Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Ben's Best Deli

Rego Park, NY

Review by The Undercover Tourists

This place apparently has the best pastrami in New York, even better than the more famous Carnegie Deli in Manhattan. Ben's brines and smokes its own meat, has the de riguer rye bread made especially for them, and even The New York Times voted it Numero Uno. So when doing a tour de deli, one needs to hack their way into the wilds of Queens to sample, don't you think?

We're glad we did. It really is a little local deli. It's a bit dowdy, like it's been here for years (it has -- the current owner is the son of the original), and on Fridays before sunset, there is a long line of people waiting to get their prepared meals for the Jewish sabbath. That's as good a testimony of good food as a crowded Chinese restaurant full of loud Chinese!

There are about a dozen tables set in the back of the space; the front is the deli counter and the hot food display. The waiter and waitress are always the same people, so they'll remember you!

When you sit down, the deli requirements of "health salad" (cole slaw) and pickles (sour and green) were set down for you. We did order the matzoah ball soup (served in a "Jewish Penicillin" mug and it was tasty, though not as tasty as other places. The matzoah ball was good, though. We bought some of the labelled mugs because we felt that we must have the proper vessel to administer Jewish penicillin when "medicating" ourselves!) and pastrami sandwich, of course. The sandwich is indeed great, and as usual, served without condiments. (The only proper condiment is mustard, by the way.)

We also decided to diversify a bit and ordered a chicken salad (in mayonnaise) sandwich (another great Jewish stand-by but a little bland in flavor -- this is the reason why some of us never order mayo-based salads in a NYC deli, though we'd forgotten why and were reminded now), chicken fingers and fries (chicken in a basket, apparently; do kids ever get sick of fried chicken strips??), and decided to try the green salad and a fruit salad. The fruit salad came chopped in grape-sized pieces and served in a sundae glass. Interesting, and an unexpected serving surprise. The green salad was a little like the one at Junior's in that it was way too big for its plate, so it was impossible to toss to eat. We guess you're meant to "mine" it, eating from the top downwards.

This was our final meal in NYC, and a great ending to a week of fine dining and sightseeing and walking till our feet fell off! We tried to go lighter on the food with the salads and all, but it is NYC-style deli food. It's spoiled us for any food of this type anywhere else; there is a lot to recommend this city, of course, but don't miss the pastrami when you're here! Especially at a place like Ben's -- out of the way and worth the trek.

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