Orleans & York Deli

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Orleans & York Deli
4454 W Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90043
(323) 291-8800
orleansandyorkdeli.com

Once you get a hang of how things work, and used to the people who actively participate in the crowd-sourcing, Chowhound is an excellent source of unearthing new eats in town. I had some initial difficulties in finding new lunch spots near work, but after doing some research, I came across a place that was recommended in the forums and very much nearby: Orleans & York Deli. The name and the menu did worry me a little, since it seems like they’re trying to do both cajun/creole cuisine AND a variety of sandwiches they consider “New York” (hence the name of the restaurant). It also doesn’t help when there’s no restaurant in LA that truly does food from the Big Easy justice, so the place would be charting new waters.

While Orleans & York isn’t a full-scale cajun/creole restaurant, the food they serve that is within the realm of the cuisine is excellent – this po’ boy here can’t get enough of them po’ boys! The fried catfish one is very good, but it’s all about the fried shrimp po’ boy. Plump, well-seasoned and fried pieces of shrimp (they could be as large as 21/25, which is unprecedented for such a casual restaurant), fresh house-baked baguettes, and DAT HOT SAUCE – so hot. The sandwiches aren’t necessarily cheap – the po’ boys are $9-11 each, but they’re essentially footlongs, so you’re getting plenty for what you’re paying for. I haven’t tried the “New York” side of the menu, but my coworkers seem to be fairly satisfied with some of the offerings. But it’s like what my man Bubba said in Forrest Gump: “shrimp is the fruit of the sea” – and it’s plenty fruitful here.

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
Cajun/Creole View Park/Windsor Hills $ B+

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Porchetta Truck (Bucato)

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Porchetta Truck (Bucato)
http://twitter.com/BucatoLA

For a while last year, I conducted a half-assed search for good porchetta in L.A., in sandwich form in particular. By half-assed search, I mean I asked around on Chowhound and did some moderate internet browsing. A good number of people and sources pointed me in the direction of the porchetta sandwiches at Mozza2Go and Sotto, respectively. However, I haven’t seen the porchetta sandwich on the former’s menu in over a year, and while I work very close to the latter (where they only serve the sandwich during lunch), I just wasn’t feeling it for some reason. My favorite version had been the one served at Fundamental LA, but like with Mozza2Go, I haven’t seen it on the menu in over a year. Then sometime last month, Chef Evan Funke answered my prayers…

Chef Funke was the chef at Rustic Canyon, where he was the man behind those well-acclaimed burgers (though my visit wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be) and handmade pastas. He has since decamped from the Loeb/Nathan empire, and branched out on his own, taking up the space left by Beacon in the Helms Bakery District. But before the restaurant, Bucato, opens, Chef has decided to feature the porchetta that will be on the opening menu, and serve it via food truck around West L.A. (think RoliRoti). This version of the porchetta sandwich has thinly shaved slices of roast pork (a combination of pork loin and pork belly), arugula, pork crackling, lemon juice, and a pesto Modena made from garlic, rosemary, Parmigiano Reggiano, black pepper and…lard.

If that description above didn’t make you drool, then allow me to say that 1) this was the best sandwich I’ve eaten in a long time, 2) this was the best thing I’ve eaten in 2013 (so far), and 3) the search is over. I actually didn’t hear much about the truck over its first few weeks of operations, but that proved to be the perfect storm, as the good news arrived with authority (example). The sandwich isn’t very big (think of those ciabatta burgers that Jack in the Box was serving a while back), but the heaviness does hit you shortly after you’ve devoured it. The thin slices of pork carried just the right balance of meatiness and fattiness, and everything just went with it so well. The squeeze of lemon juice gave it just the right touch of acidity,the pesto was powerful but not overwhelming, the ciabatta was much lighter than I expected and crisp, and even the hint of freshly cracked black pepper proved to be genius.

I ate two sandwiches right then and there: one of the sandwiches topped with a fried egg (highly recommended – let that runny egg yolk flow), as well as their one-day-only off-menu special. It’s a good thing they told me about the special – porchetta benedict, because it held its own against the Michigan Wolverines of my culinary AP poll. It was basically a sandwich still, on the same ciabatta, as opposed to two individual benedicts. But the egg was well-poached, and the acidity of the hollandaise was a pleasant surprise – better than the heavy, curdled mess one is accustomed to. Probably not worth $4 more than the regular sandwich, but a more than welcome addition to the menu, and I look forward to seeing it on Bucato’s menu if they serve brunch.

