Fast Food Review: Jr. Ham & Cheddar Sandwich from Arby’s
“Value Menu” and “variety” don’t often go along so well in the same sentence. Sure, you’ve got Taco Bell’s “Why Pay More” options offering something a bit more “ethnic” (hat tip to my man Jaz) and you can always customize value menu options at an additional charge, but more often than not fast food value menus revolve around the staples. You know what I’m talking about; a small burger, a chicken sandwich, fries and a small drink. There just aren’t a ton of variety or choices outside of the usual offerings. That is, unless your talking about Arby’s.
Arby’s $1 Menu isn’t extensive, but it does offer something a little different than the proverbial small burger and fries. True, traditional value menu items like a Jr. Chicken Sandwich are spotlighted on the menu, but you can also get a small Jamocha shake, curly fries, and of course a Jr. Roast Beef Sandwich. But of all the options on the Arby’s Value Menu, the most interesting might be the Jr. Ham and Cheddar Sandwich.
Oven roasted ham piled on a toasted sesame seed bun and topped with creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
I’m kind of amazed more fast food places don’t take advantage of ham. It’s lean, flavorful, and usually works well with cheese, and given that it can be propped up with a crapload of solution, it’s not all that expensive to serve either. While I wasn’t expecting my order to look exactly like the website picture, even I was a bit disparaged at how small the wrapper containing it was. My fears only grew when I opened the paper to find a rather squished looking bun spilling over with a liquidy yellow substance.
There was too much cheddar sauce to be sure, so much so that I ended up scraping some of it off. The sauce itself is more liquid goo than “cream,” and seemed to have texture reminiscent of cheese whiz. It was salty and a little oily, and the flavor came off as highly artificial. Still, it had a curiously addictive taste of fake cheddar, and was nice and warm on the ham. As for the ham, it didn’t seem nearly as enhanced as I thought it would be. The four slices were cut thin and didn’t reveal any large strains of fat, while they also displayed the subtle taste of a smoke flavor. They were somewhat crispy and looked like they had been through the microwave, which actually played well considering how gooey the cheese was. Again, the flavor came off as artificial , but not necessarily bad. That being said, the sweetness of the ham was tough to notice. Deeper and almost hickory like, it wasn’t the honey roasted or black forest type sweetness you sometimes get from processed ham, and it only hits you after you’ve had a moment to chew on it.
Unfortunately, the bun was pretty depressing. While it tasted fresh and was moist on top, it soon gave way to the moisture in the ham and the cheese sauce, becoming soggy despite its toasted bottom. Overall, the predominant flavor of the sandwich was salty, while the texture and mouth-feel was chewy and gooey. I also thought that the sandwich seemed very small, although it was moderately filling for it’s tiny size.
Sounds disgusting, right? Oddly enough, I really liked this sandwich, and found it to be kind of a guilty pleasure. I do think it has some serious structural and execution flaws, and obviously it needs more sweetness and acid to counteract the salty taste. Fortunately most Arby’s have more than enough BBQ sauce to help you out there, I and would advise trying out your favorite sauce (personally, I like mustard with ham) on this. The sandwich’s structural and taste issues aside, it’s a novel menu item, and a nice change of pace at a really good value. Likewise, the nutrition numbers (200 calories, 5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat) are impressive, even if the sauce you get on the sandwich pushes it beyond the website numbers. Is it worth buying? At a buck I think so, especially if your suffering from value menu burnout and are looking to try something new. Pair it with a small shake or small curly fries and you’ll have yourself a nice little guilty pleasure of a meal that won’t kill your wallet or your belt.
Pros: Lean and smoky ham has good flavor. Nice and warm. Cheap eats. Cheddar sauce is curiously addictive. Only 200 calories. Goes well with BBQ sauce. Nice change of pace if you're looking for an alternative to a burger or chicken sandwich. Relatively filling.
Cons: Messy. Lack of balance. Needs element of sweetness. Way too much cheddar sauce. Tastes too salty, even for salt fanatics. Bun could use some help with moisture element. A bit on the tiny side.
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00/10
Price: $1.00 More Info: Arbys.com
Arby's Jr. Ham and Cheddar Melt
Calories from Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Sodium: 890 mg
Total Carbs: 26 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 13 g