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The Olajuwon at Kahn's Deli Is A Slam Dunk

Sandwich refuses to be halved, so protein heavy is the interior.
Sandwich refuses to be halved, so protein heavy is the interior.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

Although Kahn's Delicatessen has been serving sizable "real sandwiches" to the Houston community since 1945, the restaurant is often overlooked in favor of powerhouse delis such as Kenny & Ziggy's. H-towners should spread the love to Kahn's, which also knows a thing or two about what to put between two slices of bread.

Among its old-school sandwich offerings is the "Olajuwon," a true submarine of a sandwich containing corned beef, knockwurst, swiss and cheddar cheeses, sauerkraut and dressed with spicy mustard and housemade Russian dressing. The Olajuwon is so named, one assumes, for the famous former Rockets star, and given that it boasts a full pound of meat (thereby making it appropriate fuel for 6'10" center), its name is fitting. Except, however, if the knockwurst used is made with pork, verboten for devout Muslims such as Olajuwon. Anyhoo.

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Side of "Alfred's Homemade Russian Dressing." Yes, it's pink. So what?
Side of "Alfred's Homemade Russian Dressing." Yes, it's pink. So what?
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

If you visit Kahn's during lunch hours, there's likely to be somewhat of a line, but business slows around 5 p.m., which means minimal wait for your super sandwich. And, if you are a female somewhat diminutive in stature, the person who takes your order is also likely to remind you that the sandwich you've requested is very big. #thingsyouwouldneversaytoaman

The Olajuwon arrived wrapped in foil and even felt heavy upon acceptance with one hand. Attempts at home to slice the sandwich in half (not to share, mind you, but lessen the weight burden during consumption) were quickly foiled by the many layers of thick corned beef. No matter. With so many meats, sauces, cheeses, not to mention a large scoop of fermented cabbage, this sandwich demands a lap napkin and certainly deserves a bib.

Even the kittens can't stay away.
Even the kittens can't stay away.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

Kahn's corned beef is well-spiced and not too salty with a softish texture that facilitates chewing large mouthfuls. Greasier, though not necessarily in a bad way, are the slivers of sausage interspersed between the corned beef. Their tautness gives rise to a pleasant, savory sort of snap when you nosh them, which complements the mushier, tarter layer of sauerkraut.

Somewhat lost in it all is the swiss cheese, too overwhelmed by the disproportionate amount of meat. Thanks to an ample schmear of spicy mustard, hot enough to draw a tear to the eye, the cheddar shines through in flavor.

But the dominant sauce, as it should be, is the Russian dressing. Its color is more pepto-bismal pink than the orange sherbet hue of supermarket varieties, a difference that lends credence to its homemade ("Alfred's") label because it suggests the involvement of a scratch fresh tomato paste rather than cheap ketchup.

All these incredibly layers don't come cheap, for the Olajuwon will set you back around $16 (tax included). But that price is comparable to that charged by other delis in town for similar sized sandwiches, and definitely cheaper than an NBA playoffs ticket.

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Kahn's Delicatessen

2429 Rice Blvd.
Houston, TX 77005

713-529-2891

www.kahnsdeli.com


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