Thursday, October 14, 2010

Philly Cheese Truck Faceoff: South Philly Experience vs Lee's Philly

South Philly Experience and Lee's Philly both put bring their take on the Philly Cheese Steak to LA via their gourmet food trucks. SPE goes the more traditional route, while Lee's brings the Korean BBQ take on the classic.  Apparently a third cheese steak truck, Bera's launched last month, but I have not encountered it yet.

South Philly Experience

The SPE truck launched early last September and has become one of the more popular mobile gourmet food trucks with their offerings of a variety of sandwiches in traditional cheese steak bread, with local Philly brand chips and desserts.

SPE describes their cheese steak as "thinly sliced rib-eye, seasoned and grilled “wit” or “witout” onions jam-packed into a 9” Amoroso roll with your choice of cheese. (Wiz, American, Provolone." Although the menu includes pizza steak and chicken cheese steak among other sandwiches, I stuck with the traditional cheese steak and got it with Wiz.

The roll was soft and the meat was traditional in flavor and you could taste the cheese.  While not quite at the level of a physical restaurant offering, it was a satisfying sandwich that scratched my Philly Cheese Steak itch.

Lee's Philly

Lee's Philly Gogi is a Korean take on the Philly Cheese Steak and launched in February of this year.  When I looked at their menu (below, bottom) it struck me as more of a Korean taco truck looking to find another type of sandwich to put their existing filling in.

I had the Gogi Beef Cheese Steak, to see how their Korean BBQ take on the sandwich would be.  There was hardly any cheese and what cheese there was contributed no taste to the sandwich.  The sign said 3 slices of cheese but that wasn't what I got in my sandwich.  The marinade on the Gogi Beef overwhelmed any other flavors so that was all I tasted.  Overall it was a so so sandwich and a mediocre take on the Philly Cheese Steak.  As Lee's already does Burritos and Tacos, the Philly part of it struck me as more of a gimmick.  It wouldn't surprise me if they got Vietnamese baguettes and added Banh mis to their repertoire.

There was no line to order but it took a full fifteen minutes to get my order, which is a very long time to wait for a sandwich from a truck during lunch time.  In contrast the SPE's sandwich was ready within five minutes, despite coming at peak lunch time.

The Verdict

Overall winner of this faceoff was the SPE, hands down. Their sandwich was tastier, came out quickly and was satisfying. Other trucks do the Korean take on (name the dish) better, so I see no reason to go back to Lee's when Kogi etc is out there.

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