The Salmon & Wasabi Cream Cheese “Sandwich” at Au Bon Pain

Being from a Jewish family, I’m a big fan of the smoked salmon.  Lox or nova… doesn’t matter which one, just slap it on a bagel with some white fish, cream cheese, onion (and sometimes tomato) and you’ve got one of the greatest meals of all time.  Thank you to the Eastern European Jews who brought this delicious food over at the beginning of the last century… 

Flash forward to the 80s, and Jews all around the country (actually it was probably just in New York and Miami) were trading in their parents’ smoke fish for raw fish.  Sushi was the new “it” food, and Jewish kids everywhere must have been thinking the same thing I was thinking the first time my Dad took me for sushi (“This is the weirdest chinese food I’ve ever had”). 

Now, I don’t know what genius came up with this one, but I’m guessing at some point one of these Japanese chefs said “Hey… Jews seem to love this bagel with cream cheese and salmon thing… let’s add cream cheese to our salmon maki!”  And thus, the “Bagel Roll” was born… also known as the Philadelphia Roll or sometimes the JB Roll (the Philadelphia I understand- because of the cream cheese, but I’m scared to know what JB stands for.  Could it possibly be Jew Boy???  That would be insanity…)

Anyway, flash forward another 20 years and it looks like Au Bon Pain has decided to take this marriage one step farther… reclaiming the salmon & cream cheese bagel- but keeping the Wasabi.  What the hell kind of craziness is this?  I don’t normally eat at chain sandwich places like ABP, but I could only manage walking by the sign 3 times before finally breaking down and trying this “Salmon & Wasabi Cream Cheese Sandwich” at Au Bon Pain.

What the actual thing looked like (nothing like the sign of course…), and the +/- after the jump…

Usually a Bagel with Cream Cheese & Salmon in New York City is at least $6… and can sometimes be as high as $11 or $12 depending on the place, the quality of the smoked salmon and how much they give you on the bagel (beware of the capers, that usually means you’re in a nice place and it will be more expensive)… but I was pleased to find out that this one is only $3.95.  That of course should have been warning number one.  (Actually, warning number one was the word “Wasabi” w/ Salmon & Cream Cheese.  The price was warning number two.)

It turns out the sandwich is actually a breakfast item… which would totally make sense if it wasn’t for the wasabi.  Who the hell wants to eat Japanese horseradish for breakfast?  (I’m sure some Japanese person- or know-it-all-american person is now going to comment that tons of Japanese people enjoy wasabi with their breakfast… but I’ve never been to Japan so I don’t actually know.)  Despite it being a breakfast item, they had one bagel left (at 12:30pm) and were willing to make the sandwich for me.  I would imagine every ABP serves the sandwich until they run out of bagels, the time of which may vary from store to store.

Overall the sandwich had about an interesting taste as you can imagine.  First off, the “wasabi” is actually an Italian style vinaigrette, with a very strong and spicy flavor of wasabi.  It was squirted over chive cream cheese and then topped off with just enough dark red/orange salmon to cover the bagel in one thin layer… nothing like the delicious looking pink/orange salmon beautifully draped over the bagel in the picture.  The cucumber added nothing, and the bagel was crap, but what do you expect for $4 I guess.  All in all it didn’t taste terrible, but the wasabi totally overpowered the salmon… and I still don’t understand who would want to eat wasabi for breakfast.  Not terrible, but not great…

THE + 

  • It’s smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel for $4 in Midtown.  Not a bad deal.
  • If you think you would like Wasabi, on your bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon Au Bon Pain will do it for you!
  • It’s supposed to be for Breakfast but they are totally willing to make it for you for lunch, if there are bagels left.  Just make sure you tell the cashier to switch to the breakfast “keypad” to ring you up.


  • Not that much salmon, and it doesn’t look as good as the salmon in the picture (big surprise)
  • The wasabi flavor overpowers the whole thing (I almost tempted to go, and ask for the bagel with cream chese and smoked salmon- no wasabi)
  • Why would you want to eat wasabi for breakast???
  • It’s at Au Bon Pain… I usually hate these places.  I just couldn’t resist the signs…

Au Bon Pain, Multiple Locations in Midtown

  • Newscorp Building, 1211 6th Ave., NYC – **Location Closed**
  • 1251 Ave. of the Americas, NYC – 212- 921-5908
  • 125 West 55th St. (btw. 6+7th), NYC – 212-246-6518
  • 420 Fifth Ave., NYC – 212-730-5401
  • Macy’s Department Store, 151 W. 34th Street, NYC – 212-244-5573
  • 875 3rd Ave., NYC – 212-355-8020
  • 16 E 44th St., NYC – 212-867-6356
  • 444 Madison Ave., NYC – 212-759-1762
  • 600 Lexington Ave., NYC – 212-223-8679


  • Sorry about your disappointing smoked salmon bagel experience. The next time you’re jonesing for one, I recommend the one at Citarella over on 48th and 6th Ave. It’s $4 – $5, and, even though it’s not the heartiest meal, it’s quite tasty, and they put in a notable amount of good quality salmon.

  • LOL. Wasabi at breakfast? In the form of a salad dressing?

    I’m no expert but I was in Japan last year briefly. I enjoyed eating miso soup, vegetable curry, and rice for breakfast. No wasabi in sight as far as I could tell.

    I’m back at work in White Plains and missing the hubbub of midtown. Anyone want to offer me a job in the city?

  • I had breakfast last Monday at the Tsukiji-market in Tokyo – the yummiest sushi I’ve ever had. And yes, I had wasabi for breakfast.
    Sadly, I am back at my cube in midtown. :(

  • What? I actually love this sandwich, and for days on end I would keep going back for more – maybe it was that the first time it was made for me, the lady put double salmon; maybe I just love wasabe flavor, but really, it’s all about the textures and the kick. Get the bagel toasted. (And readers – it isn’t a wasabe-flavored vinaigrette, it’s got a thick duck-sauce-like consistency and is the best vehicle one could come up with for spreading the wasabe flavor without putting customers at risk of an employee’s uneasy hand.)

  • Hm, I don’t know about wasabi for breakfast… haha. The first time I heard a philly roll called a bagel roll was about a year ago, but there was also… a bagel… around that roll. (I didn’t try it. It was $12 and possibly disgusting, so I opted out.) But.. thanks for trying it? *shivers* The sauce sounds disgusting, but for $4, you can opt out of the wasabi vinaigrette and maybe make it a win-win.

  • I recently started working in the Newscorp building and my coworkers are all freaks who never take lunch so as not to draw attention to myself I’ve been forced to grab quick snacks from the Au Bon Pain downstairs. It’s a disheartening place (the ABP, I mean, not Newscorp–well, that’s another story) but this salmon wasabi bagel sounds exactly like the thing to perk up my long days. Plus, it falls under my $5 lunch limit.

  • ….I’m hungry now!

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