by Andrew Morrison | I slipped into Mensch at 666 East Broadway for a quick takeaway lunch today, salivating over the idea of a hot, hand-cut pastrami Reuben sandwich on springboard rye with sauerkraut and Russian dressing. It was the real deal, all thick and juicy. I’m not opposed to the machine “shaved” stuff, but I much prefer pastrami thick-cut like they do at the more famous Jewish deli/institutions (eg. Katz in New York or Langer’s in LA). Cutting it thick shows that it’s been cooked properly, not unlike hand-carved Texas brisket. If you cut it thin, you’re hiding the most obvious evidence of perfection: the toothsome texture.
I’d been especially curious/keen to try Mensch’s pastrami because it’s slow brined and smoked in house rather than imported from Montreal and reanimated, which is the typical practice in Vancouver and other Canadian cities. My first try was a homerun. The meat feels dense on the tooth but falls apart with a bite, just as it should. I’d be curious about the smoke/spice packet and brine as the saline quotient was really subtle, allowing the texture to play the palate as much as the taste. It was a little on the fatty side (more pronounced with a thick cut), but don’t take that as a negative; it just means more flavour.
I’ll eat a few more before I start buying the stuff by the pound for home use (I like to make my own Russian dressing), but truth be told, not only did I eat the Reuben, I also took down (with the help of one of my sons) a hot pastrami and mustard sandwich and a sweet kugel for dessert, both of which are pictured in the gallery at the bottom of this post. Bonus: good rye from the nearby Sweet Salt bakery, and delicious house pickles!
So I’m glad Mench isn’t going anywhere. What started as a pop-up series is now a permanent fixture, and the Fraserhood is the better for it. Check it out from 11am to 3pm, Sunday through Wednesday, and from 11am to 7pm on Thursdays and Fridays. The official word I’ve included below. Mazel tov.
Mensch. Jewish Delicatessen brings to Vancouver a legit, slow brined, smoked and hand cut hot pastrami sandwich and the best Reuben on a fresh baked rye bread, beet cured Lox on a poppy seed bagel and a delicious Egg salad on a fresh and sweet challa bread. All of that with our house made dill pickle and a sweet lokshen Kugel for dessert.
We will still have Lior’s Babkas every Friday (and for pre-ordering), as well as some surprising adds to the menu at the high holidays through the year. Also, our house made pastrami will be offered to sell by the pound, as well as our beet cured lox, our house made Labneh cheese and our egg salad. Mensch. Jewish Delicatessen will also offer a delivery through Foodee and DoorDash, as well as TA and catering options.
Nitzan Cohen, Former Executive Chef of “Cocktails & Canapes” and Chef de cuisine of “Blackbird Public House”, is an Israeli-born, professionally trained Chef with a passion for food who moved to Canada six years ago to further grow his career.
With experience working under the tutelage of a number of notable names in the culinary industry (both abroad and in Vancouver), Nitzan has more than made his mark in the industry and now set his sights on establishing his own authentic Jewish delicatessen like no one has done in this city.