couple of chunky slices of slightly salty ham and voila! Breakfast. Taking one bite altogether and poof! A mouthful of yummy breakfast. A little buttery, a little salty, a little cheesy and some bread--all the things to make nice filling breakfast, even though this was my lunch. What can I say except I liked it a lot and would rank it as a top five breakfast sandwich around town. And I think I have had enough to make that distinction. The full on price is the only thing holding me back on going all in. It is big yes, but not Devil's Teeth Baking big, maybe a buck less and I'd be having it a couple times a week. (On a side note, you can also get it with bacon, so maybe next time.)
While I was waiting for them to pull together my biscuit, I scanned the food case and saw a pan of this:
Mashed red potatoes mixed with sausage, covered in cheese and baked like a casserole. The guy behind the counter said it was something one of the cooks grandmother used to make. I asked how much and he said $3 a slice and for that price, sure.
Turns out, you get a big honking slice that feels like a two pound weight. It is thick and heavy! And what you see is what you get. Meaning, it tastes exactly like what is in it. Potatoes, sausage and a little cheese. It is basically a mashed potato bomb, all it needed was to be heated up with a little butter and maybe a sprinkle of black pepper. And for what it was, it was pretty good. Think of it as an alternative to hash browns for breakfast. Of course, having it with the sandwich above was even a bit much for me. I had to cut it in half and save the other part for another time. Together, they will definitely fill you up in the morning. Healthy, no in the slightest, but definitely tasty!
While I can't really see myself splurging on their pricey sandwiches, I would definitely go back for the breakfast sandwich now and again. I would even go back just to get the biscuit, which by itself, is $3 and comes with a side of butter and jelly. Add in that potato thing and it's carb delight! They also had some hot dog sized house made pig in a blankets for $6 and the salads were about $3.50 for an 8oz container, which isn't too bad. So if you find yourself wandering the edges of Chinatown and in need of quick bite, Central Station Deli is nice alternative to the more touristy spots on the main drag. And who knows, maybe the outer edges of Chinatown and North Beach will just melt away into a cheddar biscuit haze---with butter!