About a year and a half ago, I bragged about having crafted the best sandwich in the world. I made the sandwich for my dad yesterday and he allowed that it was, in fact, a righteous sandwich, but he didn’t think it was better than his more than forty-year-old memory of a sandwich he ate during his stint as a folk singer in the Catskills. Dad described a Chinese/Italian/American restaurant that served a sandwich of Chinese roast pork on Italian garlic bread. I have to admit, that does sound damn good.
And what do you know? It exists!
By all accounts, the sandwich was created sometime in the mid-1950s at Herbie’s in Loch Sheldrake, New York. It was the most popular Jewish-style deli-restaurant in the area. According to Freddie Roman, the Borscht Belt comic who years later starred in the nostalgia show Catskills on Broadway, Herbie’s was where all the entertainers would gather after their last shows at the hotel nightclubs. “Specifically for that sandwich,” says Freddie. “And everyone else had to eat what the celebrities ate.”
Herbie’s sandwich of Chinese Roast Pork on Italian Garlic Bread was so popular among the summer crowd in “The Mountains,” that it was imitated back in “The City.” I remember when it was introduced at Martin’s and Senior’s, two fabulously successful, middle-class family restaurants on Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
In just a few years, it seemed Chinese roast pork on garlic bread became so popular in the southern tier of Brooklyn communities — from Canarsie through Mill Basin to Bay Ridge — that every diner and coffee shop made it. The sandwich even made it to Manhattan in the 1960s, at a place called The Flick, an ice cream parlor and casual restaurant near the then-new movie houses on Third Avenue.
Count my dad as one of the “celebrities,” I guess. There’s even (sort of) a recipe at the link!
Anyone else ever tried this? Any other greatest sandwich nominees?