A few Saturdays ago I visited the Little Jewel of New Orleans, a relatively new Southern-inspired deli oddly situated in an off-the-beaten-path pocket of downtown Los Angeles’ Chinatown district. After sitting through Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest (and sadly underwhelming) two-plus-hour film “Inherent Vice,” I made the right move trying out this gem, pun intended.
Walking in, we were immediately greeted by the gracious proprietor, who welcomed us to his spot and directed us towards the register to order our picks of Southern goodness. Though the menu is vast, with nearly twenty Po’Boy varieties along with other types of sandwiches, platters, and fried bites, I landed on a Muffuletta and the Crescent City Fried Shrimp Po-Boy.
The Muffuletta is served on a sesame seed Leidenheimer loaf that is complimented by a house-made olive salad and the rest of the traditional ingredients one might usually find this Southern staple. And although their Muffuletta is exceptional for this part of the country, the Po’Boy was out of this world. Perfectly deep-fried shrimp seasoned with Tony Chachere’s famous Creole spice mix and Crystal Hot Sauce, served on a soft, doughy French loaf with crispy dill pickles, cabbage, and a generous slathering of mayo. Each bite was a combination of the crispy, fresh (and plentiful) shrimp meat with just the right amount of heat and sweet to balance it out. I’m still salivating at the thought of it. To compliment the sandwiches, I introduced myself to Zapp’s potato chips. Both the Cajun Dill Gator Tators and the famous Voodoo flavor are excellent. Naturally, I wolfed nearly both bags, and washed them down with a bottle of Fentiman’s Ginger Beer.
Equally interesting is the atmosphere, which emulates an authentic NOLA bodega, serving not only as a deli, but also a market for local folks who don’t want to stand in long lines at their run-of-the-mill grocery store. They stock Louisiana imports ranging from Cafe du Monde coffee to Bayou Magic jambalaya mix. Needless to say, I loved the experience and plan to go back as soon as possible to do a little shopping and dive into their Cochon de Lait Po’Boy.
Tony Sabistina lives in Los Angeles and works in television development.