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Langer's vs. Oinkster (vs. Katz's)

I tried Langer's pastrami again last week for the first time since right when I moved here back in September. The sandwich looked divine. Like a perfect specimen of the NYC deli classic. Ordered it straight up on rye with mustard and nothing else. If put side by side next to Katz's (who imo makes the finest Pastrami in the world), they look very very similar...

Unfortunately, having recently visited NYC, the taste of Katz's was still fresh in mind. Honestly, Langer's is sorta bland in comparison. The rye bread was fantastic. The meat had a nice amount of fattiness to it... However, the flavor of the meat was lacking the complex, smokey characteristic that really makes Katz's sing. I still think it's a good sandwich, but to be honest, I think the flavor of Oinkster's pastrami is better than Langer's. Of course, Oinkster is far from traditional. It's not even served on Rye. And the bread it came upon fell apart half way through, but the meat itself has much more pronounced pastrami flavor that comes closer to pastrami bliss.

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Oinkster
2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

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  1. I've had Katz and Langers pastrami on consecutive days and prefer Langers by a wide margin. If you factor in the atmosphere, it's Langers by a mile. I cant stand Katz's ordering system or service. I don't care for Oinkster at all.

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    Oinkster
    2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

    2 Replies
    1. re: rednyellow

      I consider Langer's and Katz 1A & 1B, so I can see how one might slightly favor one than the other, but to say it isn't close pastrami wise, I don't agree with. The bread however at Langer's blows away the kind they use at Katz. And Carnegie Deli is a tourist trap, terrible pastrami.
      I go to Langers about 1x a month for my pastrami fix, and whenever I'm in NY I always make a stop at Katz. So enjoy both! And the ordering ticket system at Katz does suck. lol

      1. re: LakerFan

        "And the ordering ticket system at Katz does suck."

        It only sucks if you don't know how to work the system ;-)

    2. You will probably start another flame war here, as there are many, many threads on the pastrami at Langers and in LA in general. But finally, someone I agree with.

      I like Langer's pastrami, but it doesn't have the right texture to me. I grew up on Carnegie Deli in NYC and other delis in CT, and I prefer pastrami to not have the same texture as brisket.

      The Oinkster, however, does have the texture I crave, and it had delicious flavor. I found the cut to be a little too thick, though, making it harder to eat. My bread did not fall apart halfway through, but I would prefer Langers rye any day over a white roll. I did like the warm red cabbage and caramelized onions Oinkster put on it though, nice touch.

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      Oinkster
      2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

       
      1. can we stop with the langers comparisons to katz or any other place? tons of threads about it already. we all know Langers is good. to some the best, to others 2nd best or 3rd best. but overall its a great sandwich and we need to stop with the debate. it will never end and there is no definitive winner. lets just be glad we have langers or oinkers here in LA to enjoy that can be compared to the famous Katz's...

        2 Replies
        1. re: samtron608

          I agree that we should just put a hold on this "vs" matter until a significant change has been reported.
          As far as I am concerned, in L A, pastrami fans are blessed to have Langers. If you go or are in the NY area, then Katz is it.

          1. re: selfportrait93

            Oh My Goodness. Who is this "we" you speak about? Will they let those of us that aren't "we" know when a significant change has been reported?

            I do not like the search engine here. I do like everything pastrami. Even if it makes me salivate reading about it.

            TC, Robin

        2. Here's my side by side comparison of Langers vs. Katz's from back in 2005. I also gave the edge to Katz's for flavor, but Langer's for the whole sandwich experience.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/65903

          Mr Taster

          1. FYI Chef Guerrero of the Oinkster apprenticed with Norm Langer at Langer's a few years ago in order to come up with his pastrami recipe.

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            Oinkster
            2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

            7 Replies
            1. re: wienermobile

              just as an fyi, chef guerrero did NOT apprentice with Norm Langer. in fact, he has never worked at Langer's - but he has his own impressive resume nonetheless!

              1. re: seventycharger

                Are you sure? This is from the J. Gold's review of The Oinkster a few years ago "nobody thinks it odd that a famous chef might seek an apprenticeship with a revered deli counterman, in {Chef Guerrero} this case Norm Langer." and this from LA Foodie.com "And if you’re wondering why the pastrami is so good, consider that Guerrero interned with Al Langer solely to learn how to make the stuff as good as it can be made. "

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                Oinkster
                2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                1. re: wienermobile

                  I suspect that Jonathan G. stretched the definition of the word "apprenticeship" here. My guess is Guerrero showed up one afternoon and got permission to watch the counterman work the steamer and slice the pastrami. A true "apprentice" would have been washing the kitchen floors.

                  Langer's is a restaurant, not a medieval craftsmans' guild ;)

                  1. re: maxzook

                    It's pretty common to stage in a kitchen for a day or a week. The restaurant industry is pretty medieval that way. It's a great way to keep fresh and inspired.

                    1. re: AAQjr

                      True of a restaurant like MAX ... less true of a restaurant like Langer's (or for that matter, the Oinkster) where they would likely be seen as nuisances getting in the way of the kitchen line.

                      1. re: maxzook

                        True, but curing and cooking/steaming the pastrami won't be done during service. It'll be done during prep time, when ever that is for Langer's

                  2. re: wienermobile

                    Yes - I asked norm about this and he does recall him eating there a few times but never working there. I think Jonathan Gold was being metaphorical! The LAfoodie piece may have accidentally expanded on this errata.

              2. I am an admitted pastrami Luddite, and a self-professed Langer's frenemy, but if I were ever to get a pastrami sandwich, it would be at Oinkster.

