Friday, Sep 21, 2018
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Plates & People gets an unexpected comfort at Al Smith's Place

Homestyle staple serves pastrami in a Far East package

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    Pete Hui, owner of Al Smith's Place, with his Pastrami Rolls.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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    A close-up of the spring rolls served with Thousand Island dressing.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Pete Hui emigrated from Hong Kong. But there’s only one menu item at homestyle cooking favorite Al Smith’s Place that might tip you off to that. 

Pastrami rolls. 

“People come back for that homestyle cooking and we try to create that homestyle atmosphere,” said Hui, remaining quite humble about his little appetizer. 

It’s like a genius food hack that if you pulled out at a party, everybody would ‘ooo’ and then ask for the recipe.

Hunks of pastrami, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut wrapped and fried in a spring roll, then dipped in Thousand Island dressing is a deceptively familiar and satisfying flavor. It’s not a classic in the genre of comfort food, but it’s not out of place at Al Smith’s by any means.

For those wondering, yes, there was an Al Smith. Mr. Alan Smith ran the family friendly restaurant on Lewis Avenue for years before it closed and moved to its current Executive Parkway digs.

Since Hui took over years ago, he has left a goodly amount of the menu completely untouched. Gravy dinners, stews, and homemade pies are not to be missed — and probably can’t be, rotating endlessly in a hyper-lit display case they look as a good as a cartoon. 

(Pete says to try the lemon meringue, but he was just as fond of the banana cream.) 

So, it might be easy to look past something like the pastrami rolls thinking you are looking for something else. 

But this is comfort food you’ll love. We just haven’t had enough time to be comforted by it yet. 

VIDEO: Pete Hui and his Pastrami Rolls

For more information, visit Al Smith’s Place.

Contact Phillip Kaplan at, and follow on Twitter @filkap; Andy Morrison may be contacted at


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