HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Jeff's Gourmet Sausage Factory by Thi

On tomorrow's LA Times:

"The kosherizations range from the charmingly bizarre and pungent beef and chicken chorizo to the brilliant nondairy version of ranch sauce (for the chicken wings), a delightfully creamy fresh aioli."

http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. It's easy to overlook the photo montage that goes along with the story: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

    1. I was delighted to see the writer give due credit to Jeff's superb, melt-in-your-mouth pastrami sandwich. It's been my second favorite in LA (after Langer's) since I first tried it a couple of years ago.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Arthur

        For those that don't know, the writer is a long time LA Chowhound board contributor who got noticed via this site and his blog and hired by the LA Times. A good writer and a great Chowhound.

          1. re: RicRios

            I try not to admit to things (they seem to come back to bite you in the...well never mind where) but I was WLA in those days and in that thread. Thi is/was an original of rare and valued ability.

            1. re: Servorg

              Someone should move this to the Kosher Board.

              1. re: SIMIHOUND

                The linked review was geared to all LA Times readers, not just kosher ones. IMO there is likewise no reason to limit this thread's audience to followers of the Kosher Board. If someone wants to copy it there, fine. But Jeff's has developed a large non-kosher following and many of us would agree that it transcends the traditional limits of kosher cuisine, so this particular discussion most certainly deserves to remain here.

                1. re: Arthur

                  As someone who keeps it is my experience that the best kosher restaurants are ones that market to and attract the non-market customers - like Jeff's

        1. re: Arthur

          A brief note on this issue: this may be heresy, but I'm starting to think I actually (barely) prefer the Jeff's old-fashioned special pastrami (the non-daily one) to Langer's. But they're very, very different. It's probably just a matter of mood. They're both holy, anyway, and since this isn't a monotheistic pastrami church, we don't actually have to choose.

          Langer's is more carefully spiced, a little more evenly cut. Their bread is better, more profoundly crunchy, and as a gestalt, it's probably the better sandwich, by a narrow margin.

          But the Jeff's version is... god... it's *so* good, it's actually hard to describe. The two paragraphs in the article took me about half a day to write and I still feel that I basically failed the glory of this sandwich. First of all, the hunks are huge - weirdly shaped, chunky, deep pink *slabs*. They're *ribboned* with beautiful, dripping fat hunks. And they're more deeply meaty... they have a touch of that wild gamey tang of animal, animal, animal. It soaks in animal perfume.

          Langer's is more of a... finished cooked meat product, more about spicing wizardry. The Jeff's version is more about the intensification of the wild spirit of hoofy animal.

          I know I'm hyperbolic, but I took my very hyperbole-skpetical girlfriend and my very stoic, unhyperbolic math buddy there, and, well, I believe I caught my math buddy softly wiping tears out of his eyes.

          I love Jeff's when it's crowded.... it's such a Pico-Robertson *scene*. Reminds me that my favorite thing about Los Angeles is that it's basically 15 countries squeezed together, and you can go world-travelling in your car.

          Please: do not go and get the regular menu pastrami. It is no substitute. They are entirely different beasts. Different meat, different prep, different everything. If you are on a regular day, and you want some spice intensity, get the boerewors sausage. But it is worth tracking down. I am completely sure that half the people who read this will wait, make the trip, then be disappointed and call it inauthentic, they will complain about the crowds (massive) the seating (not much) and the service (punk, and friendly in a weirdly hyper-aggressive way), they will accuse me of overhyping and overselling, and I know that, on some level, I shouldn't talk this way, because people are always disappointed when they go and they don't have some auto-religious experience and I know I should qualify my excitement, but I am telling you now: it made me shiver with meaty joy, and it made me mumble and moan into my sandwich.

          Oh: don't get it to-go. They wrap it in aluminum foil and the rye bread loses it's crisp.

          1. re: Thi N.

