Tampa Sandwich Bar: Killer Cuban sandwiches with a pinch of sunshine
Opened late last year in the trendy area of Yeonnam-dong, Tampa is a picture-perfect recreation of a beach-side Cuban sandwich bar. Established by two close friends, Geun Min Kang and Hyun Min Cho, and named for the home of the Cuban sandwich— – Tampa stays true to its beachy vibe with its bright-yellow walls and laidback American Jazz. The restaurant also serves both craft and generic US beers (KRW6,000-9,000) as well as a solid Cuba Libre (KRW10,500), making it the perfect place to escape for a relaxed lunch or dinner.
The Tampa Cuban Sandwich (KRW13,000 on ciabatta;, KRW12,000 on baguette) gets the balances of the strong flavors of salami, Mojo Ppork, Ssweet Hham, sharp mustard, and Swiss Ccheese just right. Hidden inside a deceptively simple sandwich, the Cuban Mojo pork is marinated for 24 hours and then slow cooked for 3 hours to tenderness for another three hours, for thatcreating an incredibly juicy and rich flavor with an undertone of citrus and herbs. Tampa offers a variety of fries as a side;, but instead of the usual potato fries, give their home made sweet potatoes fries (KRW5,.000) a try. They are delightfully chewy and, crunchy, with a slight sweetness, and even come with a serving of whipped cream.
Another spin on the Cuban sandwich is the Miami Cuban Sandwich (KRW10,000 on ciabatta,; KRW 9,000 on baguette), which has thin slices of pickles instead of the salami, adding another layer of tanginess to the sandwich. Tampa offers both baguette and ciabatta option as an alternative to the traditional Cuban bread. The ciabatta is a little dense, and the baguette a little flakey, in comparison to Cuban bread, but both of them do a good job of delivering that crunchy eggshell bite to the sandwich.
After extensive research and trials, the ownerspair decided to expand their menu beyond the Cuban sandwich to include a variety of choices including Mac N’ Cheese, Shrimp Po’boy, and Chicken Fillet Sandwiches (KRW8,500-11,700). One of their newest additions is their only dessert: deep fried Oreos (KRW3,500). Fried with a layer of pancake batter, the Oreos are soft, and chewy, and curiously free of grease. One order (five5 cookies) is ideal for two people and pairs surprisingly well with a cold glass of beer. One can only imagine how well it might pair with the recently added Banana Bread Beer (KRW9,000).
It is surprising to learn that the owners had never been to Tampa but started the sandwich bar to bring unconventional sandwiches to its diners. However, their research and devotion to to the original flavor recently earned them high praise at an event they hosted for Florida locals in Seoul. Geun Min and Hyun Min are planning to compete in a Cuban sandwich competition in Tampa Bay next year but until then they’ll continue to bring a little bit of that Cuban flair to Korea.
Written by: Yoo Jin Oh
Photos by: Paola Fox
Address: 12 Donggyo-ro 28-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Telephone: 070 8156 0930
Open from 12 – 10PM from Tuesday to Sunday (reservation only on weekdays)