Jewish Deli food is a serious must for anyone staying in the Big Apple. Chicken noodle soup, creamy chopped liver and sky-high pastrami sandwiches are all typical dishes in these much-loved NYC institutions, perfect for a quick bite during the day or a sobering snack at the end of a long night out.
Katz Deli, year upon year, tops lists as the number one deli in New York. Their pastrami sandwiches draw in locals and tourists the world over, who come in the hope of leaving as pleased as Sally was in the famous scene from the well-known and loved rom-com, When Harry Met Sally.
While I refrained from reenacting the scene, it was fair to say my pastrami sandwich was orgasmic. Flavorsome, soft rye bread encapsulates the two-to-four week cured beef, which is salty, soft and filled with flavor.
The beef used to make these serious sandwiches has been cured, rubbed, smoked, boiled, and lastly steamed for ultimate flavor and texture. The results of this laborious process? Some absolutely beautiful meat, covered in a peppery skin with a melt-in-your-mouth softness for texture. The selection of pickles which come along with your sandwich add a great vinegary tang to each bite, and with a touch of mustard I’d say this sandwich reaches its peak of perfection.
Despite the gigantic portion of pastrami I had just confronted, I was eager to try out some of the desserts on offer. New York cheesecake was a no-brainer, but I was left curious about a ‘noodle pudding’, also know as a kugel or lokshen pudding. My mum told me it was a traditional Jewish dessert made up of cooked pasta, and that she had only ever know herself and her own mum to be fans. Given that it got the thumbs up from none other than mama and grandma Bidmead, I felt it was only right to give it a go, despite how weird it sounded.
The noodle pudding was pretty much as described – thick, pasta-like noodles cooked and compacted together, mixed in with raisins and baked. Obviously that isn’t all there is to this dish, and the addition of tasty and health-giving things such as cream and butter resulted in what turned out to be quite a tasty dessert. Perhaps I wouldn’t jump to order it again, and may potentially prefer to keep my pasta as part of my main, but I did actually enjoy it. As for the cheesecake…it didn’t stay around long. With practically no biscuit base, it was a slice of pure, unadulterated cream cheese delight.
Katz Deli was as much a cultural activity as visiting a New York city museum or gallery. From the packed out dining room to the chaotic ticket system used to pay the bill to the cashier out front, it felt like we were seeing some real New York City action. Who cares if it’s mainly filled with foreign tourists staring hopelessly at their 7-inch sandwiches and the fact that the process of getting served is a bit chaotic? Sit down, roll up your sleeves, and have what she had in New York City’s number one deli.