Russ & Daughters
179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Tel: +1 (212) 475.4880
205 East Houston Street (corner of Ludlow St)
New York, NY 10002
Tel: +1 (212) 254-2246
379 Grand Street
New York, NY 10012
What happens when you're on holiday and there's never enough time to squeeze in all the things you want to eat?... You put them all in one meal!
And that's exactly what happened one morning on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Our first stop was to Russ & Daughters.
Originally set up in 1914 and had a name change in 1933, this institution is still kept within the Russ family today. I got to know about this place through one of the episodes of No Reservations (I think?). And this was one place I specifically told R I had to visit. Russ & Daughters is famous for their smoked and cured fish, bagels and delectable cream cheeses. So if you don't like any of those things, you're probably in the wrong place. For me, I could live and possibly die there and I'm not even half kidding. That's how much I love it there.
Gaspe Nova Smoked Salmon, Wild Alaskan Salmon Roe with Cream Cheese on a Sesame Bagel
Instead of trying to make our own sandwich, we went with the easier option of choosing something off the menu. So we went for the Mensch which consisted of Sturgeon and Cream Cheese on a Plain Bagel and the Daughter's Delight which was made up of Gaspe Nova Smoked Salmon, Wild Alaskan Salmon Roe with Cream Cheese on a Sesame Bagel. Both were extremely delicious but R and I agreed on our preference being the Mensch. It probably was because of the salmon roe that made the bagel saltier and heavier. The sturgeon on the other hand was lightly smoked and just simple and delicate in flavour. It was also a little more interesting considering that it's not a type of smoked fish that we see much of in our part of the world.
Sturgeon with Cream Cheese on a Plain Bagel
Knowing that we were headed to a second stop, R and I only ate half our bagel, leaving the rest for later. That didn't stop us from getting some items "to go". The cured Salmon Belly Lox was the fattiest and tastiest cured salmon I've probably ever eaten, the Sable was moist and flavourful and the Scallion Cream Cheese was amazing; I brought it all the way with me as we travelled from the East to the West Coast and had it with toast for breakfast.
Our second stop was to the classic and famous Katz's Deli.
Was I slightly filled from breakfast at Russ & Daughters? Yes.
Did I allow for time to digest what I ate at Russ & Daughters? Nope, because Katz's was literally within the same block down the street.
Did that stop me from enjoying one of the best pastrami sandwiches you can find in the US? Not really.
And so, we soldiered on.
R and I decided to go straight for the Pastrami and Corned Beef sandwiches. And I, intrigued with Jewish food, had to try the Matzo Ball Soup which I've always heard so much about. The meats were so tasty but the clear standout was the pastrami as it was incredibly flavourful, smoky and tender. Layers and layers of delicious meat sandwiched between 2 slices of bread with a smear of mustard - what's not to like?
Corned Beef Sandwich
Matzo balls are Jewish soup dumplings that are made from matzo meal, eggs, water and fat such as schmaltz also known as chicken fat, oil or margarine. I know it doesn't sound all that appetising but effectively, a matzo ball kind of has a similar texture to wet bread. The soup which was essentially a chicken broth, was clear yet extremely flavourful. I couldn't finish it all (no prizes for guessing why) but oddly, I didn't mind that dish one bit.
Matzo Ball Soup
So we were done with the fish and meat courses and pretty much rounded up our Jewish experience. What was next? Dessert of course. So we trucked on to our third stop of the morning, Doughnut Plant.
Those who have been following my blog or at least looked through my older posts would know that I've wrote about Doughnut Plant before. You can read that post here. 7 years on and I still recalled how awesome the Tres Leches doughnut was so I made sure that R got to have a taste of what I had been telling him about for so long.
The flavours here change from time to time. Some staples and favourites never ever go off the menu such as Tres Leches and the Blackout. There are mainly 3 types of doughtnuts; yeast which is light and airy, cake which is self-explanatory (ie. cake-like texture) and filled which are mini doughnuts usually filled with custards, creams or house made jams.
We had to have the Tres Leches that I had raved so much about. Filled and covered with 'three milks' namely evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream, the Tres Leches doughnut was just how I remembered it to be - sweet, moist and incredibly satisfying. We also tried the Crème Brûlée filled doughnut which tasted exactly like the dessert with the caramelised sugar top and the creamy vanilla laced custard. Both flavours were winners in my book.
Tres Leches Cake Doughnut
Crème Brûlée Filled Doughnut
Of course we had to take something to go since our stomachs could no longer take any more. We got another signature doughnut for the road; the Blackout which is a chocolate cake doughnut that's filled with chocolate pudding and dipped in a chocolate glaze. If you're a chocolate lover, I'm sure you don't want to miss that. Even I was a chocolate convert at that moment.
And that was our Lower East Side morning adventure. And guess what, we had a lunch reservation 1.5 hours later.