The Cat-Su Club: A Hot Dog That Is, Definitively, A Sandwich

By Lizzie Takimoto | Will Blunt


Lizzie Takimoto
Will Blunt
Illustration by Jessica Deahl
Illustration by Jessica Deahl

Few things are as synonymous with Chicago’s food scene as the hot dog. Upon opening pop-up Cat-Su Sando, Chefs Will Schlaeger and Shawn Clendening accidentally channeled the energy of Chi-Town’s food gods into one of their Japanese-inspired sandwiches. 

Like finger sandwiches at a tea party for giants, sandos are full of pristine layers, savory or sweet, that are spread edge-to-edge with care. One of Cat-Su’s earliest inventions was the Cat-Su Club, a club sandwich that ended up taking on the flavors of a Chicago hot dog. After tweaking the recipe, the final sando starts with the classic shokupan, or milk bread, triple-stacked, fluffy, and crust-less as a soft, sweet contrast to the savory fillings. The chefs use oak-smoked turkey and Spam to mimic a hot-off-the-grill frank—meaty, salty, and charred to perfection. The layers of provolone, caramelized onions, shredded lettuce, and lemon mayo with celery salt mimic the acid, tang, and crunch familiar to the Chicago dog connoisseur. 

But the pièce de résistance is arguably the Spam jam, a chunky condiment made with yellow mustard and sport peppers, combining the ultimate Chicago dog toppings into a salty, creamy spread. “We didn’t plan it,” Clendening says. “We were just like, ‘Holy hell, we made a dog sandwich.”

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