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East Coast West Delicatessen

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  • Andrew Raskin Aug 2, 2001 05:36 PM
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So I'm walking along Polk St to catch the 1 bus at California (my car is still in the shop), when my chow-antennae begin delivering rapid pulses to my brain saying, "stop. turn left. enter." I looked up, and I was standing in front of East Coast West Delicatessen (1725 Polk/California), a new Jewish deli that had opened its doors for business exactly one hour earlier.

I figured I'd judge the place on their knish and go back if that was good. I placed an order with Robbie, who seemed like the owner. He gave me a knish, but I was surprised that it was so small for $2.50. Sure enough, as I waited to pay, Robbie came over and plunked another knish in my hand. "Sorry, today's our first day and the chef made em too small," he said.

I ordered potato knish, but I got meat instead. Any complaints over the mixup vanished when I tasted this knish. It was round, first of all, and the skin is relatively thin. Inside, it was a whole mashed up flanken thing, with all the vegetables/spices that it cooks in. This is a very good knish. I dare say one of the best I've had, even after growing up in NY.

On my way home a couple hours later, I stopped in again. By this time, it had been discovered. Most of the ten or so tables in the back were filled, and a few people waited in line to order. I got an order of potato latkes, chicken noodle matzoh ball soup and, of course, more knishes.

It probably should have taken about 1 minute to put that together, but they were definitely ironing out the kinks and it took about 15 minutes. The waiter was yelling, "I need that soup hot" and Robbie was ordering his assistants to call up right now to get a new toaster. Two or three people behind the counter were peering into the toaster they had, searching for the problem, sort of like how I was peering into my engine when the brake light began flashing.

The latkes are made from shredded potato, which I like better than the kind that is more uniform, and they came with a very nice pink applesauce. And they were just greasy enough, not laden with it. The matzoh balls are light but have texture, not the character-less spongy kind you sometimes get at delis. Robbie's grandmother would be proud.

If someone goes and has the pastrami, lemme know what you think.

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  1. Maybe I won't have to move back East after all...did they have sour green tomatoes?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Dixieday
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      Andrew Raskin

      I didn't see em, but on the menu I took with me there's an item called Sour Tomato for 75 cents. Just below kreplach and Kosher pickle.

      Also, I forgot to mention: they make egg creams too. With seltzer from a real glass seltzer bottle, and U-Bet chocolate syrup.

      1. re: Andrew Raskin

        That's great! because I was in Palo Alto the other day, and when I ordered an egg cream at the Peninsula Grill (otherwise a pretty great place), the waitress asked if I wanted it chocolate or strawberry. Strawberry egg creams! My grandmother, may she rest in peace, would be turning over in her grave. I thought I'd heard everything, what with the jalapeno bagels and sun-dried tomato cream cheese here, but that was a new one. I guess it would be too much to ask for free bowls of pickles and sour tomatoes on all the tables....

        1. re: dixieday
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          Andrew Raskin

          Apparently it's 75-cents-per-pickle/tomato too much to ask.

          1. re: Andrew Raskin

            The place rocks. Try the desserts. The cheese cake, the ruggalach, the chocolate cake. Could pass for fudge if you cut it in squares. They got slammed the first day. Now slowing down to get it right. Greatest matso balls I have had since mom's.

    2. I've been waiting around 6 months for this place to open ever since I read about it. Thanks for the headsup - I think I know where I'm getting today's lunch!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: srf1

        My thoughts - Total teething problem with the staff right now - just opened, basically training under pressure. However, the food looks great. Latkes, brisket, meat loaf - everything looks authentic. Meats sliced upon ordering. I will definitely go back. Ordered a pastrami reuben to give it a try. Well, after first recieving the wrong sandwich, they remade it but accidentally did half pastrami half corned beef. I'm not a real corned beef guy, so that was a bummer, but the pastrami was very good. The sauerkraut they use is a little overpowering, but all in all a very good sandwich for SF. Maybe over time they'll get even better, but it's still no Stage or Carnegie's etc (but what else is?). I just have never had pastrami like good NY deli pastrami. The pickles aren't worth .75 - too much salt in the brine, but the sour tomatoes were very good - sliced one up and it was great eats. Like I said, I will go back (probably quite a few times), as the only thing close to this is Moishe's Pippic, which never really gets my blood boiling. Hopefully, the staff will settle in and we have a keeper. Thanks again for the heads up, Andrew.

      2. Really grateful for the update on this long-awaited deli. It would be great too if posters included hours or phone numbers for brand-new places whenever feasible.(My deli cravings have always been late-night occurrences!)

        1. j
          JenniferFishWilson

          Finally--a decent deli in SF. No service issues, staff was great--very attentive--came to table several times to make sure everything was ok. (Took my son in the kitchen when he thought he spotted a Einstein doll. Turns out it was Jerry Garcia. Robby (?) says he's always had a Jerry Garcia in every kitchen he's ever run.) Was afraid they'd be overwhelmed after yesterday's SF Chronicle review but all was fine. Andy's right--great latkes. Not wild about the matza ball soup--not their fault--lots of carrots and chicken; good texture for matza ball--I just don't like dill in my chicken soup. Good sour tomatoes (not 75 cents a piece; 75 cents for a bowl full!). Pastrami was great--almost as good as Katz's--that's the highest compliment I can pay. Loved the cheesecake (not Kantor's but good)--dense, creamy. Someone asked about hours: 10-10 daily.