About six months ago I noticed a sign posted on an empty building along Beach Blvd. in Stanton with a logo reading "Poofy's Pastrami - real New York pastrami comes to California." The sign had a slick look that suggested that it may be a chain or something, but an internet search turned up nothing. So I waited and waited, watching patiently as construction slowly progressed on this place. Finally about two weeks ago I noticed an "open for business" banner, which stated hours of 10 AM to 10 PM. Unable to convince my fiancée to be a guinea pig with me and try this place out, I finally ventured out on my own on Tuesday.
Poofy's is located at Beach and Lampson across from a Quizno's and beside a Subway, so sandwich competition is fierce on this corner (there's a similar situation down the street in Anaheim at Beach and Ball where an El Pollo Loco, El Pollo Norteño and Juan Pollo all slug it out for your roast chicken dollar). Poofy's has some advantages and disadvantages - the main advantage being that it's an independently owned shop (as if that really matters in that area) that serves decent food and the main disadvantage being that it's considerably more expensive than the chains. Oh, and there's another huge disadvantage - the name. Hasn't the owner ever been to England (or seen an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus)? I'm sure my British friends will get as much a kick out of this place as they did out of Bullock's ("Bullock's? Bollocks! Ha, ha, ha!"). For the owner's sake, I hope that "poofy" refers to the sandwich and not to him.
Inside Poofy's looks like your run-of-the-mill fast food emporium. There are two dispensers for your usual Pepsi products on each side of the counter, the place is brightly lit with fluorescent lighting and the tile floor and Formica tables look clean. Taking a cue perhaps from In-n-Out, the menu is sparse and lists only a handful of items:
Sandwiches (pastrami, brisket, corned beef, or turkey: $6.99; hot dogs: $3.75; chili dogs: $4.35)
Sides (hand-cut fries: $2.49; chili cheese fries: $3.19; onion strips: $2.79; chili cheese onion strips: $3.49; chili: $2.19; potato pancakes: $2.39; deli skins: $4.89; parmesan-crusted sweet potato chips: $3.99)
Drinks (the aforementioned Pepsi products: $1.59; water: 99 cents)
Combo (Sandwich, fries, cole slaw, drink): $9.95
Sandwiches come on a choice of either New York rye, baked roll, 9-grain walnut cranberry (hey, it's California after all) and whole wheat. Not listed on the menu were Dr. Brown's sodas in cans and shrink-wrapped packages of pastrami that you could take home and slice on your own butcher's slicer.
I ordered a pastrami on rye combo, to go, since the restaurant was empty except for the 7-8 (!) employees behind the counter. My combo was ready in about two minutes, and I quickly sped home to consume my meal while it was still fresh and hot, although I snacked on the fries on the way home.
The fries made a good first impression. They were definitely hand cut from fresh potatoes and were similar to what you get at In-n-Out, although I think they're cooked much better. Whereas In-n-Out's fries can be too soggy or limp or fried to a crisp like Durkee's potato sticks (when you specify "well-done"), these fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy (poofy?) on the inside with a nice, fresh potato flavor.
The pastrami on the sandwich was stacked about 1-1/2 to 2 inches high, and the only condiments were yellow French's-style mustard and pickles (Beaver mustard bottles are on the tables if you eat in). I took a peek under the hood and noticed that the meat, which was heated up, had a brownish color instead of the usual pinkish color of most deli pastrami, probably a result of the heating. The meat is sliced thin, and it seemed more "lumped" together than stacked like a New York deli sandwich.
Overall the meat was pretty lean, but there were a few flecks of fat for richness and moisture - a good sign. I picked up a piece for a taste test and it was good - not near Langer's quality, but more like something in between what you'd get at the Hat or Johnnie's and a good deli. There seemed to be a complexity to flavor, with different bites yielding different flavors. At one point I thought I tasted brisket and then corned beef, but maybe a few remnants of those meats were mixed in haphazardly.
The sandwich's weakest link was the rye bread, particularly the crust, which had the consistency and toughness of dried cardboard. The doughy part of the bread was passable and soaked up the pastrami juices nicely, but it was like a decent loaf of store-bought rye. By NY deli standards the sandwich wasn't overly huge either - the slices probably measured about six inches in width and three-and-a-half inches in height - but it still was a hearty portion. I didn't try the coleslaw as the fries and sandwich filled me up.
Poofy's is somewhat expensive for your average fast food sandwich joint, but cheap by deli standards. For example, the sandwich and fries alone would have cost about $10 at the nearby Katella Deli and I think the sandwich compares favorably with what the Katella Deli offers in terms of portion size and flavor. However, I hope they find a new source for rye bread. Until then, I may just content myself with getting a slab of pastrami from them, slicing it up at home and placing it on my own German rye. A New Yorker may kvetch that the pastrami isn't as good as Katz's or the Second Ave. Deli, but it's still much better than most of the deli pastrami you'll find around.
12500 Beach Blvd. (at Lampson)