Matzoh Ball Strikeout - Roll and Rye Culver City
Today as I watch the rain fall in office window, I realize that it's the perfect Matzoh Ball soup day. I can't imagine anything more comfy and warming than a huge fluffy Matzoh Ball resting in a chicken stock, Jewish Penicillin as it is often called, it almost clings to the ball, the bowl, your spoon.
Recently we had a post searching for the best Matzoh Ball Soup...
Within some folks mentioned Roll and Rye, an old skool Jewish Diner we walk by constantly. It's never full, but it does have customers, full of regulars it seems who just go for the basics, sandwich and a cup of soup. I had tried them before, a rare roast beef sandwich. Horribly plain and even worse, horribly over priced! I never had intension of trying them again... until this darn post because I LOVE Matzoh ball soup...
And so, I forsook my usual SGV/Eastside adventures and ordered in one gloomy night recently in hopes of having a MBS source just a mere jaunt away... Of course I also ordered some other items...
I am a HUGE latke fan, so I just had to order their Potato Pancakes to start. Sadly, it was a mistake, they were HUGE, but just not very tasty and bit tough! They were made better by adding COPIOUS amount of sour cream, which of course made them 10x more heavy than they already were!
Since ranting once to a co-worker about the roast beef, he told me to try their Ruben. And so I ordered that too (Woman can not live on soup alone!). It came with a sad side of coleslaw, a nice big pickle and a HUGE sammich!
Now THIS, I would order again. By no way was this as good as Langer’s rye, but the rye was still excellent. Everything worked well. And there was TONS of really nice meat.
And finally the Matzoh Ball Soup!
Pretty innit? Well, that’s all it’s pretty much good for, a nice picture! The broth was so thin and tasteless that I had to add SALT to it (And that THUMP you just heard is all the Jewish mothers who have fainted after reading this post!). The Matzoh ball was nice, but the soup… BLEH!!! I’ve had better from a can.
And so once again, Roll and Rye sadly struck out. Will be doing as I always do now, save up those carcasses, buying a few chicken feet and and box of Matzoh ball mix and making my own at home from now on…
2 paradigms for matzo ball soup:
1. The pristine, broth-and-ball version, where the broth should be as intensely chickeny as possible and there's nothing else except one light, lovely matzo ball to soak up the broth slowly. Nate-N-Al's has this version nailed; their broth is utter essence of chicken made into a pearly-yellow elixer. Even stands up to the ice cubes PayOrPlay Jr. likes to drop in the bowl to cool it down quicker.
In the interest of full disclosure I should admit that we like it better with some noodles as well as the matzoh ball--I understand susancinsf's viewpoint but hey, as long as it's not Pesach, why not?) We were just there last night, lovely as always, although service was a little more dispeptic than usual. (And it was another benchmark in PayOrPlay Jr.s growing up, last night he ate the whole bowl by himself (without spilling a any!) and I was reflecting on how as recently as last year we'd buy him this and he'd only eat half, or less, and Cynaburst and I would get to finish it, now that he's 5-1/2 I guess we'll have to buy our own!)
Only real negative on Nata N Al's: someone really ought to do something about their sub-par men's room. (When you're a daddy you notice these things!)
2. The vast, complicated, everything-you-can-think-of in a bowl version, the Jewish version of a huge Asian noodle bowl, with chicken, noodles, kreplach, kasha, rice, carrots, celery, onions, whatever. My favorite is the "full house" at Junior's, one of the most reliable comfort dishes in town, and good for 2-3 light meals unless you're monstrously hungry. (It doesn't hurt that it's close to our house; I'm sure there are other good versions around.)
Dommy!, I admire your willingness to go back to making your own matzoh balls, and I'm sure it will turn out better than the leaden matzoh balls we had to endure at multiple seders this year.
On the few occasions I've been to Roll and Rye it seemed not more than a routine suburban deli of the type my parents are saddled with in Phoenix . . . but we do get contrary, more positive reports from Culver City friends from time to time, so maybe they are erratically good?
