Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced

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phlmaestro
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2009/05/04 14:16:50 (permalink)

Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced

Another new Jewish-style deli has opened up in Center City Philly. It's actually a second outlet of a place in Cherry Hill, NJ called The Kibitz Room.

I ate there for the first time Saturday night and found myself feeling a little disappointed with my corned beef sandwich. I think the problem for me may have been at least partially due to the way the meat was sliced. Since Hershel's in the Reading Terminal opened a year or two ago, I've been getting virtually all of my Jewish deli sandwiches from them. Hershel's hand slices their corned beef, pastrami and brisket, in the style of Katz's Deli in NYC. The corned beef I had Saturday at the new place was clearly sliced on a machine and it was sliced thin. I hadn't given that much thought to this before, but I think the thicker, hand-carved slices that I was used to at Hershel's make for a juicier sandwich. I'm not sure after one experience whether that was my entire problem or if it was also a flavor issue. I'll probably have to hit both places one of these upcoming weekends to do more of a comparison.

For those in the Philly area who are interested in this, it was also reported on philly.com last week that Famous Fourth Street deli will be opening a second location; this one close to Rittenhouse Square.

The difference between the Philly deli scene today comparied to a decade ago is like night and day. I'm loving these extra options!

#1

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    Baah Ben
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/04 15:10:00 (permalink)
    The Reading Terminal is fantastic!

    My vote is for machine sliced pastrami
    #2
    RC51Mike
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 07:34:32 (permalink)
    I'd only ever been exposed to machine sliced and was quite skeptical when I went to Katz's but they made a hand sliced believer out of me.  I think what's important though is that the meat has to be tender and juicy to begin with.  Paper thin machine slices can somewhat hide a tough hunk of meat.  Both methods have to be cut across the grain.  I won't get in a dogfight over knife vs. machine but, if I trust the quality of the meat, I'll prefer hand sliced.  Anywhere else, machine sliced is a safer bet.
    #3
    Baah Ben
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 07:47:14 (permalink)
    I'd suggest the Carnegie before a final decision on Katz's.
    #4
    douginvirginia
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 07:47:20 (permalink)
    I think the difference between hand and machine sliced is minimal. What's more important is the amount of time between the slice and when the meat goes on the bread.
    #5
    acer2x
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 08:38:25 (permalink)
    Most Philly area delis have been doing thin machine sliced since I can remember. It wasn't until Russ Cowan started Pastrami'n'Things on 15th Street about 10 years ago that hand slicing came to Philly. Maybe the original Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill did it too but I've never been there. Cowan went on to buy Famous 4th Street and that really woke up the town. Of course, many deli fanciers, including myself, went to NY to experience Katz's,Carnegie and 2nd Ave. Then Harold's came along in Edison, NJ, a much easier trip for us.Now there's Hershel's in the city. There is no doubt in my mind that hand slicing produces a better sandwich. It's just easier to machine slice. The suburban delis near me- Pumpernick's, Jack's, Stein's Famous & Ben & Irvs- and the ones on the other side-Hymie's & Murray's- need to be educated and perhaps offer a hand cut alternative on the menu.
    #6
    phlmaestro
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 09:48:03 (permalink)
    acer2x It's just easier to machine slice. The suburban delis near me- Pumpernick's, Jack's, Stein's Famous & Ben & Irvs- and the ones on the other side-Hymie's & Murray's- need to be educated and perhaps offer a hand cut alternative on the menu.


    I grew up on that style of corned beef. The real thin slices, served cold. My grandfather owned a service station a block up from Jack's. I used to think that's what Jewish style deli was, until I started trying some of the famous NYC delis.


    #7
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 10:30:04 (permalink)
    Baah Ben

    I'd suggest the Carnegie before a final decision on Katz's.


    This is good advice! I can't pick a winner in this fight. They are both good. 
    #8
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 11:09:02 (permalink)
    Machine-sliced:



    Hand-sliced from Katz's:


    #9
    Foodosaurus
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 11:16:33 (permalink)
    At least for me, Don's photos are the end of the argument.  Hand sliced from Katz's!
    #10
    ann peeples
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/05 11:20:58 (permalink)
    Hand sliced, absolutley....
    #11
    phlmaestro
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/06 15:49:06 (permalink)
    I just went back to Hershel's for a hand-sliced corned beef sandwich while the other sandwich from the Kibitz Room was still fairly fresh in my memory. There really is a big difference for me. I prefer the hand sliced. I also prefer the flavor of Hershel's corned beef, but that's not the entire difference. The thicker slices are much more appealing to me.
    #12
    Baah Ben
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/06 17:21:19 (permalink)
    MD did not show you machine sliced pastrami from the Carnegie or Harold's.  Perhaps if he did, you would not be choosing hand sliced so fast...We need to be fair about this..That looks like National pastrami that they haven't even warmed up. 

