My recent nostalgia for the States has been punctuated with cravings for a good sandwich, something I’d taken for granted during my days in Philly. So ever since I stumbled upon the website of one “NYC Deli” weeks ago while googling “burritos in Shanghai” (don’t ask), I’ve been pestering Sean to pay a visit with me. Yesterday was the big day.
Greeted with a pretty impressive menu, we decided to go for an order of “South Philly cheesesteak” (how could we resist?) and a combo meal involving a corned beef reuben, beef barley soup, lay’s chips, a cookie, and a drink. At 38rmb and 60rmb respectively, both sandwiches also came with a pickle and home-made coleslaw.
My first reaction upon seeing the reuben was: the meat looks dry. And then: the bread looks wrong. As it turned out, the meat was fine, the sauerkraut and dressing (thousand island though it was) weren’t bad, but the bread was definitely not rye, and not soaked in oil, as I remember from college dining days. In spite of this, and even though they could’ve done with a little more cheese, the sandwich was tasty on the whole. It almost felt healthful.
[I’m looking now at the menu we picked up and it looks like rye is one of the bread choices–we’d just neglected to specify. Don’t reubens by definition use rye though?? Ergh.]
And then the cheesesteak. At first I was a little perturbed that it came in a “French baguette”, but I have to say that it gave the beloved Italian hoagie a run for its money–what it lacked in delightful chewiness it made up with a crispy crust. The meat (can’t say for sure it was steak) and onions weren’t bad. But the cheese warrants a mention. It was creamy and runny, as cheesesteak cheese tends to be, but tasted a little suspect–tangier than cheez whiz. So I asked the server/manager what it was, and his response was “We mix it ourselves.” Hmm. Right. We were going to let it go, but then he offered that it was a blend of cheddar and evaporated milk…which at least sounds better for you than the chemical orgy that is cheez whiz. Now there’s only so much one can expect of a South Philly sandwich in a New York-style joint in China, so I have to give these good people points for effort.
My expectations had been guarded to begin with, so the experience was satisfying on the whole. Even though these weren’t exactly the sandwiches I held in my memory, they were still quite tasty, and did ease my “homesickness” a little bit. So until we discover a rival deli, we’ll probably be back.
As if we hadn’t had enough meat for the day, the street we walked up after dinner was lined with shops like this:
While a cut of raw pig didn’t appeal too much to us, we stopped by a mall on our way home and shared 3 Subway cookies and 2 egg tarts, making it a truly glorious, heart-stoppingly American night.