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                Oinkster
                2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I love both, but sometime last year the bread Oinkster uses became abysmal, with the consistency of balled-up Charmin. I haven't been back since July, though, so maybe it's gotten better? Please tell me it's gotten better?

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    I've had good bread and bad bread there. I think it just depends. And honestly I don't go there enough to say definitively one way or the other.

                2. once went to langer's with a new york friend. He liked the meat fine. But he went wild over the corn rye. he told me that his mother for years had talked to him about the bread they used to have in delis in new york - crunchy/crispy crust with a snap. Biting into the langer's sandwich, he immediately knew what she had been talking about.

                  I don't care for the oinkster pastrami or the hat pastrami. In general, most pastramis are too fatty, at langer's the fat seems melted into the meat. I love it.
                  I'm glad there are enough people to support oinkser and to allow me to go to Langers without lines heading out the door that would kill my lunch. thank you all.

                  1. Brent's pastrami is my favorite in town, then Langer's. To me, Capriotti's "Cappapastrami" tastes better than Oinkster. Maybe I had it on a bad day, but it was dry and flavorless.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: A5 KOBE

                      Is Oinkster pastrami a deli pastrami or just great pastrami? I have never been to Langer's or Oinkster but how can they be compared if one of them isn't deli pastrami?

                      1. re: SIMIHOUND

                        Well, your definition of deli pastrami or great pastrami may not be everyone else's definition.
                        Pastrami at both Langers and Oinkster are made from scratch, and Oinkster learned everything about pastrami from Norm Langer, so you might sense there COULD be an overlap in taste.

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                        Oinkster
                        2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                    2. I haven't tried Langers OR Oinkster YET, but I'm putting my $ on the fact that neither comes close to real NYC pastrami at Katz's deli.

                      I'll be keeping my tastebuds on vestal virgin status to LA pastrami until a clear winner is decided upon by this thread.

                      Only then will I sample these Hollywood goods!

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: uberchef

                        You will be waiting forever because there is no decided winner 'round these parts. Different folks have different opinions. It is one of many long standing discussions on this board.

                        1. re: uberchef

                          many an LA hound have gone to NYC and declared Langers' better and vice versa. Statistically speaking if you put your money where your mouth is you'll probably end up even.

                          1. re: uberchef

                            Tell ya what, I'm going to NY at the beginning of March, and I'm going to Katz's (first time), so I can tell you if it is better than Langers. (assuming I remember this thread)

                            1. re: mdpilam

                              To me, Katz's taste is better. From the pastrami to the russian dressing to the mustard. Score one for Langer's for the bread.

                              Also, Katz's has great brisket and corned beef as well that trumps Langer's offerings.

                              1. re: A5 KOBE

                                I've been to Katz's five times and never had a bad pastrami sandwich. The ordering system is different, the first time, but after that, it's pretty easy.

                                I've been to Langers 6 six had bad pastrami three of those times. The other three times, I thought the pastrami was good but not great.

                              2. re: mdpilam

                                So I went to Katz's Deli last weekend, and it was good, but easily inferior to Langer's. I also thought that the whole system was a bit ridiculous. We waited in a line outside to be herded into a mass of people in front of the counter with people pushing through to get an order in. We eventually placed an order (pastrami, swiss w mustard on rye for me and corned beef for my gf), and were able to find an open table in the back corner. On first bite, immediately I missed Langer's rye; Katz's rye was completely unremarkable. I did think that the spice rub on their pastrami was better, but overall I still like Langer's pastrami better. It is a juicier, and more tender meat.

                                Obviously, these are just my opinions, but I think the clear winner is Langer's.

                                1. re: mdpilam

                                  Essentially you concur with the consensus of those of us who have done the bi-coastal tasting. Katz's gets the slight edge for the spice rub, but Langer's wins for the whole sandwich.

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/65903

                                  Mr Taster

                              3. re: uberchef

                                by def, only real nyc pastrami in nyc.
                                real pastrami can be anywhere, even (gasp) chicago. here's an idea - why don't you go to both and YOU DECIDE THE winner and let us all know.

                              4. I've been to both and they both make a GREAT sandwich. I think that this is the only answer.....they both win

                                1. Haven't been to Katz's in almost forty years, when I went to NYU I lived closer to the Second Ave. Deli ... but that was a loooooong time ago, when Abe Lebewohl was alive and well.

                                  The comparison of Langer's pastrami to Oinkster is unfair to both. I wouldn't be surprised if Langer's is blander than Katz's. Remember that Oinkster pastrami is cured on the premises, Langer's buys their pastrami but the secret is of course in the slicing. Langer's wins for the quality of the meat and the bread, Oinkster wins for the quality of the curing.

                                  In short, Langer's is the champ for Jewish-deli pastrami sandwiches; Oinkster for sub-sandwich-style. It's apples and oranges.

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                                  Oinkster
                                  2005 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: maxzook

                                    I'm a native New Yorker and in the Katz's/Langer's pastrami debate I vote Langer's.

                                    However, Katz's wins points for having Russ & Daughters and Yonah Schimmel down the block.

                                    1. re: lad1818

                                      Don't forget Kossar's....

                                      And why can't LA do a proper knish? Seriously! We can't even get the shape right. It's a small thing, but one that has baffled me lo these many years.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        check the knishes at schwartz's bakery and at factors deli. you may be disappointed, but then again...

                                    2. re: maxzook

                                      i understood that langer's also steams the pastrami on site. perhaps not.