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An absolute gem for sandwiches in Lynnwood | Arts&Appetite

 

Last updated 8/11/2021 at 9:08pm

Maria A. Montalvo

Fries and the pork belly at LASA Sandwiches and Pearls.

There is a new sandwich place in town – in Lynnwood, that is.

LASA Sandwiches and Pearls (not the gemstone kind but the traditional Filipino tapioca pearls) recently opened near the Department of Licensing on Highway 99, and it is so good that you will want to renew your tabs in person.

You could easily miss LASA, as it is in the middle of the strip mall to the north of the DOL. Inside, it is bright and welcoming, but very simple (several long, tall tables and bar stools oriented to see the video screen images of the menu and dishes).

This is a restaurant focused on the food.

"Lasa" means "taste" in Filipino, but a more nuanced version of the word. It is taste as in flavor, or to savor something, and every item we tried on LASA's menu was savor-worthy. Filipino cuisine is not as well-known as some other Southeast Asian foods, like Thai and Vietnamese, but its Chinese, Spanish, and Native influences mix to create something very special.

Lumpia (a fried roll that seems like an egg roll and an empanada got together) is one Filipino dish that many recognize, as is its sweet milk flan, but there is much more to love.

The menu at LASA is small, but each item has several house-made ingredients. After considering the six sandwiches, we landed on the Lechon Kawali roll ($14), the pressed adobo ($10), and the adobo fried chicken ($12). As much as I love lumpia, we thought we'd try something new and got the Sisig-style fries ($8) on the side. The three of us split the sandwiches and fries in thirds.

Adobo is a traditional Filipino preparation, usually made with chicken, that involves slow cooking of the meat with vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, and pepper. The pressed adobo sandwich was made with shredded pork, along with Swiss cheese, atsara (pickled green papaya), and sili pipino (cucumber and red onion in fish sauce) on a crunchy French roll.

The pork was so flavorful, and each bite was a textural delight, too, with the bread and pickles. It was my favorite of the three, but just by a slight margin. The adobo fried chicken was also tasty with an exceptional garnish of sili pipino, roasted jalapeno sauce, and lettuce on a brioche. It was a perfect sandwich for the hot summer night in the sunshine, which is exactly when we had it.

The Lechon Kawali was happy decadence in a hoagie bun (a deep-fried crispy pork belly with a wonderfully sweet soy glaze and a chili herb garnish. Light it was not, but the pork belly was so delicious, especially with that glaze – I still think about it. Speaking of dreaming of food, though, the Sisig-style fries are a welcome discovery!

They are hand-cut, a bit wider than a typical fry, but still crispy. Sisig-style means they are then covered in sizzled pork, egg, citrus onion, chilis (yup, a few hot ones), and lime. Anyone who reads this column knows I love potatoes, and especially fries, but wow, these are now a new item at the top of my potato list.

The crispy pork bits were crunchy and tasty while the sweet and spice from the onion, chilis, and lime made each bite a little different but always good.

After so many years in the sandwich business, we can tell when every single element of a dish is selected and prepared to create the best overall experience. That is the way it is at LASA – the different breads are chosen because the sandwich will taste better on them; the pickles and sauces are specific to each item.

Even the amount of garnish was clearly so thought out. It is worth noting that the sandwiches are large and generous with all ingredients, so we were all definitely full.

We had planned to order one of their five desserts (Pearls), but they ran out on the order before us. Did I mention we arrived too close to closing? While the Halo-Halo (classic Filipino shaved ice dessert), looked decadent, I was tempted by the Pina Pearl, a fresh pineapple shake with pearls and roasted coconut foam – oh my goodness.

Next time, I plan to arrive earlier and may just order the Sisig fries (because I don't think I could ever share those again – way too good) and a Pina Pearl.

One thing you cannot do, however, is to go to LASA and expect to be in and out in five minutes. This is not fast food. The sandwiches, and its components, are made to order. The tapioca pearl desserts are made then and there.

They may run out of a menu item (they were out of the steak sandwich by the time we got there late on a Thursday) because they use fresh ingredients. You will wait (we waited about 25 minutes and took ours to-go, although several patrons were eating in) for this wait-worthy food.

Consider it time well-spent, as any good meal is.

LASA Sandwiches and Pearls is at 18009 Highway 99, Lynnwood, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., 6 p.m., or 7 p.m., depending on the day.

Go to http://www.lasasandwiches.com for more information.

 

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