Stop the presses, there’s a new sandwich joint in town! Yes, there are many places strewn around the hungry nation that can fulfil our sandwich cravings, but this is the first of its kind in Kuwait, and satiates only a specific taste that those of us who have spent lots of time in urban North America pine for: the classic delicatessen taste.
When we first heard that The Untitled Deli was opening, we were super intrigued. Most of us had lived abroad for a while, and knew of old school delicatessen sandwiches consisting of Russian dressing, salt beef, smoked meat, rare roast and rye bread with hot mustard very well. And of course, you can’t have any of that without a huge dill pickle and a cherry coke, right?
So after looking into The Untitled Deli’s prospects, we were overjoyed to know that partners Nima Algooneh and Muneer Hanbali were also passionate about the build, standard and authenticity of meaty deli sandwiches. This led them to enforce their belief system onto the enthusiastic tummies of Kuwait, teaching them a thing or two about proper meat-filled sandwiches.
This excited us further, and after many failed attempts of scheduling amongst ourselves, we finally managed to group together as a hungry bazaar team and made our way to Pearl Marzouq, to sample The Untitled Deli’s offerings well into their soft-open phase and just days before their launch.
The Untitled Deli is easy to spot in Pearl Marzouq’s maze-like complex. It’s along the communal courtyard nearby a few other establishments. We walk in, and the space is small, yet extremely welcoming – perhaps due to the fact that we’re familiar with the owners and a few of our fellow diners. After saying our respective hellos and delivering well wishes, we take a moment to indulge in the classic, pristine interior design set to mimic a quintessential New York style deli. There’s a counter where you can see the meat carvers, servers and sandwich builders dancing around jovially to 1940s jazz playing in the background, expertly carving freshly brined, cooked and smoked meat to perfection, and gaily calling out names of sandwiches while sliding them onto the counter on plates heaped with bread and meats alongside portions of potato salad, coleslaw, and the essential pickle. Coupled with steam wafting from the authentic range of meat cookery, (a steamer, a smoker et al), and the mouthwatering aroma of quality beef, it is truly every carnivorous being’s dream come true.
Putting in our orders would’ve been difficult if we hadn’t been sent with a recommended list of sandwiches to try. The menu, wall mounted with a list of sandwiches to choose from ranging from pastrami, roast beef, salt beef and ONE vegetarian option (but really, that’s just being kind, veggies), was hardly overwhelming, but definitely intriguing. However, we were requested by Muneer to try out the Salty Pete, a Reuben Hood, the Mountain, and the Rachel. Nima, however, insisted that we bump the Reuben Hood in favor of the Roast, a sandwich made from curated slices of real, medium rare roast beef that he himself was extremely proud of. Alright, let’s go for it!
Our sandwiches make their way to the counter one by one, and we decide to take on a “bite, bite, pass” method for us to really enjoy the experience. We start off with a Salty Pete: piles of salt beef topped with hot English mustard and pickles, wedged between a locally sourced, soft and accommodating bagel. At first bite, this sandwich is overwhelming – but once you get past the initial mountain of beef and hit the part with the pickle, that’s when the taste floods in! This salt beef is just asking to be paired with a pickle, guys. For even more fabulous results, alternate with a bite of the dill that comes with every sandwich, alongside your choice of chips, potato salad or coleslaw.
Next up, Nima’s recommendation: the Roast: that praised rare roast beef paired with Swiss cheese and Mesopotamian red pepper Ajvar paste on pillow-soft sourdough bread. This sandwich brought automatic smiles to our faces, and we were automatically so glad that we made the last minute switch. In fact, this sandwich was so good, “bite, bite, pass” was quickly abandoned and we were slightly-less-than fighting over its remnants.
But we couldn’t get too full on the Roast, because it was Rachel time! The Rachel, traditionally a sister to the classic Reuben sandwich, was constructed of pastrami, Swiss cheese, coleslaw (rather than sauerkraut) and Russian dressing on rye bread. Another winner in our books, especially since the in-house-made coleslaw at Untitled is deliciously light on mayonnaise and lemony. It only added to each satisfying bite the sandwich offered.
And last but not least, we ventured onto MY personal favorite, the Mountain. Wow. This one was special. This intricate baby seemed to bring a nice combination of so many elements that not only make sandwiches good, but that make Untitled’s sandwiches stellar: Medium rare roast beef, swiss cheese, rocket, house-pickled red onion, horseradish mayo all on that soft, soft SOURDOUGH ROLL. Not only did it deliver an electric taste, but this sandwich had a much softer bite to it. Don’t get me wrong, all the others were amazing, but their overwhelming mounds of meat could potentially slide out and land on your lap without warning – but not the Mountain! Everything was so nicely compact and risk free. Definitely a winner if you’re dining in, and not in the safety of your living room couch in front of Netflix.
Needless to say, we were stuffed after our sandwich adventure. That of course, didn’t stop us from ordering more sandwiches to take home to our loved ones in order to share the experience. Right now, it’s only take-away and dine-in, including the option to take home grams of freshly carved meats of your choice they have on offer to add to your at-home deli meats stash. If you do opt to takeaway a sandwich, expect Nima and Muneer to butt in and curate the whole thing in order to guarantee quality. It must’ve worked, because it was reported back to me later that the “recommended-to-press-at-home” Roast was just as good three hours after its creation, and that the Mountain made for an excellent midnight meal.
Update: The Untitled Deli is located at the Pearl Marzouq complex next to The Scientific Center . Follow The Untitled Deli on Instagram @theuntitleddeli, and check out their website at www.theuntitleddeli.com