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Langer's Hand Cut Pastrami - Overrated!

HAHA, Just kidding, I thought it was divine. Just wanted to stir things up on the message board.

I finally made it before their 4pm closing time, and ordered the hand cut pastrami on rye, mustard only. Great great sandwich. I love the mouth-feel, the overall "lusciousness" of the meat, something very surprising. Heck, even the rye bread's toasted crust tasted great. All in all, finally worth it.

That being said, it's still easier for me to get a sandwich at Brent's.

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  1. Is there a real difference between hand-cut and machine-cut? I finally made it to Langer's last week. I didn't realize you were supposed to ask for hand-cut.

    I ordered the plain hot pastrami on rye. I was completely underwhelmed. I was shocked because after the posts on this Board, I was expecting nirvana. I found the meat kind of dry and not all that flavorful. I had to douse the meat with mustard to give it some kind of flavor.

    As I said, I had no idea you were supposed to ask for hand-cut. They had posted in the window an article from the 1980's (I think) how Langer's hand-cuts all its pastrami and if you have to ask for it hand-cut, it doesn't count. I guess times have changed.

    I did love the atmosphere of the place - the big picture windows overlooking MacArthur Park; the feeling of stepping back into the late 1940's; the great waitress. It's only the pastrami that didn't do it for me. It really didn't taste that much different to me than the mail-order Niman Ranch pastrami that I ordered recently.

    16 Replies
    1. re: omotosando

      Went two weeks ago and the #19 - hand cut was nirvana! I was trying not to eat the entire sandwich and then before I knew it, the sandwich was gone!

      1. re: misseatalot

        Yes, #19 is the way to go! I think it is fantastic!!

      2. re: omotosando

        Whaaat? No flavor? I don't know what to say to that as it goes against pretty much every Langer's pastrami experience I've ever had (and there have been far too many...!)

        The only thing I can come up with to explain your experience is perhaps you are not an experienced pastrami devourer... Langer's is very consistent (sometimes fattier than others, but that's the extent of it) and they truly dish up the best of the breed (and this is coming from a born-and-bred back easter who has eaten at many of New York's top pastrami spots... in fact one time I did a side-by-side sandwich comparison with Katz's deli in NY... that took a little doing to set up).

        I've thought of one other possibility... against the advisement of our server, my sister once decided to order her Langer's pastrami sandwich "lean cut" (for several $$ more) and it was extremely bland compared to the real thing. Did you happen to order the lean cut?

        One thing to realize is that a huge part of the reason that Langer's is so good is because of texture. Go to the Ralph's deli and get sample slice of whatever schlock they've got in the glass case, then go to Langer's. Most pastrami you'll encounter in this world is closer to Ralph's (chewy, bland, rubbery) whereas Langer's in unbelievably tender, succulent, mildly peppery and flavorful. A hint of Gulden's deli mustard really enhances the flavor (god oh god no French's yellow mustard PLEASE!). The crisp edge of the rye bread contrasts with the soft interior and the tender meat. As your teeth sink into the sandwich you get this wonderful blast of different textures, flavors and sensations.

        If you get any of the add-on monstrosity options which pile on the thousand island dressing, cole slaw, and swiss cheese (good lord! you'd think goyim were running the place!) then you are drowning out the delicate texture and flavor of the pastrami as it was meant to be loved and all the efforts of generations of Eastern European Jewish immigrants are in vain.

        Give my Ralph's experiment a try...... eat some other random jewish deli style pastrami sandwiches around town (as opposed to the Johnnie's/The Hat variety of pastrami sandwich), and then report back!

        Mr Taster
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        1. re: Mr Taster

          Speaking for the goyim, cole slaw, 1000 island dressing and ANY cheese need not apply for any pastrami sandwich I eat at the pinnacle!!!

          1. re: carter

            Praise Jesus!

            Mr Taster
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          2. re: Mr Taster

            I just didn't think the pastrami was as good as pastrami that I have had in the past, such as at the late 2nd Avenue Deli. It was dry and could have used a tad more fat. I didn't order the lean cut, but maybe that is what I go. Or maybe it was because I didn't ask for hand-cut. I dunno - is there a bad (or less good) part of the pastrami that someone has got to get?