            Oh: one way to put it is: Jeff's version really reminds me of really, really good barbecue - the kind that's so meat-purified that you don't want sauce - in a way that Langer's doesn't. And, in talking to Jeff in the interview, he mentioned that he had an intense love for Southern barbecue.

            You know, I typically have so much material from interviews that couldn't possibly fit in the article (I had 9 pages of eating notes and 7 pages of interview notes to squeeze into a 1 page article) that I wonder if I should, like, do a Commentary Track on the articles or something, somewhere on the internet. Would anybody read that, or is that just self-indulgent? I'd probably have to wrangle out legal details with my boss or something.

            But anyway: Langer's: gorgeous, glorious spicing, perfect sandwich gestalt. Jeff's: essence of meat, amplified. Both: wondrous.

            1. re: Thi N.

              wow, must try this out now. Call first to find out when they have it?

              Also, find out what's going on with Pho Minh! Don't you have Eric's contact info!?

              -----
              Pho Minh
              9646 Garvey Ave, South El Monte, CA 91733

              1. re: Thi N.

                i think that was one of your great tip-offs. been going to jeff's for years but never knew they could serve up such amazing pastrami, i also think it's as good as langer's and i like that the rye bread is grilled here at jeff's. but most will probably think it heresy to say that any other place in town makes a pastrami sandwich as good as langer's, much less a kosher joint (which most connotate with not the most tasty food), but jeff's is good.

                i also like jeff's very weird and uniquely spiced chili fries.

              2. re: Thi N.

                No disappointment here! I had it on Sunday and it was excellent--it has replaced Brent's as my second favorite pastrami in L.A. and has the advantage of being much closer. Langer's, however, remains my favorite (for me it wins on more than just the rye). I am eager to try some of Jeff's sausages next but, if the special pastrami is on the menu again, I fear I will be detoured. I just wish Jeff's had Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic to go with that wonderful pastrami.

            2. I actually like everything there except the sausages. : /

              4 Replies
              1. re: A5 KOBE

                Point made. I just wanted the kosher crowd to see the article. Can we double post?

                1. re: SIMIHOUND

                  You're welcome to start a new, heads-up post on the Kosher board with a link back to this discussion.

                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    No need. weinstein5 has already started a thread on the Kosher board about the article: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7463...

                    1. re: Arthur

                      I figured I would share the news -

              2. I like Jeff's a lot. I read in the article that they had a special pastrami that they only serve at special times. We have tried the regular pastrami, but it still wasn't like a good non-kosher one. Has anyone tried it?

                4 Replies
                1. re: paprkutr

                  They had it as a special maybe 3-4 weeks ago. I signed up for twitter just so I can be updated when they have it again. As I was eating it I called my brother and told him I was eating the second best kosher sandwich I'd ever had.
                  I don't particularly like the regular pastrami from them, I prefer the pastrami at Pico Kosher Deli down the block, but it's not close to the "sign-up-for-twitter-good" standard set by the Jeff's speciall.

                  -----
                  Pico Kosher Deli
                  8826 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

                    1. re: Thi N.

                      I agree with Thi I had the old fashioned yesterday and I told my friend at least ten times "best f'ing pastrami ever!"

                      1. re: Thi N.

                        Schwarma / falafel from Max's just outside D.C. Check the D.C. board for more info. Best middle eastern I've had period, kosher or non-kosher. In any case, both Max's and the Jeff's force a level of awareness where I think to myself while in the act of eating that "this is a special experience". Wrapped between some bread is the same kind of zen moment generally reserved for things like watching an all-time great athlete in their prime or interacting with an Einstein-like mind. Your appreciation for the moment requires no hindsight nor effort, simply existence because it comes to you. There just are no words better to describe the moment than "a special experience".
                        Now if I only I could find a top of the line kosher burger...

                  1. NEW FLASH! (From their Facebook Page): Old Fashioned Pastrami Sandwich is in!! - a ½ pound of hand-carved garlicky pastrami on crusty rye bread with deli mustard. Served with cole slaw and a pickle. LIMITED SUPPLY!

