For months, my friend and I had talked about Katz’s Deli. How the pastrami sandwich was just a hunk of perfection. How I really need to make a trip to NYC so we can share the experience of chomping down into the hunk of perfection served with pickles. How this blog was incomplete without a mention of Katz. How my life was incomplete without that bite of luscious goodness. So first NYC trip of the year and a trip to Katz was a can’t-miss.
New York has such amazing culinary offerings that it’s nearly impossible to find enough mealtimes to fit in enough experiences! So I had to be creative and fit in “half-meals” and quick “tastes” to be able to pace myself and be able to squeeze in yet another gem of an eatery. So Katz’s Deli happened, squeezed in, but definitely worth the effort!
As I stepped into the restaurant, I realized that in all our countless conversations about Katz, the conversation had never turned to the “format”. Katz is like a marketplace. You enter and pick up an order card. You march forward to the counter, separated by a glass barrier from the amazing deliciousness on the other end. You may, if you’re like me, get confused by the sights, sounds, the rush, the ordering all around you, and all the choices. That’s where a local NYer guide is your savior.
I stepped away from the counter and left the ordering to my friend. After all, we already knew exactly what we were going to get – a pastrami sandwich to split among the two of us. Instead of crowding at the order counter, being confused, I decided to be useful and hunt out some seats for us. The place is massive, with many tables set close to each other, filling up the entire space. I wove in and out of the rows of table. I put on my Manhattan attitude of navigating through the crowds and tight spaces. I kept an eye out for that opportunity of a free table for two, eyeing my fellow competitors closely to anticipate their every move and swoop in when needed. Twice, I failed to secure an empty table for two. So much for my Manhattan swoop.
Finally I spotted an empty table and clumsily clamored over shoes and bags and toddlers and prams and grabbed the space. I waved to my friend and gazed in amazement as the tray laden with a sandwich the size of my head headed my way, balanced precariously with drinks, napkins and pickles.
The pastrami sandwich was a piece of magic. Massive slabs of thick cut pastrami. Beautifully marbled. Peppery, buttery and tender with just a hint of chew. A slather of some basic mustard to add just the hint of a bit of spicy kick. What took me by surprise was the amazing texture that let you cut through the sandwich with one clean-cut bite, without stards of pastrami spilling out from the sandwich from all four sides. Maybe it was because of the thick cut that reserved the structural integrity of the pastrami slices. Who knows? I stopped guessing and focused on the taste and the experience!