Premium sandwiches

Photographs by Dolly Dy-Zulueta for The Daily Tribune 717 DELI owners Lance Ngo and his Tita Malou Yambao.

The word is out, and it is spreading like wildfire on social media. 717 Deli, a diner specializing in premium sandwiches, is trending. Barely six months into its operations, it is already getting more than its share of food lovers’ attention for all the right reasons. It has one of the best fish and chips in the metro, posts of netizens say. The same beer-battered halibut fish is at the core of its fish fillet sandwich which netizens are also raving about.

I was curious, and I tried them both. The verdict: Yes, they are both really good indeed, so whether you want a light meal or a sandwich, they will satisfy both cravings.

I also met the owners, a young food entrepreneur, Lance Ngo, and her Tita Malou Yambao. The passion and spirit come from Lance, while the stability and experience emanate from Malou, who used to own a coffee shop and a seafood restaurant. As for the concept, well, they were influenced by the sandwich shops they have tried during travels abroad, and both of them love crispy fish sandwich and the classic fish and chips. Lance loved roast beef sandwich, too, so those were the three items that earned automatic checks when they sat down to draw the menu for 717 Deli.

They worked hard on the fish, trying different types of fish before finally settling on halibut because it yielded the best result. The halibut fillet turned out to be very juice, fresh and full to the bite, perfect for the batter that turned out to be so crispy when fried. So, when they hit the perfect formulation for the fish, they used it for both the halibut fillet sandwich (beer-battered halibut, cheddar cheese, tartare sauce, on homemade brioche bun) and the halibut fish and chips (two pieces beer-battered halibut fillets with crinkle fries and dips).

Lance and Malou kept the menu of 717 Deli simple and lean but mean, with halibut fish and chips being the only non-sandwich item on it. The rest are classic sandwiches that they themselves developed: the signature halibut fillet sandwich; Lance’s favorite roast beef sandwich (medium rare roast beef, cheddar cheese, horseradish sauce); Patty Melt (80/20 ground beef, Provolone and American cheeses, caramelized onions and special sauce on loaf bread); Philly Cheesesteak sandwich (thinly sliced beef chuck, onions, cheddar and Provolone cheeses, on homemade brioche roll); and 717 Cheeseburger (80/20 ground beef, onions, American cheese and special sauce). To keep the quality, the breads are all homemade, too.

To dine in or order for takeout, 717 Deli can be found at Blk 113 Building, 53 Connecticut Street, San Juan. It is a pandemic baby whose R&D took place during the pandemic years, and the Greenhills store officially opened only on 2 August 2023. Six months later, here they are, with the restaurant enjoying good patronage from people who love and appreciate really good premium sandwiches. R&D continues and expansion plans are in the offing. Meanwhile, let’s all enjoy classic premium sandwiches at their best.

And, oh, if you are wondering what 717 in the name stands for, it is Lance’s birthday.