The idea for the Tibetan Triple Decker came to me while eating gyuma ($8) at Phayul. A few bites of gyuma ($8) had brought back happy memories of my father grilling up huge batches of sausage and peppers and serving sandwiches to my extended family at my annual birthday barbecue. With the addition of a bit of chili paste the beef blood sausage fried up with onions and red and green peppers tasted just like my 40-year-old memories of hot Italian sausage. This would make a great sandwich on a steamed tingmo, I thought to myself.
A few weeks later I returned to Phayul eager to try this Italian-American-Tibetan sandwich. I pantomimed to the harried waitress that I wanted a tingmo ($1)—the yeasty Tibetan bread—cut in half horizontally and a plate of gyuma. “You know, for a sandwich,” I said as she nodded. In a few minutes she returned bearing a plate of blood sausage and a tingmo that had been cut in three vertically, like a loaf of bread. I shook my head and explained again that I wanted it cut in half horizontally. A few minutes went by and she returned with a plate containing another tingmo. It had been diced into small stuffing-like chunks. By now the gyuma was getting cold and patience was wearing thin, but when one is possessed of an idea as brilliant as an Italian-American-Tibetan sandwich perseverance is crucial. Once the seed is planted it must be brought to fruition.
My agita subsided a bit after another waitress assured me I would be brought a laterally halved tingmo, When the third tingmo arrived cut in three I almost had a moment. Anger changed to joy with the realization that I could make a triple decker. First a slab of tingmo slathered with chili paste then some blood sausage and peppers, then another bread slab painted with the red sauce typically eaten with momo, then more sausage, then the top layer of bread.
The end result was spicy as hell but delicious. The pillowy bread soaked up the hot sauce and juices from the blood sausage perfectly all the while maintaining the sandwich’s structural integrity. And to think some people say I have forsaken my Italian-American roots.
Phayul Restaurant, 74-06 37th Rd., Jackson Heights, 718-424-1869