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Langer's Brunch Sat. 5/17 -- #9 beats #19

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  • nosh May 18, 2014 02:16 PM
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My mom and her companion were in town celebrating my niece's graduation from USC, and we were on our own yesterday. I gave them three choices for brunch -- an adventure into the SGV for dim sum (I was thinking 888 for carts), a good bakery near me (Amandine, where I love their quiche and their french toast, and my favorite croissants), but he was strongly for the old-time Jewish deli, so off to Langer's we went. We three were seated in a booth-ish table in the very back.

We ordered too much but had a good meal. Mom's companion loved the huge menu and started wanting lox or tongue, but I reminded him we were there for the pastrami. Mom isn't a pastrami fan so ordered blintzes. We split a #9 (plain pastrami) and a #19 (pastrami, swiss, cole slaw and russian dressing). He insisted on a side of "a few slices" of tongue; the minimum they would sell was a quarter-pound. I added a cup of matzo ball soup and an order of the crinkle-cut fries well-done.

The matzo ball soup had a clear broth that needed both salt and pepper but the matzo ball was nice and light. A good start. The fries came out and they were a huge order, spilling over the metal serving dish all around the cup below. Mom's blintzes were three powdered-sugar covered blintzes with sour cream on the side. Harold and I split the two pastrami sandwiches.

Sorry, but Harold just didn't emerge as a good judge in this test. He unwrapped his tongue slices and ate his halves of the two pastrami sandwiches by deconstructing them and using fork and knife ate the meat and toppings but without almost any bread. I attacked the sandwiches as they were served. My conclusion: plain pastrami beats #19 easily. If I need a bit of cole slaw to cut into the meat and bread richness, I can add a forkful from the side. The swiss cheese was a layer of richness, but the #19 was just more difficult to eat. My first bites from the corners had too much slaw and cheese and too little pastrami. In the front-middle the cole slaw dominated as well. I ate more of the #19 because I knew it was going to be much more difficult to store and reheat, so I only sampled three or so bites of my half of the #9.

I was amazed how many tables were ordering either the fries or the chili-pastrami-fries that were promoted on a card on our table. It is a big order, and I have half left over, but the thick fries should reheat ok.

I ordered our pastrami "moist, NOT lean." Harold still wondered whether they had mistakenly given us lean. I knew better -- there was enough fat to keep the meat tasty, but it certainly wasn't fatty anywhere near an untrimmed point section would be.

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  1. I find your comment surprising concerning the salt level of the chicken soup. I like Langers' chicken soup, but I find it more than sufficiently salty.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jack Flash

      I am usually pretty easy on the salt. My mom loves salt, and usually adds it. She liked the matzo ball, said her chicken soup was better. I added a bunch of pepper to the broth, and still missed a little salt. I knew I had the pastime bombs coming, so i didn't add any...

      I did add the packet of saltines (funny) to the cup of soup.

      Note that I don't think they salted our well-done fries. With the ketchup, I didn't miss it.

    2. I think Langer's is hugely overrated and that you should go elsewhere.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lesliesue

        The bridge is over there, lady.

        1. re: lesliesue

          Where is elsewhere?

          1. re: lesliesue

            i'm sorry that you're wrong

          2. Langer's is #66 on todays J. Gold's 101 Best In Los Angeles list.

            3 Replies
            1. re: wienermobile

              <is #66 on todays J. Gold's>

              Ridiculous.

              1. re: latindancer

                Yes it should of been higher….

              2. re: wienermobile

                Statement from Langer's today on making the list:
                Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant is proud and honored to have been named by the Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold to his annual 101 Best Restaurants for 2014. Jonathan has been a long-time supporter of Langer's and our world-famous hot pastrami, dating back many, many years now. We are grateful for his acknowledgement and honored by the inclusion in such a prestigious list.
                From all of us at Langer's Deli, thank you, Jonathan.

              3. Nice report! I do like the #19, but primarily because I thought it would be gross. I was pleasantly surprised that everything kind of worked.

                But I agree with you that it doesn't work as well as the simple, straight-up pastrami sandwich. You just don't *need* the other stuff.

                11 Replies
                1. re: cacio e pepe

                  Swiss horseradish and kraut for me

                  1. re: jessejames

                    Interesting mix. To each their own. I'm a traditionalist, but one by choice.

