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Valentine's Day

Sandoitchi and Midnight Rambler Collab on a Valentine’s Day Pop-Up Dinner

The roving Japanese sando peddler will bring a five-course tasting menu—paired with barman Gabe Sanchez’s cocktails—for a duo of dinners this February.
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Bret Redman (Midnight Rambler) / Sandoitchi

The usual starter-steak-dessert Valentine’s Day dinner is old hat. This upcoming dinner with Sandoitchi and Midnight Rambler, while still very much about that steak life, looks to be anything but average.

If you recall, Sandoitchi is the much-beloved nomadic sando pop-up with Dallas origins. (If you’ve been living in a cabin, off the grid—can’t blame you, honestly—then catch up here, here, here, and here. If you’re already too online, skip ahead.) After Midnight Rambler reopened with Gabe Sanchez at the helm, the cocktail bar’s been on a hot streak of pop-up collabs as of late. The most recent of which was with Rainbowcat, Misti Norris’ cheffed-up snacky food endeavor that we’re watching closely.

Next up: Sandoitchi and Midnight Rambler join forces on a Valentine’s Day tasting menu with cocktail pairings on Friday, February 11, and Saturday, February 12. Reservations for the meal, dubbed “Yes/No/Maybe” as a nod to those love notes passed to classmate crushes, open on February 6 at 6 p.m.

…we don’t want it to feel too much like a white-tablecloth dinner.

While Sandoitchi’s pop-ups have typically run a takeout operation, this will be a fully fledge sit-down dinner. “I love the space. I love how small and intimate it is,” Sandoitchi chef Stevie Nguyen says, adding, “but we don’t want it to feel too much like a white-tablecloth dinner.” Put another way: forget the fuss and pretension. This will still be a fine dinner but with a pop-up energy. After all, Nguyen and his culinary crew have fine-dining backgrounds and have worked in kitchens like Uchi, Momofuku Ko, and Morimoto. It’s almost like a homecoming. “Dinner is where we really shine; before Sandoitchi I’ve never really done anything to-go or a lunch concept,” says Nguyen, who’s looking forward to showcasing food outside of sandwiches.

The meal kicks off with a wagyu tartare sando—you know there had to be a sando situation in there somewhere—which Sandoitchi diehards may recognize from pop-ups past.

Nguyen is looking forward to serving the wagyu don, a bowl with said wagyu, plus the famously orange-yolked Jidori egg, pickled mustard greens, and koshihikari rice blend. “It’s just something I’ve been cooking a lot at home,” says Nguyen. “Not that I’m saying I eat wagyu a lot, but I want to showcase how we make rice and pair it with high-quality ingredients.” As a pop-up that was built on the fluffy foundation of milk bread, Nguyen welcomes the starch change-up. “I’m so much more for rice than I am for bread, personally,” he says. To which I respond, rice is life.

Of course, they had to consider what they could realistically cook in a small bar kitchen that’s not entirely outfitted with all the fancy equipment or other luxuries, like, you know, space. The rest of the menu looks divine (scroll down for the whole shebang).

Likewise, the cocktails Midnight Rambler has dreamed up for the pairings is giving me all of the heart-eyes emojis. Hitachino white ale sake bombs, truffle butter-washed Toki whisky old fashioned—swoon! I’m this close to asking this menu to go on a date with me. That’s how much the romance is in the air here.

“I’ve known Gabe for some time, since back when he owned Black Swan Saloon, and I trust whatever he does is gonna knock it out the park,” Nguyen says.

Nguyen hopes this Valentine’s collab fuels more dinnertime pop-ups or finer-dining events in the near future. For now, let’s focus on the near future.

Okay, So How Do You Book It?

Reservations open Sunday, February 6, at 6 p.m. on Midnight Rambler’s website. Set your alarms. Mark your calendars. Do whatever you have to do.

Again, dinner dates are Friday, February 11, and Saturday, February 12. The tasting menu is $125 per person with an optional $75 cocktail pairing. Aside from dinner, a la carte options and wagyu sandos will also be available both nights, starting at 9 p.m. Also, Nguyen sends his apology to the vegans and vegetarians—this meal has wagyu throughout.

What’s on the Yes/No/Maybe Menu

Welcome Cocktail

Hot Date: Bonal, benedictine, absinthe, hot water 

First

Wagyu Tartare Sando: A5 wagyu, lebnah, herbs, truffles
pairs with THE OLD FASHIONED FIRST IMPRESSION: truffle butter-washed Toki whisky, demarara, house bitters

Second 

Silken Tofu: Beef lardo, enoki mushrooms, dashi
pairs with WE’RE TOTALLY A THING!!!: Hitachino white ale sake bombs 

Third

Wagyu Katsu Sando: A5 wagyu, karashi kewpie mayo, tonkatsu tare
pairs with WE SERIOUS? WE’RE SOCIAL MEDIA OFFICIAL: Gin and sake martini with miso onions, castelvetrano olives or Ume Collins: shochu, pisco, yuzu, ume soda, shiso leaf

Fourth 

Wagyu Don: A5 wagyu, jidori egg, pickled mustard greens, koshihikari rice
pairs with THERE’S A TEAR IN MY BEER: Hitachino White Ale 

Aperitif 

READY TO START OVER: Midori, vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime granita

Fifth 

Strawberry + Cream Sando: strawberries, chantilly cream, sea salt
pairs with BACK IN THE GAME AGAIN: matcha tea, vodka, matcha syrup, aloe calpico foam

Author

Rosin Saez

Rosin Saez

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Rosin Saez is the online dining editor for D Magazine's food blog SideDish. She hails from Seattle, Washington, where she…

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