A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 17, 2016
RPG Sandwich (roast pork on garlic bread)

The Chinese roast pork sandwich on garlic bread (sometimes called “RPG” for short) was invented at Herbie’s Restaurant in Loch Sheldrake, New York, in the 1950s. The sandwich was popular in the mostly Jewish “Borscht Belt,” even though pork is not allowed under the kosher dietary laws of the Jewish religion.  The garlic bread used is similar to those served at pizzerias, and the sandwich is served with small plastic packets of mustard and duck sauce, like those at American Chinese restaurants.

Herbie’s opened a restaurant at 5321 Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn, and the regional sandwich specialty became known in New York City. The Triangle Diner of Liberty, New York, owned and operated by Hymie, Hilda, Jay and Stuart Heller, also was known for its Chinese roast pork sandwich on garlic bread. A June 1964 advertisement in the New York (NY) Post for Herbie’s Restaurant stated:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
So thanks to all the Restaurant Owners for trying to copy our
CHINESE ROAST PORK SANDWICH on Garlic Bread
But as with all things there’s nothing like THE ORIGINAL!



Wikipedia: Loch Sheldrake, New York
Loch Sheldrake is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in the Town of Fallsburg, New York, in Sullivan County, New York. The zip code for Loch Sheldrake is 12759.

The community was originally named Sheldrake Pond after a deep glacially formed pond, which forms the center of town. It is bordered by the hamlet of Hurleyville, the Town of Liberty, the hamlet of Hasbrouck, the hamlet of Divine Corners, and the hamlet of Woodbourne.
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In its heyday as a Catskills Borscht Belt resort it was home to numerous hotels, bungalow colonies, and boarding houses. Some of the best known of these were the Brown’s Hotel, where comedian Jerry Lewis worked; the Evans Hotel; and the Karmel Hotel, now Stagedoor Manor, a renowned performing arts summer camp.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
25 June 1964, New York (NY) Post, pg. 20, col. 1 ad:
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
So thanks to all the Restaurant Owners for trying to copy our
CHINESE ROAST PORK SANDWICH on Garlic Bread
But as with all things there’s nothing like THE ORIGINAL!
Stop in today at
HERBIE’S RESTAURANT
5321 Flatlands Ave. B’klyn
and here’s good news for you vacationers…
HERBIE’S LOCH SHELDRAKE N.Y.
Opens for the season
TODAY—JUNE 25th

Google Books
Borscht Belt Bungalows:
Memoirs Of Catskill Summers

By Irwin Richman
Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press
1998
Pg. 99:
Herbie’s created a sensation by introducing the Chinese Roast Pork on Garlic Bread Sandwich, which was served with a spear of sour pickle.

Google Books
Sullivan County: Borscht Belt
By Irwin Richman
Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing
2001
Pg. 58:
At that time (1950s—ed.), Herbie’s Restaurant was packed with people looking for the restaurant’s famed Chinese roast pork sandwich, made with garlic bread. SImilar to the New York egg cream, the sandwich is a regional specialty.

Chowhound
Pork sandwich Canarsie style? 
Evan B. Druce Jul 6, 2003 01:30 AM
Yep, sounds like diner food… “Chinese Roast Pork,” on Italian garlic bread. God, I love this city…

RE: Evan B. Druce
D Dina Jul 9, 2003 05:24 PM
The sandwich you’re talking about unquestionably came from a long-gone (and very strange) restaurant called Herbie’s International on Flatlands Ave. I’ve had the sandwich in other places - the Kings Plaza Diner included - but nothing has come even close to the masterpiece my friends and I used to refer to as the “HRP” (Herbie’s Roast Pork). Part of the secret, I think, was the garlic bread, which was dripping with garlic butter, even on top. And they wouldn’t have dreamed of serving it (as so many places do these days) with duck sauce from a cellphane packet.

12 August 2005, Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), “Can’t find a NY sandwich? You just make it yourself” by Carey Sweet, pg. S6, cols. 2-3:
Rothschilds to the rescue. It turns out that the sandwich truly is a specialty, even if it’s not one I would have ever come up with on my own. As the Rothschilds told me, it can be found in various forms in rural New York restaurants, specifically David’s favorite haunt, the former Herbie’s in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. Loch Sheldrake is near the Catskill Mountains where David spent his summers as a waiter in the resorts many years ago.

“The specialty of the house was roast pork on garlic bread,” David reminisced. “It was Chinese-style roast pork—you know, with the distinct red edges—on a sub roll that had been smeared with butter and garlic and toasted. The condiment was duck sauce, apricot-based sweet and sour, not to be confused with that pink stuff that we call sweet and sour sauce in Phoenix.”

eGForums
Why Jews Like Chinese Food
Daily Gullet Staff
Posted March 14, 2008
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Chinese Roast Meat on Garlic Bread with Duck Sauce
This is an exquisite example of Jewish crossover food, “fusion food” these days. It was a dish that made first- and second-generation Jews of the 1950s, Jews who no longer abided by the kosher laws, feel like they were truly Americans as well as urbane and sophisticated. Imagine what a scandal it was to observant parents and grandparents, what a delicious act of defiant assimilation it was, to eat Chinese roast pork on Italian garlic bread.

This was invented in the Catskills and brought back to Brooklyn where, today, substituting roasted veal for the trayf meat, the sandwich survives in kosher delicatessens in Brooklyn and Queens. (It is particularly well done at Adelman’s, a delicatessen on King’s Highway and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn.) With pork, it is also a hot item in diners on the South Shore of Long Island, where Jews from Brooklyn and Queens moved decades ago.

