Jou Jou Café Redeems the Egg Salad Sandwich
Egg Salad does not get a whole lot of love here on Midtown Lunch. In fact, there’s little about this old lunchtime workhorse on the site beyond this post on the forum sending those seeking egg salad to Ess-a-Bagel or Eisenberg’s. And I can understand why. Bad egg salad is truly awful, and most egg salad out there is bad egg salad. I love egg salad that I’ve made myself when I can keep the mayonnaise level under control, but I almost never order it when I’m eating out.
Unless there’s a really good reason to, and the relatively new Jou Jou Café at Nassau St. and Maiden Lane offers up just such a reason: Their egg salad is not just any egg salad. It’s Israeli egg salad.
Jou Jou Café first appeared in this corner space a few months ago and quickly grabbed my interest. It’s a tiny place selling pre-made sandwiches, soup, coffee, etc., so I probably would have totally ignored it except that all of the food on sale looked really good somehow. The bread all looked fresh, each sandwich had a generous pile of ingredients on it, and a quick look over the menu revealed a nice variety of hot and cold sandwich options that went well beyond just turkey and swiss.
On my first visit, I wound up with a Cuban sandwich, which I unfortunately didn’t get to photograph. It was good, but not great. Definitely not as good as Sophie’s. Its biggest failing is the pickles, which are cornichons (really?) and not nearly plentiful enough. Still not a bad lunch and, for $6.50, not a bad deal.
But the Cuban was good enough to lure me back for a second try, and boy am I glad it did because otherwise I would never have found my new Israeli best friend. Served on a panini, the Israeli egg salad contains not only your usual eggs and mayo — though not too much of the latter — but also za’atar (a sesame seed and herb spread), harissa (a garlicky hot sauce), and black olives. It’s got swiss cheese on top and makes a quick visit to the panini press before being served.
At $5,50, it’s eggy, salty, and spicy in just the perfect way. I would as happily eat it for breakfast as for lunch. I would happily eat it at any time in fact. It really is just that good. Sitting here writing about it makes me want to go get one. And I just might do it.
I was skeptical of the cheese at first. I like cheese on your standard egg sandwich, but not so much with egg salad. But here it really works, and it gave me the opportunity to take this little time lapse series:
Now that’s good eatin’.
This downtown Jou Jou appears to be the second outpost of a place in Washington Heights, and I’m happy to have them. My experiences with deli sandwiches down here has been overwhelmingly negative, so even if the rest of the offerings here are only as good as the Cuban, I’ll still be going back. And if they have one or two more options as transcendent as the Israeli egg salad, I’ll be elated.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy a sandwich, or — if they’re out — a plane ticket to Haifa.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Nice little place with good little sandwiches.
- Pre-made sandwiches = very fast service.
- The Israeli egg salad is a must-try.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Egg salad, regardless of nationality, is just not for me.
- The sandwiches are reasonably priced, but lots of them are not that big.
- It’s tiny and there’s nowhere to sit except for two or three stools.
- I don’t care if it’s this place, Pret a Manger, or a David Chang sandwich truck, I don’t eat pre-made sandwiches.
Jou Jou Café, 24 Maiden Lane (at Nassau St.), (212) 619-1089