    I have no idea whose pastrami that is...It is a pretender's machine sliced pastrami!!!!!! Hey, MD lives in pastrami deprived Florida like me..Who knows where he got that pic from.  Too Jay's?  It was not from The Carnegie or Harold's.  If Harold would see this, he'd plotz! 
     
    Go to Jorugo's Trip Report to see some "legitimate" machine sliced pastrami.

    Hey, I love them both...machine sliced and hand sliced so don't get me wrong.  But, let's be fair to Hobart, Globe, Berkel..Commercial meat slicers et al.  Ahh..the grease and fat sliding off the slicers onto the botton of the blades....Pure heaven.  Cleaning those babies is a pain in the ass though!
     
    Philmastro - Cold pastrami and corned beef....Sounds terrific!  We have that here in Florida, too. 
    It's sacreligious!
    post edited by Baah Ben - 2009/05/06 17:31:21
    #13
    Twinwillow
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/06 17:35:49 (permalink)
    I love my pastrami to be hand sliced! As they do at Katz's. Yummy pics of hand sliced pastrami above.
    #14
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/07 05:12:57 (permalink)
    Baah Ben:  It's from the Epicure Market on Alton Road in South Beach.


    BTW. I'm meeting up with some out-of-town friends on Monday at Moe's Deli in Aventura.
    #15
    Baah Ben
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/07 09:44:37 (permalink)
    MD - thanks..

    How's the Epicure doing?  Great bakery..Is it still good?  
    Use to have these quart jars of matzoh ball soup, etc.

    I don't think I know Moe's.  Is it better than the Sage (excellent bagels..good lox, cream cheeses) in Hallendale?  Loved their vegetable and scallion cream cheeses, very good white fish and baked salmon spreads, good nova.  But forget the corned beef and pastrami..Standard out of town shipped in cryovac Hebrew National you can get anywhere. 

    There's a decent Chinese place in the same little shopping center.

    I'm interested in hearing about Moe's.  I'm guessing Aventura? Thanks

    So are those your pics from Katz's?  Didn't you recently ask and have to make a decison on which pastrami place you were going to eat at when you went to NYC?  



    #16
    MiamiDon
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/07 10:16:17 (permalink)
    Moe's Bagels & Deli in one block east of Biscayne Blvd on NE 187th Street in Aventura.  I haven't been there yet.  I am meeting two friends who used to live near me, but have retired to Raleigh, NC.  They're staying in Coral Springs, and suggested it.  Someone else recommended it to me before, so I thought I'd give it a go.

    The Katz's pastrami was overnighted to my home.

    Yes, I am going to NY next week, and hope to stop at Katz's, Yonnah Schimmel's and The Pickle Guys one day in The City.
    #17
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/07 10:56:41 (permalink)
    These photos were taken within the last week....



    The "Woody Allen" from the Carnegie Deli.  Corned beef is on top, pastrami is on the bottom.  Admittedly, this machine-sliced meat is a little thicker than most, but it is my favorite of the machine-sliced joints - Harold's included.  The sandwich runs (I think) $17.95 and fed me for three days - and I actually ended up throwing some of it out (yeah....blaspheme). 



    The corned beef sandwich from Katz's Delicatessen.

    I don't usually get the chance to sample both of these places in such close time with one another, but this was a unique week.  I am actually sitting about 20 minutes from Harold's and am seriously considering making a run down there before my flight this afternoon.

    I definitely prefer the hand-sliced meat versus the machine-sliced.  IMHO, the meat is significantly more flavorful.

    MD - Mo's is good - for south Florida.  I went there a few years ago with wanderingjew - and it passed his smell-test, if I remember right.  It is not in the same league as anything one would find in the northeast.

    This photo was taken a few years ago.



    I believe that they do serve National brand corned beef, but they do give you a decent sandwich for a pretty fair price.  They do have some standout bakery items, though, including their crumb-topped coffee cake - for which I would make the three-hour drive south!
    #18
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced 2009/05/07 11:01:03 (permalink)
    MiamiDon
    Yes, I am going to NY next week, and hope to stop at Katz's, Yonnah Schimmel's and The Pickle Guys one day in The City.


    Easy routing, for sure.  Katz's and Yonnah Schimmel are two blocks apart, with Russ and Daughters in between.

    The Pickle Guys are also right near Doughnut Plant and Kossar's Bialys.  I am pretty sure that your routing would also take you right by Economy Candy and a little treat that I was shown last weekend by billyboy in the LES, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, which makes a fun cupcake.

    In other words, you can't swing a dead cat in that area without hitting fabulous Roadfood.
    #19
    MiamiDon
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    NYC Roadfood 2009/05/07 15:57:40 (permalink)
    Thanks for the tips, Travelin Man.  I'm actually going to be in NYC on at least two days, and had pencilled-in Doughnut Plant.  I'm trying to make one day a "carry-out/leftovers" day in which I'll bring an insulated backpack with some cold-packs.

