A Visit to the Bad Jew
The Bad Jew, a popup deli in Los Angeles, takes that takes the old adage “do one thing and do it well” and elevates it to art.
The pastrami sandwich is a staple of Jewish delis all across the world. But The Bad Jew, a popup restaurant from Rebecca King that’s really taken off in Los Angeles, stands apart from every one of them.
Unlike other delis, which make pastrami from cuts of beef, The Bad Jew’s pastrami is made from pork. After dry-brining pork shoulder for 10 days, King then smokes that cut of meat to perfection. The result of this process is a juicy, flavorful pastrami variant she calls porkstrami, and it just so happens to be the perfect meat to build a sandwich or two around.
Because King’s sandwiches are made from her porkstrami, they’re definitely not kosher. Jews call non-kosher food treif, and King has embraced this culinary paradox, calling The Bad Jew “a very unkosher Jewish deli.” And it’s a deli that’s become increasingly popular over the course of the last year.
Here at the Los Angeles Explorers Guild, we’re always keen to try a new sandwich, and we’d been meaning to visit The Bad Jew for some time. But the roving deli always tended to pop-up in locations on the western side of the city. And while we have nothing against the west side, these particular spots were often a little further away than was convenient.
So when we saw that The Bad Jew had scheduled a pop-up for March 21at Hyperion Public, we mounted an expedition to Silver Lake to score some porkstrami sandwiches.
The Bad Jew has just two sandwiches on the menu. The Reubecca, King’s namesake sandwich, is made with her porkstrami and sauerkraut on grilled rye. The Danny Boy (named after her friend and barbecue mentor Danny Gordon of Flat Point Barbecue) has porkstrami accompanied by mustard and house-made slaw on rye bread. Both are served with a very pickle-forward Russian dressing and generous slices of havarti cheese.
We do love a good reuben, so we were a little bummed out when we learned that The Bad Jew was only offering the Danny Boy at the Hyperion Public popup. But that was okay, because we also enjoy a good pastrami sandwich. Besides we can always return to try the Reubecca on a future exploration. So we happily picked up a trio of Danny Boys to feed the hungry Explorer crew.
The Danny Boy sold for $18, which is a lot to ask for a sandwich. But let’s be honest — the Danny Boy is a lot of sandwich. One can easily feed two people. Although this does pose a small problem — it’s such a good sandwich, everyone is going to want to eat a whole one.
The Danny Boy is a well-designed sandwich with all the components complementing each other nicely. The porkstrami is quite delicious, and the Russian dressing lends a nice tangy flavor to every bite. If I had one quibble, I’d say that the bread slices were a little thicker than I prefer. But, like any good pastrami sandwich, The Danny Boy makes for a messy meal. So considering the heft of this sandwich, any lesser bread probably couldn’t keep it together.
If you’re a fan of pastrami and aren’t put off by a little treif, then a visit to The Bad Jew won’t disappoint.