It's true I suppose that as long as it isn't Pesach, the noodles shouldn't matter, but part of the issue for me is that the noodles in Dommy's picture look like the noodles in Cambell's chicken noodle. I mean, if you are going to be what I consider to be non-traditional and include noodles, at least make them substantial!
I haven't found any good place for mbs in the SF area, other than my home....will have to try some of these suggestions next time I am in LA.
Here's something interesting:
My own Jewish mother, who makes excellent matzah ball soup and who learned to make if from her own mother and her bubbe AND who lives in Northridge and swears by all things Brent's, prefers RNR's MBS to Brent's matzah ball soup.
This is a woman who considers Brent's the best restaurant in the city and who takes great pride in little else besides her children, her grandchildren and her soup (okay, her gefilte fish and chopped liver, too -- and truly, her chopped liver is amazing) and for some reason she reluctantly conceded that RNR's soup was her favorite.
I can't recall eating either, though I'm sure I have at some point. And when it comes to restaurants, well, I love my mom but have more faith (much more faith, actually) in Dommy!'s restaurant selections -- but I have to say I find sort of interesting.
Thanks for the excellent write-up, btw.
Interesting Paul... This is why I post to see what other opinions are out there, to see if I'm missing something. Perhaps I just got a bad batch. I'd invite you to give it a try (Because I trust your buds as well) and see what you think... You can easily get it to go and it's one of the reasonably priced items on their menu...
I should have mentioned that my mom also liked the sushi at Todai.
I'll probably try it at some point.
To me, Roll N Rye is sort of generic in a Solley's, Jerry's sort of way. In that part of Culver City, it's the only game in town, though. (The owner's name is Zide and when I was a kid I lived on the same street as a family of Zide's that owned Solley's which was bought by Jerry's so I've always thought that there was some distant connection).
Anyway, I certainly wasn't defending their soup. My mom and dad spend a lot of time in mall chain restaurants and Valley cantonese joints. She ain't no restaurant critic. In fact, I was surprised mostly that she liked RNR's soup because she has a sort of North-Valley Brent's pride thing going. We eat Brent's food at brunch, lunch, and funerals.
Anyways -- my RNR experiences are mostly that if I'm in the mood for deli food, it's the closest to my house. I'm just not going to drive to Northridge for a sandwich or a bowl of soup. I think everything there sort of borders on acceptably bland and reasonably over-priced. Since that's my neighborhood shopping center, I go a few times a year.
It's like a menthol cigarette. Not exactly my taste or my brand, but it will cut the craving if that's all I can bum.
Too bad you didn't fall slave to your stock pot 'cuz it's SOOOO easy to make yourself. I too had the urge and made a pot full for dinner last night and had for breakfast this morning (11:30A). So, I just buy a couple of boxes of free range organic chicken stock from T.J.'s. Last night, I first boiled water with about 1/4cup barley - I just grab a big handful - and threw in a few mini carrots. Then opened my box of matzo ball soup (Croyton House special ordered), and made the matzo balls - eggs, oil and a little soup mix. Then poured stock into the pot, added some left over chicken breast, and a little soup mix for extra flavor. Waited for a boil and plopped in the balls. Covered the pot for 10 minutes and whella! Soup!!!! I think the whole thing took me 30 minutes. Common Dommy not that tuff!! - KQ:)
re: Kitchen Queen
I think from many taste tests, Nate'n'Al's in Beverly Hills has the best matzo ball soup. Except my own. I go to Label's Table Deli, 9226 W. Pico Blvd., L. A. and buy 4 of their big fluffy matzo balls. I pour 2 boxes of Swanson's Chicken Broth (8 cups) into a pot, add carrots, parsnips and seasonings and cook until the vege's are tender. Then add the matzo balls and simmer another hour. Easy, delicious and enough for 2 nights, dinner for 2.