After all the eggroll mishigas we've been through over the past few days (see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349884 ), I decided to give Genghis Cohen another shot.
I stopped in at an odd hour (around 4:45pm) and was greeted by a friendly Chinese woman (funny, I always figured Genghis Cohen was run by some LA hipsters). I got to talking with the lady about her eggrolls, and how strange it is that with all the NY transplants here in LA, why they are the only ones who make NY style eggrolls.
She said, "Of course we make NY eggrolls-- I'm from New York!"
AH HA! That explains a LOT. I wanted to probe more into her experiences coming from Hong Kong to NY and then finally to LA, and what she thinks about LA eggrolls, and why do they deep fry pork dumplings and call them eggrolls, and what's up with that ketchup here they try to pass off as sweet & sour sauce... but she was scurrying about and I didn't want to disrupt her flow.
ONTO THE EGGROLLS:
I opened the takeaway bag and was greeted with 2 mini containers of........ you guessed it......... DUCK SAUCE and SINUS BLASTING HOT MUSTARD!!! Woo hoo!!!! Now listen up, all you LA guys, when I tell you that didn't even need to ask for it. It was simply there, in the bag, as it should be, for all eternity. Again (for emphasis).... I didn't even need to ask! Amazing.
I delved deeper inside the bag and discovered a little plastic container with a paper doily at the bottom were two visions of deep fried, golden brown loveliness.
EXTERIOR: The skin color, texture and size of the eggrolls were just perfect. Deep, golden brown, blistered and bubbly skin, with the crispy exterior and chewy interior that us NY transplants love.
THE FILLING: Of course the heart and soul of the eggroll is in the filling. Das Ubergeek and Professor Salt will be most happy to know that the eggroll filling does in fact contain BOTH shredded bbq pork and mini shrimp!
The shredded cabbage, however, was sort of green and leafy (in NY it's always white), and the wilting of the green leaf made the texture ever so slightly slimy-- whereas in a true NY eggroll, the cabbage should be entirely crunchy. Hmm, minus a few points for authenticity there.
In addition, the overall flavor of the interior was relatively bland. The best NY eggrolls have a wonderful harmony of flavors, which brings all the individual components together. The interior will stand up on its own, but this one sadly did not. The flavor really was 95% crunchy, salty, deep fried exterior skin and only 5% filling... it needs to be more balanced. For example, even though the filling did include the bbq pork and shrimp, they contributed to authenticity of texture, but not to flavor. Too bad.
The overall flavor of the eggroll is distinctly New Yorky in style, but I have to say that if I lived in Brooklyn and GC set up shop there among the masses of restaurants which prepare eggrolls better, I would not be going out of my way to eat GC's version. I *DEFINITELY* would not be paying $5.15 for two (price includes tax... in NYC they're generally 99 cents each.
However I don't live in Brooklyn... I live off Fairfax, and considering that it seems that this is the only eggroll of its kind for 3000 miles, it'll have to do.
In fact when you dip the eggroll into the HONEST TO GOODNESS DUCK SAUCE and SINUS BLASTING HOT MUSTARD (truly... I was incapacitated for 5 minutes on first gulp), it masks some of the inferiorities and if you close your eyes, you can pretty much convince yourself that you're eating the real deal. Almost.
SO......... after much debate, personal reflection and Chowhound research, I'm ready to declare the eggrolls at Genghis Cohen the closest to NY I've ever found outside of the tristate area... which, unfortunately, is not a claim of high praise! However, it is what it is, and overall it's an adequate approximation considering our geographic divergence (and non-existent selection)
Would love for other NY area transplants to try it out and chime in here.