            1. re: omotosando

              Many times I have asked for hand cut, and many others I forget to tell them. To be honest, I've never noticed that big a difference in quality. Maybe I need to do a side by side comparison to confirm.

              But "not enough fat" has *never* been a problem... in fact it is my overwhelming experience that Langer's tends to err on the "too much fat" side, when they err at all.

              The *only* time I have had dry/less flavor pastrami is when I tasted my sister's lean cut. That's it-- in fact, in February I catered my Chinese/Jewish wedding with 5 lbs. of Langer's and so am intimately familiar with it... still washing the aroma out of my tuxedo.

              Mr Taster
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            2. re: Mr Taster

              Mr. Taster-- I am pleased to report that we did exactly the same thing a few years ago. My husband brought a large slab of pastrami back from Katz' and we had a pastrami-off. He is a good good man. Langers was deemed superior but we decided the contest was unfairly biased in favor of local product since we had to steam the Katz' meat ourselves. Still...

              1. re: JudiAU

                i was recently at 2nd ave deli, before it closed, and the pastrami there was no better than nate n al's.

                langer's is completely better, and head and shoulders above the crowd, even above katz's because katz's bread isn't as good at all.

                1. re: kevin

                  My memory of the 2nd Ave Deli is the same, but it's been about 6 years since I was there so I reserved making a comment about it.

                  And I totally agree that Katz's "bread-out-of-the-plastic bag" is really what kills it when compared to Langer's more rustic, toothy steamed toast (though I think Katz's may just barely edge out Langer's on the actual flavor of the pastrami...)

                  Mr Taster
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                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    I totally agree with you, Mr Taster. I had a Katz sandwich for breakfast and a Langer's sandwich the next day just to compare the two. I preferred the Langer's sandwich because of the bread, but the Katz pastrami was a bit tastier on its own. Too similar in taste to make a big stink about how one was better than the other, though.

                    1. re: Devourer

                      I guess the good part about the bad bread is that you can easily reproduce a Katz's sandwich at home with plastic bag bread, whereas the Langer's experience is a little harder to replicate :)

                      Mr Taster
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                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Bread is simply not a tall pole. Even Tommy Pastrami has excellent rye bread baked fresh daily, quite tasty and crusty but chewy inside.

                        1. re: bernardo

                          Agreed... then why does Katz's still go for the plastic bag bread?!?

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                        2. re: Mr Taster

                          You can buy Langer's bread, reheat in the oven as per their direction (wet with water first), and pile in your meat of choice. ;)

                    2. re: kevin

                      actually, imho, nate 'n als was far superior to 2nd av. deli.
                      the bread at nate 'n als was never served cold and crumbly--it was always crusty on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. the second av. deli looked at bread as an inconvenience.
                      the pastrami at nate 'n al's, too, was superior.

              2. You evil...evil.. evil... person... I agree... I don't even like Pastrami, but I'll happy scarf down a Langers Sammich anyday! YUM!! :D

                --Dommy!

                1. Nice one, you made me click :-)

                  I love love love Langer's ! Wish I could go more often (though my wife would differ -she dosen't like my love handles as it is !)

                  1. Brent's in nice but it's no LANGER'S.
                    Langer's is still the undisputed champion of HAND CUT Pastrami- Double Baked Rye in the USA.
                    Nothing is more fun then taking friends from NYC and watching them squirm as they take the first bite and having to backtrack on their previous comments about how NYC has the best Pastrami, NOT!.

                    1. Hahahaha...very cute. I like Langer's (I used to work close by), but now I have to drive a bit for a pastrami fix. Those who are Langer regulars, when is a good time (lunch and/or dinner) to beat the crowds?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alag77

                        Dinner's never crowded

                        (they close at 4pm)

                        Mr Taster
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                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Ah, thanks :) I've only been there for lunch but assumed they might be open for dinner. Too bad. It seems like it would make a great late-night meal (the indigestion, not withstanding).