                    THANK THE PASTRAMI GODS ABOVE IT'S BACK!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: maiweezy

                      Sweet. I'll have to grab it on Sunday,

                      1. re: kevin

                        Does this differ from their normal pastrami sandwich (in terms of the meat I mean - I know that their regular pastrami sandwich comes on a French roll rather than on rye bread) on their regular menu in some way I wonder?

                        -----
                        Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage
                        8930 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Yeah, it's different than the normal one.

                          Think of the highly fatty, hand sliced, only on special version like almost, almost, almost like the pastrami hand sliced and doled out at Langer's. At least, this is the closet kosher version I have ever tried to Langer's heavenly pastrami.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            It's certainly different, but so far I prefer their regular pastrami. The one time it was available for me to order, I found it to be interestingly flavorful but dry as a bone and a bit too chewy. Their regular pastrami is much juicier. I would be happy to try the old-fashioned again, though, and YMMV.

                            Also, just to clarify, my praise higher up on this page is for the regular pastrami, which I think is quite underrated. The only issue I have with Jeff's regular pastrami sandwich is the mediocre French roll it comes on, but the meat is superb.

                            1. re: Arthur

                              Haven't tried their regular agree on your experience with the old-fashioned. While it was definitely a fine example of attentive and focused pastramiism, "dry," were my first thoughts. Dryness on bread is a big issue, as the flavors and aromas don't transpire in cinque with the senses' expectations. I kept getting mustard, rye and pepper in the nose. The rest of the anticipated flavors didn't open up until a fair amount of chewing.

                              I only tried it once, but I think with TonyC reporting its size has been compressed by its hefted-up price, Langer's still stands as what should be a pastrami sandwich for me.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                OK, I happened to be at Jeff's Sausages with my family tonight, and the Old-Fashioned Pastrami was on the Specials board. I figured with all the renewed interest here that it was time to give the sandwich the second shot I promised above.

                                And, wow, what a difference two years make! Yes, the price may have inched a bit higher in the past couple of years, but the quality of the sandwich had improved exponentially. In fact, it was perfect. The meat was thoroughly moist, succulent, thickly cut against the grain and, unlike Tony C, I found the portion to be quite generous. It was without question one of the very best pastrami sandwiches I've ever had in my life. To my enormous surprise, I thought it was even better than Langer's heavenly pastrami, which I have long believed could not be improved upon. (However, Jeff's excellent grilled rye did not beat Langer's regular rye, which remains the victor and still champion of the sandwich bread contest.)

                                So what are we to make of this? Is this an example of inconsistent quality control, or of a restaurant that is aware of and responsive to constructive criticism? I certainly hope the latter, and I'll most assuredly put it to the test next time I see the Old-Fashioned on Jeff's menu.

                                1. re: Arthur

                                  What no pics?

                                  jk. Thx for the report back

                            2. re: Servorg

                              It's also a different cut of meat from the regular pastrami. They utilize a cut closer to the belly so it's much fattier, whereas the regular pastrami is the traditional brisket cut.

                            3. re: kevin

                              Great! I should add too that they are closed on Saturdays. Made that mistake once and I was left with a burning, unfulfilled desire for pastrami all day.

                          2. The Old Fashioned is BACK! Just posted on their Facebook page.

                            1. Back again, now at $16. It's also visibly smaller the last time I had it. Since $16 is now officially more than any of the Langer sandwiches I get (10, 44), it'll be awhile before I visit again.

                              A shame, too.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: TonyC

                                Even smaller when you take it to-go :(

                                  1. re: TonyC

                                    I didn't imply Jeff's being stingy (well trimmed brisket is expensive). Merely comparing the state of the 2 recent sandwiches, and being a size queen. Anyone reading draw your own conclusion.

