Vancouver's roaming Jewish deli returns after several years

Mensch, a popular pop-up Jewish delicatessen in Vancouver, has returned after nearly four years as a catering operation, offering a full menu of deli and Israeli fare, including Chef Nitzan Cohen's signature pastrami and corned beef by the pound. | Mensch. Jewish Delicatessen/Facebook

It's been nearly three years since Vancouverites have been able to order up chef Nitzan Cohen's delicatessen fare, but the popular itinerant concept is poised for a comeback - albeit with a bit of a different format.

Mensch. Jewish Delicatessen, which is known for its offerings of juicy slow-roasted hand-sliced pastrami sandwiches, beet-cured lox, and deli sides, will start up again Feb. 1 as a catering operation, with food available for pre-order and delivery.

"Having guests for Shabbat dinner? Your kid's Bar Mitzvah coming? Or your in-laws are coming for a Sunday lunch and craving some pastrami and pickles?" suggests Coean on Mensch's social media for occasions fitting his services. 

Cohen introduced Vancouver to his hand-crafted and hand-sliced hot pastrami piled high on fresh rye bread back in early 2016, available to customers as a pop-up, for as few as a couple of nights at a time to longer runs. 

Though Mensch has been quiet since April 2020, Cohen has been busy in Vancouver's culinary scene, serving as head chef for Kafka's Coffee, including launching its line of sandwiches. Mensch re-emerged from its slumber on social media at the end of 2022 to tease its return this year. 

The new catering menu includes Mensch's pastrami and corned beef (both of which will require a two-week advance order due to the lengthy multi-day prep time) by the pound, latkes by the dozen, potato salad, chopped liver, and matzo ball soup, as well as full sour pickles. For something sweet, Cohen will offer kugel and blintzes.

Additionally, Mensch is expanding to offer a menu of Israeli dishes from a category Cohen is calling "A Taste from Jerusalem," including hummus, shakshuka, and labneh (cheese). 

Mensch will also have seasonal dishes for Jewish holidays. 

Delivery is available for Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond, and a $150 minimum order is required. Orders are currently open.

For those not able to order up a feast, take note: Mensch also promises some pop-up events are in the works.