Right now, the truck will probably stick to a somewhat consistent routine until the restaurant opens in around eight weeks’ time. So expect it at the Santa Monica food truck alley on 26th and Pennsylvania around lunchtime Wednesdays-Fridays, around lunchtime on Saturdays and Sundays at Helms Bakery (near the future Bucato), and at the Santa Monica Wine Expo at least a couple of nights a week – but check their Twitter and Instagram for exact details. Basically, this is a truck worth chasing, and enjoy the chase while you can – because once the chase is over, you’ll never relive that thrill and magic ever again.

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Porchetta Sandwich ($6), add egg (+$2)

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Porchetta Benedict ($10 – off-menu special)

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
Sandwiches (Food Truck) $ A-

The Grilled Cheese Truck

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Wasn’t a big fan of this place in the past. Grilled cheese sandwiches marked up and served out of a truck? Recipe for disaster. But the Grilled Cheese Truck continues to be one of the most acclaimed and popular food trucks in the city. So when it came by my work a few weeks ago, I gave it another shot (despite the long line). Ordered their signature Cheesy Mac and Rib grilled cheese sandwich, which has mac and cheese with sharp cheddar, BBQ pork, and caramelized onions. Unlike many other trucks that serve stuff you can easily make at home, at least it seems like a lot of care went into the sandwiches here, despite their simple appearance. Bread well-grilled, mac and cheese authentically cheesy, BBQ pork cooked pretty well, and caramelized onions soft and sweet – all of these complementary components going into a heavy and hearty sandwich. Nothing amazing really, but satisfying to the simple boy in me.

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Chris Hei grade: B

The Grilled Cheese Truck
Twitter: @grlldcheesetruk

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Langer’s Deli

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It embarrasses me to say this, but my visit to Langer’s in March was the first time I’ve eaten there. EVER. I’ve had their stuff via catering and to-go a long, long time ago, but never managed to dine in at the restaurant, nor order what they’re known for: the pastrami sandwich. I blame their hours – they’re only open until 4pm Mondays-Saturdays. Still, truly embarrassing for a LA native to have not visited what is arguably THE dining landmark in the city. And it’s not like it just slipped my mind, either. I hear their radio ads on 710 ESPN every damn day.

I forgot how it transpired, but one Saturday afternoon, Daniel, Kevin, and myself just decided to go to Langer’s. We had mentioned going there on multiple occasions, but the idea wasn’t really premeditated. Just one of those abstract ideas you throw out there and expect everyone to forget about it. But there we were, suddenly determined to follow through. We went shortly before the restaurant closed at 4pm (around 3pm I think), but there was still a line out the door. Luckily, we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated.

My first thought: this place is much smaller than I envisioned. Guess that’s one reason why they’re always so busy. They are, after all, considered to be the best deli in town (or even the nation, according to some). I got the #19, which is pastrami on rye with Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing (their most famous and popular item). I’m ususally more of an old-fashioned person when it comes to my pastrami sandwich, which means just meat and bread, but everything just worked here. Of course, the highlights of the sandwich was still the meat and bread.

I read, shortly after my visit, that neither the meat or bread is made in-house (which is understandable, seeing how big the place is). That might seem like a negative (certainly brought my pastrami high down a little), but after thinking about it, the key aspect here is really what Langer’s does with what they’re given. I mean, a prototype wide receiver in the NFL can be 6’5″ and run a 4.4 40-yard dash, but all of that means nothing if he can’t produce on the field. Langer’s is able to utilize those given gifts and generate maximum output. The Calvin Johnson of all delis.

First of all, let’s talk about the meat. They’re thick-cut, fatty slices with a nice pepper crust. The meat itself is succulent and nicely seasoned, without being overly salty. There has to be a special way they’re steaming or preparing the pastrami, or else there would’ve been many imitators along the way. Then that rye bread, that pillow-soft bread with the crunchy crust. How do they manage such a perfect contrast? Double-baking, homie. Not a radically new concept, but one I’ve never seen utilized outside reading Yakitate!! Japan (manga about baking bread – don’t laugh at me, it’s good).

Veni, vidi, vici – finally, I came, I saw, and I conquered Langer’s Deli. I think I’m going to try it without all of the extras next time, just to see how much better I can truly appreciate the meat itself. But even in its somewhat overkill state, the #19 at Langer’s manages to leave all other deli sandwiches I’ve ever had in its dust. It’s amazing how execution of something so simple and (fairly) economical can delivery such gastronomic pleasures. Now if Langer’s would only open for 24 hours like Canter’s…

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Chris Hei grade: A-

Langer’s Deli
704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 483-8050

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The Munchie Machine

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Another food truck around work – this time it was The Munchie Machine stopping by. I haven’t had the best of luck with the food trucks here, or any food truck for that matter. Just can’t seem to get a really good experience from one. But The Munchie Machine was able to alleviate…none of my concerns (sorry, let’s just call that a late April fools joke). Like the name states, these are sandwiches that I would ideally crave if I had the munchies (maybe under the influence for others).