                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                      I like to mix it up. Sometimes I put part of a knish or potato pancake inside too. Basically can't go wrong with that pastrami!

                      1. re: jessejames

                        uhm... what number is this on the menu? cuz it's part overwhelming and part genius.

                        do you put the knish inside the #9/#10 or #19?

                        1. re: TonyC

                          I just order the pastrami and swiss on rye with small side of cold kraut and a potato knish. And ask for the white horseradish.

                          And then I open it up and put stuff inside...overwhelming? let's just say no room for dessert.

                          1. re: jessejames

                            revisiting this.. cuz I'm overdue for Langer's. is there a way to order 1 "potato pancake"?

                            latkes inside a pastrami sandwich? that's stil kosher. and it certainly beats having those disgusting fries.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              The fries are only disgusting if they're undercooked, which they were on my last visit with my sister on Saturday. Otherwise they're a great complement to the sandwich.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: TonyC

                                Or just pile some pastrami up on top of some potato pancakes with a little applesauce and sour cream or try something new

                        2. re: cacio e pepe

                          " I'm a traditionalist, but one by choice."

                          So, you haven't been coerced by an armed mob into that position then I take it? ;-D>

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Touché!

                            I meant that it's my choice. If your choice is to put yellow mustard and mayonnaise on the glory that is a Langer's pastrami then go nuts. For me, that's pretty gross, but it's your money. I'm not going to lecture you about diaspora and cultural authenticity, blah blah blah.

                      2. re: cacio e pepe

                        I prefer the #19 on an onion roll instead of the rye. It gives the sandwich an extra kick!

                      3. For some reason I am not in favor of mixing pastrami and cheese because at a place like Langer's it just doesn't seem right.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Tripeler

                          maybe you should hold the bread too?

                          1. re: jessejames

                            Hard to enjoy it as a sandwich that way. Mixing meat and dairy seems to affect the kosherness of it all.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              Your call. I'm not kosher. I prefer a cheeseburger to a burger too.

                              1. re: jessejames

                                I am not Kosher either, but I respect the aesthetic of a pastrami and rye and think it needs to be served Kosher. But, I will never turn down a cheeseburger because burgers were originally not meant to be Kosher. It's a funny quirk, but I am that way some times.

                                1. re: Tripeler

                                  For those of us, like me, who are Fauxsher the aesthetic is all about the taste. My humor may be tasteless, but my taste doesn't follow suit (thank Dog)...

                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                    There's a big menu and you should enjoy what u like but I'm not wrong or lacking respect for enjoying it my way.

                                2. re: Tripeler

                                  interesting. I assuage my pastrami madness with SALMON, bought laden with pastrami spices; then Swiss, Russian dressing, kraut (or sometimes cole slaw!) and horseradish mustard; all ingredients are necessary whether made with pastrami or salmon, and it must be on rye bread.
                                  Salmon pastrami is umami, and trumps #19.
                                  So throw it at me already!
                                  My question; is cheese on salmon Kosher?
                                  My former in laws are gone and there is no one left to ask.

                                  1. re: VenusCafe

                                    Yes. Kosher just like bagel lox and cream cheese. But id prefer that personally. Happy chowing!

                                    1. re: jessejames

                                      Jessejames is correct. A tuna melt is kosher also. (Langer's Tuna Melt)

                                       
                                      1. re: jessejames

                                        Of course! Duh...Dumkop why didn't I think of that?
                                        Me ken eisen; me ken freisen

                                        1. re: VenusCafe

                                          In kosher tradition where there are laws mandating separate consumption of dairy and meat, chicken, beef and goat/lamb qualify as "meat", but fish is considered neither meat nor dairy. It's halachically the same as an apple.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            I read someplace that those who adhere to these "laws" aren't supposed to eat fish and meat together. How about an apple and meat? Okay if you have a salami sandwich and munch on apple slices at the same time?

                                            I say as long as there is a good, logical reason that still holds water for these "laws" in this day and age...that's all I care about. (g)

                              2. I was amazed how many tables were ordering either the fries or the chili-pastrami-fries that were promoted on a card on our table. It is a big order, and I have half left over, but the thick fries should reheat ok.
                                _________________

                                A pastrami-chili fries throwdown is in order between Langer's and The Hat, me thinks.

