Not all sandwiches are created equal. Some sammies are meaty monsters without an ounce of veg, while others can be all about the bread. The beauty of the sandwiches at Ike's is their ability to be optimized the way you want, from the type of bread (get the Dutch Crunch) to additonal fillings and "extra dirty" toppings like stuffed jalapeno poppers and mozzarella sticks. In addition to a name, each sandwich is assigned an arbitrary menu number and that correlates to a unique recipe, including those on the secret menu — it's the reason you'll see 3030 aka the Steph Curry below 1102 aka the Alan Wong.
On Halloween 2007, Ike Shehadeh opened the first Ike's Place in San Francisco's Castro Village to no customers. Standing on a street corner in a Winnie the Pooh costume, he couldn't even give away his sandwiches — discouraging him to the point that he closed the shop for a week to sulk. Although his start was slow, he eventually became the sandwich king of the Bay. His San Francisco location is known to serve 1,200 customers Saturdays and Sundays. Today, Ike's has more than 40 locations across California, Nevada, Arizona — and as of Sept. 10, Hawaii.
Like its mainland locations, Ike's offers both meaty and veg-friendly sandwiches, many slicked with Ike's famous creamy garlic mayo "Dirty Sauce" and other popular sauces like "Ike's Yellow BBQ," which happens to taste just like Teddy's Bigger Burgers tangy secret sauce, a personal favorite of mine. Prices hover around $9 to $12 and go up to $40 for The Kyrptonite, a behemoth of a sandwich that apparently feeds up to four people and has just about every ingredient under the sun.
So what's different about this location? The menu is not as extensive, but offers a good taste of what Ike's is known for: solid sammies with bold flavors. The Hawaii exclusives like the Lord of the Flies and the Joe vs the Volcano seem to be haphazardly layered with pineapple and teriyaki and are of no interest to me. I did, however, have a taste of the Alan Wong which, if you're curious, was created with his help.
With basically all boxes checked in the meat department save for fried and Halal chicken, this is one loaded sammie. It's served hot on Ike's famous Dutch Crunch bread, named for the crunchy mottled crust made of rice paste slathered on prior to baking. The roll is sweet and soft and soaks up most of the sauce without becoming soggy. Remarkably, you can taste each slice of meat individually. If you're hungry, up your serving to a half-pound for $4 more.
If you care about your appearance, be wary: These sandwiches come double-wrapped for a reason as leakage is almost guaranteed and multiple napkins are a must.
The Steph Curry is a simple turkey sandwich but with a generous squirt of "Yellow BBQ" sauce, which is a tangy take on a traditional ketchup-based barbecue sauce. The yellow is from yellow mustard. It goes well with the mild turkey and the sweet roll, with added acid from the pickles and heat from the jalapenos. It's perfect sammie chemistry in your mouth.
The Jaymee Sirewich is one heck of a flavor bomb. Simply put, it's a fried chicken sandwich doused in that addicting yellow bbq sauce — what more could you ask for?
From my first few bites of Ike's, you can color me impressed. The hype of these subs lived up to my expections as a diehard sandwich lover. Next on my list to try are any one of the vegan and vegetarian options that make up the other half of the menu.
Ike's Love and Sandwiches
1450 Ala Moana Blvd
2nd Floor Lanai Food Court
10 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily