Well, you’ve got to give the folks at Pillow Talk cafe in Pasadena some credit: They certainly know how to spot a trend. The brand new coffee, pastry, and sandwich shop on Lake Avenue has only been around for five weeks, but they’re already turning heads thanks to some, ah, specific influences in their food. More to the point: Pillow Talk’s sandwiches, and their branding, look exactly the same as Konbi, the Echo Park restaurant that recently landed as the best new restaurant on Bon Appetit’s annual list.
Seriously, look at this. Here’s a shot off the famed egg salad from Konbi
And here’s a shot taken by Eater last week at Pillow Talk:
Then there are the boxes. Konbi’s packaging is on the left, Pillow Talk’s is on the right:
Both places also offer a tamagoyaki sandwich. Let’s see:
Now, a few things. First, Konbi has never claimed to have invented the egg salad sandwich, even in this specific form. They openly acknowledge that Konbi riffs on the sandwich from Lawson in Japan. What’s more, the tamagoyaki sandwich is also not unique just to Konbi, though the tri-cut presentation and the white box with colored band (wrapped just inside the box’s edge) certainly stand out as signature moves for the Echo Park restaurant.
Nor is Pillow Talk the first restaurant to start “riffing” on Konbi’s own riff in the wake of Konbi’s big win on one of the nation’s most influential restaurant lists; New York City has a bunch of knockoff spots all its own. Konbi already has a rather prominent Instagram following too, and has been favorably reviewed by the LA Times (which also references the tiny shop’s “cult following” right in the headline. That’s all to say: The egg sandwich at Konbi is not hard to discover, or hard to rip off. But it does take some gall.
Eater reached out to Pillow Talk to discuss the similarities, but so far they have declined to address the matter. Both employees working at the restaurant last week claimed to have never heard of Konbi when asked in person.
Regardless, the company is currently being besieged on Instagram with comments from Konbi loyalists saying things like “way to be original,” “this looks familiar,” and “what a cheap knockoff.”
Pillow Talk. 526 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, CA.