                                1. For me, #44 >>> #19.

                                  For reference, #44 is:

                                  HOT PASTRAMI, Sauerkraut and Nippy Cheese Grilled on Rye

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: phamschottler

                                    What the hell is "nippy cheese?" My mom's friend asked me, and I made a politically incorrect reply about Japanese...

                                    1. re: nosh

                                      Reminds me of when I was in college and some of us were in a supermarket shopping for a party. "Where's the Cheese Nips?" someone ask. The wise guy in our group replied "They're on the same shelf with the Korn Kikes and the Potato Dagos." We laughed for hours and hours over that one.

                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                        I think it's melty sharp cheddar. Like the American cheese version of sharp cheddar. Which is maybe exactly American cheese.

                                        1. re: phamschottler

                                          USA cheese

                                          1. re: phamschottler

                                            I always assumed it was the equivalent of the Kraft Olde English slices, which I haven't seen in stores for a very long time now (though, to be fair, I haven't been looking). It came in an American cheese-style block, but the slices were firmer, thicker, and not individually wrapped. It tasted like a sharp American cheese.

                                            Mr Taster

                                      2. re: phamschottler

                                        Oh, man. The #19 really shocked me by actually tasting good despite the traif, but I just don't think I could do American cheese on pastrami.

                                        I like to think I'm pretty open-minded and tolerant, but everyone has their limits, I guess.

                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                          It's kinda like a grilled cheese with tons of pastrami and kraut. But the nippy cheese isn't overpowering or anything.

                                          And I still totally love the #19 too.

                                      3. Two words: Yellow Mustard.

                                        1. BTW, what did the chili look like? Are the pastrami chili cheese fries a legit option? sounds promising. and by "thick" fries, are they steak fries and not the usual crinkle cut, which however frozen they may be, I happen to love.

                                          1. Langers pastrami Chili fries...

                                             
                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: wienermobile

                                              man I'm ready for lunch...not just lunch, that for lunch!

                                              1. re: wienermobile

                                                what an absolute waste of perfectly good pastrami.

                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                  Amen to that.

                                              2. I love the #6, pastrami and chopped liver, though it would be nice if it came with a side of Lipitor.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: moreplease

                                                  That's another one that's only supposed to be eaten once a year. But it's probably been 5 years for me, so that means I can have 5 of them, right?

                                                  1. re: Jack Flash

                                                    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter...

                                                  2. re: moreplease

                                                    My sister, bro-in-law and little niece from Brooklyn were in town this weekend and we ended up at Langer's around 3:45pm on Saturday.

                                                    Both were confused beyond measure by the #19. Unanimous consensus-- "Why would they do that to pastrami?" Good question, sis and bro-in-law. Geography does strange things to tradition.

                                                    They also were confused by the photo of the pastrami chili cheese fries, which my bro-in-law said "looked like an exploded human heart." They actually look kind of good to me. Maybe I've been living in LA for too long.

                                                    Sis also said that MacArthur Park is way scarier than the Fulton Street Mall. Not sure how to process that-- we didn't go deep with it.

                                                    The four of us shared two pastramis on rye with Gulden's and an order of large fries, and we were good for the afternoon.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      "Both were confused beyond measure by the #19. Unanimous consensus-- "Why would they do that to pastrami?"

                                                      This is akin to the famous (supposed but disputed) quote when some reporter asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks and he replied "Because that's where the money is."

                                                      Because people like the taste and order it because they like it.

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        3 NY'ers who prefer tradition. [this] is the surprise on my face.

                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Maybe she said it because MacArthur Park was melting in the dark...

                                                      2. And...#54 with double pastrami, instead of pastrami and corned beef, beats them both. It's 3/4's of a pound of heaven.

                                                        22 Replies
                                                        1. re: orythedog

                                                          I like your style!

                                                          1. re: orythedog

                                                            I like it! mo' betta!

                                                            1. re: orythedog

                                                              I've got to say, I've never looked too deep on the menu, so I've not noticed it prior to this post.

                                                              I *really* like the sound of the #54, on rye, with Gulden's. Extra pickles (for free), please.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: orythedog

                                                                Thanks Dog! #54 all pastrami realized! The menu calls out pastrami and corned beef but, per the waitress, you can get any combination of their meats. She also stated that this is 12 oz vs. 7 oz for the regular sandwich with a $3.95 premium.

                                                                 
                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                  That would look great without the 1970's filter :)

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                    1970's filter??????????

