Friday, September 11, 2009

"I Wouldn't Steak my Life on it" OR "The bank denied me for a Provolone."

From a lowly sandwich with disputed origins to becoming the single greatest political king-maker of all local sandwiches, the Cheesesteak has truly lived the "American Sandwich Dream".

It's disputed origins have contributed to vociferous debate akin to: Ali v Frazier, Rutherford Hayes v Samuel Tilden and Dr. Phil v Jeffrey Tambor and by that I refer to Pat v Geno's for the original best cheesesteak.

Since this as of now remains the Great Canadian Sandwich blog I will limit this entry to a review both a D.I.Y attempt (a first here at TGCSB) as well as a review of Reggie's Old Fashioned Sandwiches

D.I.Y Attempt

The logic behind the DIY challenge here was that general conensus there was little to nothing in terms of Cheesesteaks in Toronto. The old king, Chubby Subby across the street from the Masonic Temple on Yonge used to serve up a very tasty variation but since it closed there seems to have been a dearth in Toronto:

We started with a 2 lb Prime Rib Roast. We left the roast partially frozen as the goal is to cut the steak as thinly as possible. The big guys in Philly allegedely use Meat Slicers and semi-frozen slabs. We clearly lack the resources and werewithall of the cheesesteak wunderkinds.

For condiments we went traditional: Wit (carmelized onions) / Provolone.

While Cheese Wiz is considered the textbook cheese, I like the bite of Provolone and the non-petroleum based nature of it helps too.

One of the items where the DIY attempt really took a potential nose-dive was the bread. Virutally all Philly and even New Jersey Hoagie Shops, serve it on a nice fluffy Amoroso Roll. Since we are far outside the geographic area for Amoroso, we decided to go with what the big smoke has and decided on a portugese roll from a local hole-in-the-wall bakery.

Overall for a first attempt, the sandwich turned out great. Unfortunately the portugese bun contributed to a dissapointing bun:content ratio (for those keep track anything more than 60:40 is problematic), Good grease level (but did not completely soak bread as in most authentic Philly's). Next time, I'll try to get the meat even thinner and a softer roll (Current candidate's include Italian Roll from N'ino D'aversa)


Reggie's is the kind of sandwich shop that I started this blog to write about.

With its downtown location, (King St. W & Portland) its 24 hour accessbility and with its extremely lenghty sandwich (a roster including the classic [corned beef, tuna melt], the californian [avocado & egg],) and it's commitment to fresh agreements, this restaurant is in general a great sandwich destination. On my first visit, I decided a great way to gauge their sandwich chops would be to evaluate their cheesesteak as it opened about 3 months after the Great Canadian Cheeseteak Challenge. Had a legitimate cheesesteak truly come to hogtown????

At Reggie's, the Cheesesteak comes with: Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Rowe Farms Sirloin & mozzarella. While I feel a little peeved with the inclusion of mozzarella, the sandwich, simply put, was awesome:

Soft, chewy tender, dripping with cheese and covered with enough au jus to allow a 90 year old durain eater. Steak was cooked perfectly at medium and the onions were deliciously opaque. The bun was soft yet chewy with a bite and definetly featured a much better ratio then my DIY attempt.

All in all Reggie's Merits a 9.5/10

Properly cook steaked
Great condiment,meat ratio
Good Bun
24 hrs

Mozzarella instead of more traditional provolone.

Tables of Cheesesteak References:
The Philadelphia Inquirer Cheesesteak Hub
Chowhound Toronto Discussion

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Upon entering the Liohe night market in Kaohsiung city I was instantly hit with the many different smells and noises that originate from the outdoor food stands that line either side of the streets. In Taiwan eating out is a social event that if done correctly can be cheap and rewarding. However, my main purpose for being in the night market was not to wander from stall to stall sampling various chicken parts or snake parts. I was there to review a traditional Taiwanese dish called coffin toast.

Coffin toast originated in Tainan; the old capital of Taiwan. Simply put it is almost identical to chicken pot pie. The only thing that separates it from chicken pot pie is that it is nestled into a perfectly cooked, golden brown piece of toast. The name coffin toast describes how the toast is cut and filled and made to look like a coffin. Many different varieties of coffin toast seem to exist, some are a little more risky than others. However, the most popular form comes with your basic chicken, carrot, corn, and white goo filling and your oil fried toast exterior.

My first impression of this sandwich/pot pie is that the toast and filling compliment each other very well. Although both are savory, there is a slight sweetness that comes from the carrots. The chicken has been cooked well and the shop owner is not shy about giving you a good portion. The 50 nt (roughly $2 Canadian) price is also reasonable. For another few dollars you can get some fish ball soup to help wash it down, although I would avoid this.

Overall, my experience with coffin toast has been a good one and it is a sandwich that I would seriously recommend to anyone. If you like toast and chicken pot pie and have always fantasized about the two coming together in your mouth... I would definitely say that this is the sandwich for you.