If you are a big fan of sandwiches or meat, there’s a high chance you have heard of Katz’s Delicatessen. Located at East Houston Street in New York City, this Deli has been around since 1888 and was made popular by the immigrants who would gather there on Fridays to enjoy beans and franks. Fast forward a few hundred years, Katz’s now holds multiple awards among which the biggest one is perhaps their name on the Bib Gourmand list. According to the Michelin website the Bib Gourmand list spotlights restaurants that serve “high-quality meals which include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less.” Thus, when I visited New York last summer, I made it a must to try their famous Pastrami Sandwich.
I won’t deny that upon entering the deli, I wasn’t really pleased. It isn’t necessarily the cleanest but with hundreds and even thousands of tourists coming from all over the world just to try one of the best selling sandwiches on Earth, you can’t expect the cleanest environment. You get handed over a ticket which you cannot lose at any cost. You are to hold on to it with your dear life till you are to leave as they take it back at the door (which is quite an inconvenience if you ask me). We didn’t have the best experience ordering either, it was confusing with many lines to go to, the cutters were rude, and it was hard to get a seat too.
We ordered the Pastrami sandwich with a side of fries and a canned coke. Katz’s uses meat that comes from the navel end of a cow which is where the best pastrami comes from. They cure the meat for 2-4 weeks, apply a secret rub, and then smoke it for several days. The master cutters’ at Katz’s have been doing their work for a very long time with perfection. You can ask them for more fat or more meat if you want but I let them do their regular work.
Now comes to the taste, I was slightly disappointed that the rye bread wasn’t slightly toasted. The deli sandwich looked very simple; had layers of pastrami and some pickles on the side. At first bite, I was honestly shocked; it was way too bland. After adding some mustard to it (which I highly recommend) it gave some flavor to it but was still too bland for my taste buds. I know that food fanatics might be after my life for saying so but I had to convey my personal opinion that for South Asian taste buds, this may be a sandwich which is too bland. I would at least prefer to have toasted bread for the sandwich. The fries were good but it was just fries, you can’t really mess that up.
In all, to me, Katz’s Delicatessen is a hype and tradition made for and by tourists. With a price tag like that, there are many other Delis in New York that sells better options for sandwiches.