                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                      Yeah, it looks like a high quality scan of a faded photo from a 1974 issue of Life magazine.

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                        LOL, I don't know what to say about my iPhone 5S pics.

                                                                  2. re: JAB

                                                                    This is truly the discovery of the century a #54 with double pastrami….. thank you, thank you, thank you….

                                                                     
                                                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                                                      I agree however, all praise to orythedog.

                                                                    2. re: JAB

                                                                      yum!

                                                                      1. re: jessejames

                                                                        Real men add 10 to the 44! ;>)

                                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                                          that's what im talking about!

                                                                          1. re: jessejames

                                                                            Wait…if you add 10 do you still get the nippy cheese?

                                                                            1. re: wienermobile

                                                                              Calling Mr Taster!

                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                No…I take it back….

                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                  :)

                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                        2. re: JAB

                                                                          @Jab, orythedog

                                                                          that is amazing.

                                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                                            I got a lb left at home for the one sandwich to rule them all tonite! And langers bread.

                                                                            1. re: jessejames

                                                                              Pic or...

                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                This was Wednesdays quarry. I like kraut instead of slaw and I have some nice red kraut from my Danish mom in law who would be disgusted with me btw!

                                                                                 
                                                                              2. re: jessejames

                                                                                but...do you have any of that glorious coleslaw?

                                                                        3. Never been a Langer's fan, nor a pastrami one either, and usually when I get dragged to Langer's for lunch I'll just suffice with an Egg Cream and some potato salad, but on a recent visit I tried the (hot) beef tongue sandwich and now I may have found my savior during those obligatory Langer's outings.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            "...but on a recent visit I tried the (hot) beef tongue sandwich and now I may have found my savior..."

                                                                            It's definitive then? Langer's > Shunji

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              ...and usually when I get dragged to Langer's for lunch I'll just suffice with an Egg Cream and some potato salad.
                                                                              _____________________________________________

                                                                              IPSE, it's a big menu with many possibilities. I was there yesterday and saw a good lookin' club sandwich. And, although they were out of it, the chocolate cake deserves attention too. I'm encouraging you to look deeper...

                                                                              1. re: orythedog

                                                                                don't forget the tuna melt which looks sublime.

                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                  It's actually a pretty damned fine tuna melt. I've tried it (twice). I suspect they use the so-called "nippy cheese" on that, though its not advertised as such.

                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                2. re: orythedog

                                                                                  Actually, from my experiences at Langer's, most of the food is pretty average, to below average. And overpriced, esp. for the 'hood. Pastrami included.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    OK. You don't like it, that's fine. Price wise though, it is similarly priced to other "high-end" delis like Brent's. To Norm Langer's credit, he has generally held the line on price hikes, and kept true to his promise to keep staff even in lean times. Quality wise, I haven't found better pastrami in LA.

                                                                                3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  That's my fave. Hot tongue sandwich #19 style. Love it.

                                                                                4. FYI, the OP mentions the #9 as a plain pastrami sammich, but the menu (at least the one online) lists the #9 as follows:

                                                                                  TURKEY, TONGUE and ROAST BEEF
                                                                                  Three Decker with Tomato and Russian Style Dressing

                                                                                  I think the plain pastrami is unnumbered.

                                                                                  My apologies if someone's already pointed this out and if I sound like a jerk. :)

                                                                                  1. My mom isn't a pastrami lover and ordered the blintzes. # to an order, served with sour cream, which she used.

                                                                                    One was left over. I warmed it in the microwave for 30 then 15. It is DELICIOUS. Wrapper is tender, interior is warm to hot. no topping.

                                                                                    i am heating the french fries in a cast-iron small skillet and will zap the half-9 in the microwave and then put in the oven atop the fries.

                                                                                    1. Just my two cents -
                                                                                      as a deli goes, I think that Langer's is par to sub-par
                                                                                      EXCEPT for the pastrami which is sublime.
                                                                                      I think it's the best in town for the pastrami. for other deli foods - soups, stuffed cabbage, other deli meats like corned beef, tongue, chopped liver or smoked fish, better off elsewhere.
                                                                                      Brent's never disappoints although there is no question to me that Langer's pastrami is better.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Jerome

                                                                                        My thoughts exactly…For pastrami no one touches Langer's for everything else Brent's.