There are a lot of guide on-lines now a days to where to eat. From a global perspective, there is Urbanspoon and Yelp (the later, plagued with some issues). From a local Vancouver perspective, there is Dinehere.ca. And, of course, in almost every city, there is your local food blog, which I am proud to belong; though, my usual caveat is that, despite a lot of emails of people coming with pitchforks demanding my head, I do NOT do reviews. Rather, what I do describe my visit to restaurants and the meal I had. Then, based on that visit, whether if it is a place I would consider coming back in the future. The funny thing is that, given the frequency I blog, there has been few times I have revisited a restaurant! But I am digressing here… The real reason I bring out on-line sites is because there are at times some really wacky trends, specifically, which restaurants are the highest ranked. Now, forget for a moment places like Zagat or Michelin. I am not talking about places for a dining experience written by professionals; rather, I am talking about average people “voting” for the spots they have visited, which brings back to Urbanspoon and Yelp. In the particular case of Urbanspoon, I used it quite frequently as a guide and, while in Tacoma, checked which one was the highest ranked one and that ended up being MSM Deli. A deli as highest ranked? “There ought to be something wrong with that!” Well, in Vancouver we have as the highest ranked a hot dog cart so you draw some wacky comparisons…
Ending up in MSM Deli was actually sort of an accident. See, before I go to each city, I make a list of tentative places to go. For example, in an upcoming trip to Portland, my list will include Pambiche (which Sherman really want me to give it a try), Voodoo Doughnuts (for a lot of reasons) as well as some food carts. In the case of Tacoma, MSM Deli was on the list but partially also in the back burner. What ended up happening was that I received a request to get some local beer. Since I wanted to make sure I would get it on time, I went on late night shopping, going to usual (NA standards, that is) places like Safeway. And behold, the beer was there but the price looked suspiciously high. So, I drove around and remembered MSM Deli. And, woola, the beer was there and cheaper than at Safeway! Did I end up getting the beer? Yes, I did and, at the same time, that gave me an “excuse” to get some good eats there as well. And what they have? As the name will partially suggest: deli goods, namely sandwiches.
I didn’t end up getting it to eat in; rather, I took it back to the hotel. Now, despite it looks like a convenience store, there is an actual sit down eating area in the back. The only thing I wonder is whether one could get some beer and drink it in the back (not that I am encouraging it but, given nobody was watching on the back, you could easily get away with it!). When I was handed down my order – their Mike’s Deluxe sandwich (9″ French roll piled high with roast beef, turkey, ham, swiss & cheddar, lettuce, sprouts, onions, tomatoes, pickles, mustard and mayonnaise), I was surprised at one thing: It was darn heavy for a sandwich! Now, I will use Subway as a reference as I am pretty sure everybody have had tried it: I don’t think even two Subway Meatball Marinara sandwiches will weight the same as this 9″ sandwich! The question is whether it is worth the $7
Unwrapping it revealed this large sub and, for the most part, it didn’t actually look bad. I didn’t noticed until the very end but there was also a pickle. Me not being a fan of pickles, didn’t try it so no comments about it. As for the sandwich itself, I will have to admit that, despite they have some stickers saying they use Hormel products, the rest of the ingredients looked actually quite good.
Granted, pickles might come from a jar but it didn’t have that look of bagged vegetables. So, from that perspective, I will give kudos to them. As for the cheese… Well, it is just cheese and won’t give them a hard time. And the bread… Well, it was a bit generic and will have appreciated some other options (namely, whole wheat) but, hey, given the place, I won’t say much about that!
Biting into the sandwich proved a bit difficult so I started munching sideways and… Well, again, construction-wise was fine; however, there was missing *something*. Now, you could taste the cold meats there but still there was a missing binding element for all of those cold meats. Some… Mayo? Actually, it did have some but I didn’t feel it come through. Mustard? I thought I tasted some but, once again, it didn’t come through.
In the end, I just had about a third of it, mainly because I wasn’t that hungry to begin with (think of it as a late night snack). I am sure that, had I been hungry, I would have eaten just about 2/3s; it would have been unlikely I would have finished it myself. Otherwise, this could have easily been shared by two.
So, does MSM Deli deserve that #1 spot? I do understand why people would go there but I am somewhat skeptical as for #1. Still, I think that, despite it is made of something you can almost make at home, it is a decent sandwich and some minor tweeks and additions will certainly make it “better”. In the meantime, think of my vote being a neutral vote and let popularity run its course.