The Press is newly launched sandwich storefront of speakeasy bar, Flask. Made famous by their iconic vintage coke machine secret entrance, they intend to do the same with mouthwatering sandwiches now at the front-of-house shop, and that they did.
The Press and all other shops along the shanxi nan lu strip has been closed and walled up, courtesy of the government. You’re not welcome.
Many thanks to owners Kevin and Jackson for the invitation.
The decor is very simple, with very limited seating. The menu is neatly handwritten on a board, and also printed on a clipboard. Walls are left bare in their cement form, with very little decorations, save for a neon sign and a painting of superman eating a sandwich. Overall I thought it felt a little cold and uninspired. I can understand before it was to serve as a nondescript low-key entrance to Flask, but now as a sandwich shop, I felt the decor didn’t do the sandwiches nor patrons much justice. 6/10
As with invited tastings, an unbiased score of 7.5 is offered. It’s not a wine and dine kind of place, so I wouldn’t expect much service. I wasn’t able to test their sandwich-making efficiency that day because other than me, there was only another patron. That said, our sandwiches came out swiftly.
Prior to visiting, I’ve had already fed myself with a couple of other reviews, hence I knew what I was getting myself into. That said, I was a little reluctant at first, because I felt that sandwiches are really quite run-of-the-mill food fare, and difficult to rave about. But rave about, many did, which led my curiosity to check it out.
I made an effort to try some of the items that others had not tried.
The Vampire Avenger (rmb60)
Cool name. This one was two grilled slices of white bread, slathered with garlic and parsley infused herb butter, italian prosciutto and aged cheddar.
Despite it’s simplicity, I enjoyed this sandwich very much. It was easy and comforting to bite into. Once you do, a rush of saltiness from the prosciutto and richness from the cheese flowed into your tastebuds.
The exterior of the toasted bread was light and crusty, contrasting the savoury and creamy filling. Very lovely. All sandwiches came with a small dish of pickled gherkins.
That said, I felt that 60rmb was quite pricey for a sandwich. Eating one of these would not be enough at all. I really enjoyed this one alot, but it’s score is marred by its price. 8/10
The Italian Job (rmb65)
This one had one of the industry’s best-selling keyword: truffle. On paper, truffle, gouda cheese, comb honey on sour dough bread. Sour dough bread meant it will be a crusty bread and would be slightly course and airy inside. I’m not a big fan of crusty breads, because i tend to end up scraping off gum tissue while biting into the crust. This time was no exception. The gouda cheese was a milder but equally addictive alternative to the aged cheddar. Truffle flavours were faint, but noticeable. What was most prominent was the sweetness from the honey. They were an intriguing combination, of truffle, honey and gouda cheese — One that I do not disapprove of. However, I felt that while this sandwich had all sorts of flavour going on, it lacked substance. It felt like literally two pieces of toasted sourdough bread with melted gouda cheese in the middle. That’s it. For 65rmb? Compared to the previous Vampire Avenger which is 5rmb cheaper but at least had some meat in it? You decide. Again, marred by a matter of value. 7/10
The Nacho Cheese (rmb65)
Next up was the popular nacho cheese. This one was unanimously the crowd media favourite and I’m happy to wholeheartedly concur. Sliced avocado, aged cheddar, boiled egg slices, jalapeno and married with mayonnaise and sriracha. This one used white toast, which again, seems to be my favourite.
While this was conceptualised to contain everything you find in nachos, in a sandwich, I felt it lacked certain important components like refried beans and sour cream to be truly a nachos sandwich. That said, it was a very hearty and deliciously fulfilling sandwich. The jalapeno and sriracha gave the sandwich spicy accents between bites. It would be interesting if this sandwich was served with nacho chips! This is one I would think about returning for. 8.5/10
The Wake-up Call (rmb65)
The final savoury sandwich we sampled was the wake up call. One that was touted by Rachel Gouk of ShanghaiWOW as the elevated version of McDonalds sausage McMuffin. This was a burger-like sandwich, using white bap, with spanish chorizo, fried egg, more aged cheddar and married together with spicy tomato chutney with sriracha. A very wholesome and fulfilling sandwich. Perhaps the only one that we tried that I would consider as meal on its own. The chorizo was fat, flavourful and came in big chunks. The fried egg was de rigeur. The overall pairing, abit heavy but I’m guessing this was the Big Mac or Whopper of The Press, so it’s rightfully so.
What I didn’t like, was the bread. It was dense and chewy throughout. A soft fluffy bun would have been much better. Perhaps a brioche. Pity. 8/10
The S’mores (rmb45)
We only had room for one dessert sandwich, and chose the S’mores. Toasted marshmallows with hazlenut crumble, bound with nutella spread between white toast. Seems to me the white toast sandwiches are winners. This tasted luxurious in the mouth, with melted marshmallows oozing out between bites. Abit sweet, but overall, it did the job. I am predicting the ladies to go gaga over this one. 8/10
In conclusion, I enjoyed many of the sandwiches at The Press. I liked the idea of hipster sandwiches, with unconventional pairings like the Vampire Avenger and Nacho cheese. What I felt needed tweaking was the value of the items, perhaps either tweaking the prices or adding more value to the sandwiches. Because if you compare the Italian Job, Nacho Cheese and Wake-up Call sandwiches, which all cost the same, you find that their values don’t seem to equalise.