    BTW, if you took the above Moe's photo, it is making the rounds of the internet!
    post edited by MiamiDon - 2009/05/07 15:59:01
    #20
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/07 19:35:44 (permalink)
    I most certainly did take the above photo.  Where else did you see it?
    #21
    ann peeples
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/07 20:09:03 (permalink)
    I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of eating pastrami or corned beef on the east coast.But we have some good Jewish delis in Milwaukee.I love Jakes for corned beef( hand sliced), Benjis for their chopped liver, and a lesser known place called the Kosher Meat Club in central Milw. for their hand cut pastrami.
    #22
    acer2x
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/07 20:19:21 (permalink)
    Whoa! Those french fries at Mo's look sick. The corned beef looks like most of the delis in Philly- thin machine sliced.
     
    Anyone see Flakowitz Deli in Boyton Beach on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives?
    #23
    Baah Ben
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/07 21:18:26 (permalink)
    MD - Try to get to the Donut Plant before you do the pastrami, pickles, etc.  The yeast donut is the one to get like BillyBoy told me when we were there.

    Normally, I love cake donuts.  But, their's are not the typical cake donut with that nice crispy thick exterior and the heavy inside..Then again, their yeast donuts are unlike anything I've ever had before.  Really good!  You'll love them.  Each day or each week they have a different menu. 

    Hey, right down the block is a bialy place that I use to go to all the time back in the late 70's called Koscar's (sp).  Get up early so you can have breakfast (bialy and a donut) and then you'll have room for lunch.  Everything is within walking distance of you.

    I use to love a fresh bialy with salted butter and baked salmon.  Fantastic.  Never put cream cheese on a bialy......

    So, after seeing the Carnegie's machine sliced corned beef and pastrami, are you all still voting for hand sliced?  Not so easy a choice is it.....

    Moe...Moe....Moe.....No ...No...No....
    post edited by Baah Ben - 2009/05/08 11:37:31
    #24
    ellen4641
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/07 22:39:26 (permalink)
    Moe, Moe, Moe.....no , no , no...
    not for their standard "National Brand" pastrami, anyway...
    it's just another "slicer joint" as far as pastrami goes..

    however ,  Moes is good for certain things, as I remember a real good bread basket..
    (danish, etc)

    looking forward to hearing your report from Moe's , Miami Don!
    #25
    MiamiDon
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/08 07:40:02 (permalink)
    TT:  I was wrong.  I looked again, and the three hits were all of your photo(s) on Flickr.

    Acer2X, Baah Ben, Ellen4641:  I'm going to Moe's because my friends are going to be there, which is more important than the food.
     
    By the way, I found this interesting tidbit in a New Times review:
     
    Mo has recently introduced a new line of cold cuts, the same brand served at New York's renowned Carnegie Deli.
     
    http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2002-10-17/dining/lox-stock-bagel
    post edited by MiamiDon - 2009/05/08 16:35:33
    #26
    carolina bob
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/08 10:07:53 (permalink)
    Since I like sandwich meat shaved nice n' thin ( roast beef, corned beef, polish ham, whatever ), my vote is for machine-sliced.
    #27
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/08 11:19:09 (permalink)
    MiamiDon
     
    By the way, I found this interesgint tidbit in a New Times review:
     
    Mo has recently introduced a new line of cold cuts, the same brand served at New York's renowned Carnegie Deli.
     
    http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2002-10-17/dining/lox-stock-bagel


    That article was written in 2002.  I was there more recently than that - it is possible that they have changed again - perhaps realizing that they could not make any money selling Carnegie pastrami at Miami prices?? 

    I did not have their pastrami, but their corned beef is not something that I would ever link with the famed NYC delis.
    post edited by The Travelin Man - 2009/05/08 11:20:28
    #28
    Baah Ben
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/08 11:42:47 (permalink)
    MD - Take them to Steve's..JUST KIDDING. 

    Hey, seriously I went to a pretty good French style bakery-Sandwich place on Biscayne in the 130's.  In a new Publix shopping center.

    The Sage does have outdoor seating, if you decided to go elsewhere.  Have a great time.
    #29
    ellen4641
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    Re:NYC Roadfood 2009/05/08 12:46:59 (permalink)
    good points, Travelin' Man....
    (that perhaps they tried the Carnegie brand in 2002, but did'nt stick with it, due to pricing)..................cause that 2002 article confused me a bit, as well........ as I was pretty sure they told me they used National brand when I called up last year.... then I even grabbed a menu  at that time from Mo's  short-lived 2nd location in the Adventura food court..
    I believe it had said "National brand" right on their menu...
    I'll check when I get home from dealing poker, and take a pic and post it (assuming I can find it.... ....... I rarely seem to throw stuff out)
    #30
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