Note: I forgot to write down prices. Bummer. But the total for my meal was 29.81, and that included Halvah.
Upon reading winedubar's post on Katz's Deli, I made immediate plans to to visit and moved Matt's Big Breakfast a notch down my TO-EAT list. It's been some time since I had genuinely good Jewish-deli type food.
I love my shiksas, but in my heart I'm a down-home Jewish mensch. My birth-shtetl was in the heart of Suburban Jewish-Chicago and I attended shul in Skokie. Although I may have strayed from my roots a bit (what with the shiksa loving refusing to circumcise my son), I lust for good Jewish cooking.
The interior of Katz did roil me up, somewhat. It cracked shades of the 70s. I thought I smelled pickles, but Tamara told me it was rust. The deli counter did look sad, with lone slab of beef purpling away near the dirty glass. I cheered myself up by telling Tamara that it reminded me of the eateries I used to frequent back east. She looked doubtful.
I ordered the King Deli Sandwich, a potato knish, and a cup of matzo ball soup. Tamara asked for the Philly Vegetarian.
The matzo ball soup came first. Its raiments overflowed - nice, round chunks of both light and dark meat, carrots, and celery. In it all reined a massive matzo ball sprinkled with what appeared to be parsley. I dug in excitedly and pulled out disappointed. The broth tasted canned. Oddly enough, the chicken was spongy, like it had been proper soup-stock. My guess is that they cooked the chicken in the ready-made broth.
I hope I'm wrong.
In an attempt to salvage the soup, I took a large bite of the mazto ball. It was dense and tasteless. I'm aware that there are two camps of ball followers: those that like them dense, and those that like 'em fluffy. I fall into the latter category and I like to soak my balls in a salt-water solution to give them the right amount of flavor. Katz balls lacked salt.
The knish arrived after I pushed aside my soup. I admit that the first time I ever tasted a knish was well into my college career. A friend from Long Island pulled me into a Bethedsa deli and forced one into my hands. I remember it tasty, but I don't remember it fried like Katz's. Nevertheless, my fork cracked its exterior and dug in. Katz's knish knew oil a bit too long. The delicate potato taste was almost overwhelmed by the fryer. Tamara took a bit and proclaimed it excellent.
My judgment questioned, I ate determinedly and decided that once a few more bites came in, it wasn't too bad. It would have been better less fried, though.
The king deli sandwich came and it was certainly kingly. Three layers of proper meat basked between two rye bread slices. I tried each meat individually. The salami, pastrami, and corned beef all lavishly endowed my memories with a nice stroll to my hometown. I felt like I was noshing after shul. Taken whole, the texture of the salami detracted from the pastrami and the corned beef. The sandwich truly shone once it was removed and separately consumed.
I enjoyed my sandwich far too much to pay attention to Tamara's philly, but she mentioned that her fries were frozen and the sandwich had too much cheese.
While Katz has many flaws, its strong points make another visit worthwhile. Next round, I think I'll bring my mother and we'll sample the liver dish together.
Matt's Big Breakfast
801 N 1st Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Katz Delicatessan & Sandwich
5144 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