I ordered the Croque de Munchie – honey ham, fried egg, provolone, dijon and mayo. The sandwich itself wasn’t too bad, like I would really enjoy something like this if I made it myself at home. But there was nothing special about how it was made or any of the ingredients used – you can find them at your local supermarket. Not that it factored into my judgment, but $8 for a ham+egg+cheese sammie that I could make at home isn’t going to impress me. Also, the fries were kind of limp, but pretty tasty when tossed with some parmesan and pesto. Just asking for the world out of a food truck I suppose. At least it satisfied my munchies that day, but not my palate.

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Chris Hei grade: C

The Munchie Machine
Twitter: munchiemachine1

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Cook’s Tortas

2/12/12

After a basketball game a few Sundays ago in Covina, a few of us decided to eat at Cook’s Tortas for a late lunch, since it was kind of on the way back, and it’s one of Kevin’s favorite places. Like the name states, they serve tortas, or Mexican sandwiches. But instead of your traditional street food ones, the tortas here are a bit more classy, and not limited to traditional ingredients. Also, instead of using a bolillo or telera bread (the standard for tortas), Cook’s uses a bread that is more along the lines of a baguette and ciabatta, with a sourdough taste. I thought that the chew on the bread made it a nice vessel for the various combination of ingredients.

I ordered the ahogada, which was a wet sandwich that had carnitas and pickled onions, with the bread soaking up a spicy gravy and more of said gravy poured over the completed sandwich. The pork was cooked nicely and the sandwich tasted very good, although I didn’t really get any heat. And I thought that the flavors could’ve been a bit bolder. I had a bite of Daniel’s portobello mushroom sandwich, which was pretty good but a bit on the dry side. It looks like they rotate most of the sandwiches on a regular basis, which is cool. I really want to come back and try some of the other variations. Also, the agua frescas were very good. I tried the jamaica (hibiscus) and melon ones; both were very refreshing. And each sandwich comes with one side. I got the potato salad, which was okay. Will choose the sweet potato fries instead next time.

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Ahogada

Ahogada #10 – slow cooked pork, spicy double dip, extra napkins, onion pickles

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Chris Hei grade: B

Cook’s Tortas
1944 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(323) 278-3536

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Bruxie

2/4/12

I had never been to Bruxie until a couple of Saturdays ago, when I drove down to the OC to visit Greg (and Han later in that evening), because it’s so damn far. Even though I’m the one who told him about the place to begin with, Greg acts like he’s the ambassador of Bruxie when the place is brought up in conversations (the same goes for Burger Parlor). But in addition to raves from Greg, I read plenty of positive reports from fellow bloggers. So I was fairly enthusiastic about trying these waffle sandwiches…

We went to their second location that opened late last year in Brea, since it was the location closer to Greg’s apartment. The line was out the door (not nearly as long as Farrell’s though), but moved very quickly. Being the fatty that I am, I wanted to get one savory one and one sweet one. Like I previously mentioned, these are basically sandwiches that use a waffle in lieu of bread/buns. It’s an interesting take on it. The waffle wasn’t sweet, and was light and airy, with a slight crisp to it. Kind of like a puffy crepe. In fact, that’s probably how you should imagine these concoctions, as savory and sweet crepes, except waffles are used as the vessel.

For my savory one I got the buttermilk fried chicken, their most popular item on the menu. Basically there’s a big fried chicken strip with some slaw and honey that has a slight kick. It was solid, but not worth the hype. The chicken was a bit on the bland side, and had no crunch to it. I’ll go to Roscoe’s any day over this. For my sweet one I got the seasonal creme brulee. I like this one better than the fried chicken. It was actually like eating a creme brulee-stuffed waffle. The little pieces of burnt sugar was a nice touch.

I can see why Bruxie is so damn popular. It’s fast, casual, and fun – like your girl on the side (not that I would know). But to say that these waffle sandwiches are worth going out of my way for would be a vast overstatement. Still, if I’m in the area, or if Greg’s driving, I would have no problem coming back and trying some of their other interesting-sounding items.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle ($6.95) – chili honey & cider slaw

Seasonal Creme Brûlée

Seasonal Creme Brulee ($6.50) – classic vanilla creme with burnt raw sugar & seasonal fresh fruit

Chris Hei grade: B-

Bruxie
215 W Birch St, Ste 1
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 255-1188

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