“Does anybody ever order these?” I asked the waitress at my local deli as I pointed to the list of novelty sandwiches with names like Dr. Ruth Westheimer (brisket of beef, turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing) and the New York Newsday (salami, tongue, corned beef, and cole slaw). “Sure, all the time,” she said. By local deli I refer not to a bodega trafficking in bacon and cheese sandwiches but Ben’s Best, a bona fide Jewish deli with a 70-year history lovingly maintained by Jay Parker and his crew.
“Okay, I’ll have the Arch Electric,” I said ordering a $20.95 behemoth consisting of Chinese mustard, rolled beef, corned beef, sweet red pepper, cole slaw, and Russian dressing (Tums available on request).” In my 15 years of eating at Ben’s Best my go to order has been a pastrami on rye, so I was curious to switch it up a bit with this sandwich named for an L.I.C. based electrical contractor. Corned beef and rolled beef were a definite change of deli pace, Chinese hot mustard not so much, though I can’t say I’d ever had it in a Jewish deli.
In comparison to the humongous Arch Electric, Ben’s pastrami sandwich is downright dainty. The novelty sandwich’s combo of corned beef and rolled beef with the cole slaw and sweet red peppers was nice, but I could detect no hot Chinese mustard whatsoever. This did not stop me from wolfing down a half sandwich before asking the waitress for some Chinese hot mustard on the side.
I was somewhat disappointed to learn there was no Chinese hot mustard to be found. “Oh well at least I won’t be needing those Tums,” I thought to myself as I doctored the second half of the sandwich up with deli mustard.
My advice: Stick to the classics at this classic institution. If you absolutely must stray from the path of deli dogma, I suggest the DDD. The triple decker a winning combination of pastrami, brisket, and steamed hard salami created in conjunction with Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” Don’t forget to bring your Tums.
Ben’s Best Kosher Deli, 96-40 Queens Blvd., Rego Park, 718- 897-1700