                                    Top pic, from Dec '12, bottom pic, last week. Last year's slices were equally thick, but a bit fatter, a bit more moist. Last week (same batch as this week) is a lesser, though still enjoyable, product over all.

                                     
                                    1. re: TonyC

                                      We were there in December '12. Our sandwiches were maybe 2/3 of either of yours. Were we goyed? :) Jeff's was packed and it was a Sunday afternoon if that makes any difference.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        edit:

                                        what is this, "goyed"?
                                        it is genetically and behaviourally impossible for my hebraic brethren to not give anyone, regardless of race, creed or colour, too little to eat.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          Iunno. Last I checked in my pants, I wasn't a MOT either, and I didn't look any more "hebraic" last Xmas vs this July.

                                          Langer's far closer to me. They have curbside pickup with exact change. At roughly the same price levels, Jeff's isn't able to keep me as a customer. For that, I'm sad, since I'd love to see "haute kosher" -- http://www.jewishjournal.com/cover_st... -- be a "thing" in LA.

                                          Jeff's OFP price rise is merely another example of the difficulties of deli survival in the US, as noted in the recent LAT article: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/... (as well as in Sax's book)

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              Member of the Tribe - a self reference used to refer to someone who is Jewish

                                              1. re: weinstein5

                                                my bad. i heard of the reference, just for some reason the acronym did not trigger in my pea brain.

                                            2. re: TonyC

                                              y'know, looking at my post, i think i got lost in a sea of double and quadruple negatives.

                                              what i meant to say is, amongst the tribe, the phrase, "eat, eat" is used as often as "baruch atah".

                                              thus, i find it hard to believe some would be given less to nosh than others.

                                              1. re: linus

                                                I guess the smiley face :) was meaningless - was just kidding. And I guess I'm lying... Nevertheless, the amount of pastrami in both of our sandwiches was noticeably less than either of the sandwiches in the pictures. The slices themselves were pretty thick like those in the pics.

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  oh i'm just joking around. if the sandwich is small and expensive, that's a bummer for everyone, be ye scientologist or zoroastrian.

                                                  1. re: linus

                                                    well, it would have to be more expensive than say langer's for the same portion size due to the kashering process, unless i'm missing something here.

                                                    1. re: linus

                                                      I didn't find the sandwich overly expensive considering the quality of the goods - I could tell the pastrami was from a great piece of meat and was given lots of love. The quantity was more than enough too. It just was dryer than I expected and compared to what I've seen from at the two photo examples, it was noticeably less. Somewhat dry, lesser quantity and crowded on a Sunday afternoon makes me speculate that this was the tail end of their pastrami for the day? Who knows...

                                            3. re: TonyC

                                              damn, that looks very langer-esque.

                                              but you guys have to realize if you didn't which you probably already did that Jeff's Gourmet is kosher so i guess they can charge a couple bucks more for the same size or decrease the quantity of pastrami on the sandwich.

                                              next time grab the old fashioned pastrami on top of the burger topped with the chili and a fried egg, sadly, you will have to hold the cheese, unless you grab it to go and add a couple slices of tillamook at home.

                                          1. Just had the old fashioned pastrami last week. Totally disappointed in the sandwich and price. First it's $15.95 for a small sandwich with a small cup of coleslaw and a pickle slice. I like real kosher dills not ones with vinegar, the coleslaw was so so.
                                            Now to the sandwich, When we ordered them they told us it came on double baked rye bread. Well the double baked was put on the grill and not double baked, probably wasn't fresh that day. The bread fell apart from the juices of the grilled meat. The meat itself tasted ok, just ok, but was sliced thick in little pieces. It was put on the grill and slapped on the bread with a little mustard. My sandwich fell apart just sitting on the plate.
                                            I wouldn't get it again, not my think. Definitely get their sausages, much better. Don't know what the hoopla was all about.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: paprkutr

                                              Toasting the bread would be a no go for me no matter how good the meat was.