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Yonah Schimmel is a disgrace

  • f

Okay, okay -- there are enough knish postings, especially on tired old Yonah Schimmel. There's no need for another.

But I need to vent.

I knew this place was mediocre, but I was in the neighborhood and it was lunchtime. It had been years since I was there, so I foolishly decided to give it another try. What a joke. Soggy potato balls with, in my case, canned friggin mushrooms. No flavor, no crispness whatsoever, just bland mush. Dousing it with salt and/or mustard would've helped, but not much.

If you defend this place, you must not know knishes. It could only mean you think canned mushrooms are okay, soggy outsides are okay, "spinach" knishes with something like 3% or less spinach are okay, etc. Go ahead, make the case for Schimmel.

How does this place survive? It's not like it's in the middle of a tourist area. Are there really enough nostalgic people to support this pathetic effort?

Let the nostalgia die. If you're new to town or otherwise find yourself on 2nd Ave and Houston, wondering if you should have a knish, don't.

I gather from the message boards there are a couple places left that do passable-to-very-good knishes, deep in the heart of Queens. Hmmm. I'm not sure if I'm up for the pilgrimage. Anyone out there with information to prove that Manhattan and northern Brooklyn (where I live) are not a totally lost cause?

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Yonah Schimmel's Knishes
137 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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  1. I no knish maven, but do mushrooms even belong in a knish?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Nor'easter

      Yes, especially fresh portobellas. I once had the most delicious mushroom (main ingredient) + potato knish at a restaurant in Calgary. Went well with the venison steak.

      1. re: Nor'easter

        >>>do mushrooms even belong on a knish?

        -I don't know if they belong on a knish. I leave that to the food historians. I'm no purist, and I don't mind classics sitting side-by-side with updated, revisionist versions (up to a point -- no foie gras-and-fresh-thyme knishes, and no cherry jubilee bagels, please).

        So put mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, kasha or cheese in your knishes. Just do it right!

        1. re: Fred

          well as far as mushrooms in poland or russia if they made meat kinishes which means liver they might of added dried wild mushrooms if they haed it..a kinish is peasent food and a reginal food item, so it would depend whos making them and were..but since potatoes were so cheap they were the most often used filling and kasha is a grain popular in russia and poland but it is usually mixed with potatoe to hold the filling together...prorably used if there was leftover cook kasha and boiled potatoes...,what to do with leftover bits best to wrap them in a flour casing a dumpling or boil fry bake it..every ethnic style of food has a version of the same things and there always 99 percent of the time peasent food..where food was presious and to waste was a sin and unthinkable...some of the best dishes in all cusines came along for this very reason, utilize reginal and not to waste food

        2. re: Nor'easter

          ive never heard of it before. if anything it has to add water to the mix. YUK

          1. re: beermug

            the best knishes i ever ate where they were really perfect and made from scratch. they peeled the potatoes and they chopped them by hand after cooking etc. came from Gallishoffs on riving ton just east of allen street. It was the finest dairy restaurant on the lower east side. Yonah
            schimmels is not good at all.

            1. re: goosey1

              well, i am bias, i will say the best knishes i ever ate were the ones that my family made down on the boardwalk in Rockaway back in the 1960's . at 35th street. In fact there were two places that had knishes, Sams Bar & Grill [which sold Hebrew National hotdogs, and handmade knishes, Potato and Kasha and cherry and blueberry cheese. And the knishes were nice size, baked [not deep fried in grease], for only 25 cents!!! Was great to go to the beach have a hotdog, knish and a beer whatelse do you need? :)
              The other place was Jerrys Knishes which was just down a ways on the boardwalk too!! also good quality.
              I long to taste those again but sadly thats just a memory now, like those places that existed on the boardwalk long ago.

              1. re: beermug

                Absolutely right. I spend my entire childhood in Rockaway for the summers and the best food, including Jerry's knishes, was on the Boardwalk between 30th and 35th Street. Their cherry cheeses knishes were to die for. Not to get away from the topic of knishes, but how about the Tuckee Cups? Wish I could go back to those wonderful days. That was when food was pure and so were we!!!

                1. re: RosanneEG

                  Wow, Jerry's knishes. I used to eat them too. Wasn't fascination , Jerry's also?
                  I know this is manhattan board. But i haven't had any good knishes in Manhattan. Knish Nosh in queens is very good.

        3. I totally agree! I just don't understand how anyone with taste buds can enjoy Yonah Schimmel--they have no taste. this is not about authenticity, it is about a basic lack of yummyness. but many chowhounds seem to disagree, sigh... Otherwise I think so highly of you all!

          4 Replies
          1. re: D-NY

            I regret not having gone into Schimmels years ago when I first stumbled upon it, when it might have still been good. Will I die never having eaten a good kinish???

            1. re: xavier

              not to be banished to the outer boroughs board, but for what a knish should be, head to Knish Nosh on Queens Blvd - you won't be disappointed.

              1. re: xavier

                I went to Yonah Schimmels in the late Sixties to mid-Seventies, and even THEN it wasn't very good (but it was a place to sit with something warm on a cold day). Anything from a food cart was better. Now that they microwave, it's even worse. Head to Queens and stock up. Trust me- I live for knishes.

                1. re: addictedtolunch

                  This is good advice -- look in the outer boroughs. I was pretty disappointed with the knishes I tried in Manhattan -- at Yonah Schimmels and elsewhere.

            2. Maybe the problem is with knishes. I understand these remarks, but the Yonah Schimmel knishes are the only ones I have ever tried which were any good at all. I didn't get to Mrs Stahl's until it turned into a pizza joint.

              Can anyone name a knish in Manhattan which is better than these?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Wilfrid

                The knish they serve at Katz's is better than Yonah's.

                  1. re: Nina W.

                    I don't either is as good as the one at 2nd Ave Deli.

                  2. re: Wilfrid

                    Try Carnegie deli. Katz is good for meat sandwiches, but i dont buy anything else there.

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                    Carnegie Deli
                    854 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                    1. re: beermug

                      Katz's is also good for a hotdog and matzah ball soup. (You have to like the hocking big matzah balls. If you are a small matzah ball fan, skip it.)

                  3. Yonah sucks. And a knish can be made out of most anything, including liver.... my paternal grandmother made lima bean, cabbage or sweet rice knishes. Unfortunately Yonah's are just tasteless....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: howboy

                      I agree, is he cooking for a nursing home or what?????????

                    2. Zabar's has knishes that are heads above Yonnah's.. some of the more unorthodox ones (particularly the brocolli and cheese) are extremely good, but even the potato is much better..

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jesse

                        I also love the Broc + Cheese from Zabar's.
                        A cheap tasty easy dinner.

                        1. re: ronasanchez

                          Oh, good. I was going to say that I loved the knishes from Zabar's, but I don't know from good knishes and totally didn't want to out myself as a novice knish-eater. Yay Zabar's!