By all accounts, the sandwich was created sometime in the mid-1950s at Herbie’s in Loch Sheldrake, New York. It was the most popular Jewish-style deli-restaurant in the area. According to Freddie Roman, the Borscht Belt comic who years later starred in the nostalgia show Catskills on Broadway, Herbie’s was where all the entertainers would gather after their last shows at the hotel nightclubs. “Specifically for that sandwich,” says Freddie. “And everyone else had to eat what the celebrities ate.”

Herbie’s sandwich of Chinese Roast Pork on Italian Garlic Bread was so popular among the summer crowd in “The Mountains,” that it was imitated back in “The City.” I remember when it was introduced at Martin’s and Senior’s, two fabulously successful, middle-class family restaurants on Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Unlikely Words
CHINESE ROAST PORK ON GARLIC BREAD SANDWICH
March 2, 2009
cohenaaron
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COMMENTS
DEBI GOLDNER PENN SAYS:  My family owned Singer’s Restaurant in Liberty NY from 1918 until the late 1970’s. It was a combination Deli/Chinese restaurant and they invented the recipe for the roast pork on garlic bread. People would stand in line around the block on a summer Saturday night to get that sandwich. Also, the celebs would come to our restaurant after their shows at Grossinger’s and other hotels and hang out with my grandfather, Nat Goldner. We had many, many pictures of all he celebs but they were ruined in a flood we had in the early 70’s. If you check the Fans of Singer’s Restaurant Facebook page you will see all of the fans of the famous roast porK!
September 19, 2009 at 11:02 am
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ART GOTTLIEB SAYS:  The triangle Restaurant, near Grossingers hads the best Roast Pork on Garlic Bread.
November 5, 2011 at 9:58 am
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ANDREA ITZKOWITZ M.D. SAYS:  wow… First Herbies and Singers were not the originator not Triangle ..my folks wrote the recipe and started it in early 1960’s at our store in Parksville … Jerry n’ Lils !!! OMG I hate that others have taken credit for their hard work .. Sheesh
June 18, 2015 at 11:09 pm
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ANDREA ITZKOWITZ SAYS:  Singers was a kosher restaurant!!!’ They would have never served pork
June 18, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Chowhound
Chinese roast pork on garlic bread
mdb0610 | Feb 3, 2012 10:21 AM
Many years ago in the Catskills a 2AM treat, (and we had to stand in line) was thinly sliced chinese roast pork, served on a garlic hero. The sandwich was made famous at a restaurant in Loch Sheldrake NY, and then appeared at restaurants all through the metro NY area.

Does anyone know where this sandwich is still being served?
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COMMENTS
robrot Oct 7, 2013 01:13 PM
-) I serve it at home. Remember it from I believe, Herbie’s, in Loch Sheldrake down the road from Brown’s and the Evans hotels. Just buy a large order of thinly sliced roast pork from a Chinese take-out (usually in the appetizer section), buy a prepared ready-to-heat long garlic baguette at the supermarket. You can toss the pork with either/both/none of duck sauce and chinese mustard… Put it all together and enjoy. You’ll be in Loch Sheldrake again eating in the hotel card room.

Facebook—Triangle Diner, Liberty, NY
Linda Marks
March 30, 2015
I graduated from Liberty High in 1958 (just as it was becoming Liberty Central High) along with Jay Heller. Here are two examples of how the Triangle was a big part of my life:
1. When I started driving (before cell phones, I assure you), my mother knew to call the Triangle if she wanted to find me. I was usually there, with many friends, either eating Chinese roast pork on garlic bread sandwiches or, if it was earlier in the day, a scrambled egg on a hard roll. (Oh, those Kaiser rolls. Maybe it was the added butter that made that dish taste so good.)
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Stephen Paul Blank
April 21, 2015
When we were in high school, and allowed to leave for lunch, Stu Heller, Jeff Colton and a few others would drive there for lunch. Remember the roast pork and garlic sandwiches? Remember the prices? I think it was a dollar or so for a hamburger, french fries and a Coke. Or was that the Madison?

Eater—New York
The Swan Song of the RPG Sandwich in the Catskills
Eater’s senior critic goes on the hunt for a fabled roast pork sandwich

by Robert Sietsema Nov 17, 2016, 2:18pm EST
In the early 80s a friend who grew up in Ellenville, on the southeastern edge of the Catskill Mountains, told me a story about a fabled sandwich. “When we were kids, our favorite was the RPG. Those letters stood for ‘roast pork and garlic,’ and it was found at every diner, pizzeria, and Fourth of July picnic. Aside from the buffets at resort hotels like Kutsher’s and The Concord, it was as close as we ever came to having a regional cuisine.” I asked her how her family, who often kept kosher, could eat it, since it featured pork. “Oh, it also had duck sauce on it, which my parents thought made it Chinese, so they would let us,” she replied.
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There on the list of Hot Sandwiches was something called Chinese roast pork. I turned to the bartender and said, “Give me an RPG, please, with fries.” She smiled and said, “You know the old name for it.”
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COMMENTS
freebert
Robert, Court Street Grocers on Laguardia has a sandwich called “Catskill Roast Pork” with roast pork, duck sauce, spicy mustard, on Garlic Bread.

Ivan Ramen also used to have a special Chinese roast pork sandwich that was very similar.
Posted on Nov 17, 2016 | 2:54 PM

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, November 17, 2016 • Permalink