Hamburger dominates Filipino palates in the sandwich category. But there are days when one simply gets tired of having the same stuff for lunch or snack. Today’s that day for me. So instead of gobbling up another cheeseburger from the café downstairs, I decided to hunt for another bread-based handheld food worthy for lunch. Luckily, I didn’t have to look far. As if by fate, I found an authentic Philly cheesesteak joint not two blocks from where I work.
The Cheesesteak Shop used to be in Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road). Now, it sits along the hidden end of Amorsolo Street in Makati, right by the wayside of the skyway exit ramp and directly facing the once prestigious Mile Long Building. My first impression of the place is that the floor area was not optimally designed. I think there are only five or six dining couches, while a very large space was allocated for the kitchen and cashier areas. But it’s not my place to chew over the floor plan. I’m here to eat and eat I shall.
Cheesesteak traces its roots back to Philadelphia, hence it’s officially called Philadelphia Cheesesteak or Philly Cheesesteak for short. It’s basically made from thin slices of beef that are quickly fried and browned on a griddle. Typically, ribeye or top round steak cuts are used, hence authentic cheesesteak can often be a bit more expensive than even a Grade-A hamburger. But I’m sure other beef cuts – even chicken – can be used. Apart from the choice meat, caramelized onion is added and American cheese (or Cheez Whiz) is allowed to melt over the beef. The meat filling is then customarily served on a roll of soft French or Italian bread cut on one side just like a hotdog bun. This presentation classifies the cheesesteak into a hoagie, also referred to as a sub, torpedo, or hero sandwich.
A Taste of Authentic Cheesesteak
The Cheesesteak Shop in Makati is a franchise from the same California-based cheesesteak company that has been in the business since 1982. So, the place must really be serving authentic Philly steak and cheese sandwich. But just like in puddings, the proof of the hoagie is in the eating. I decided to get the classic cheesesteak. A 7-inch hoagie just to try it. While waiting for my sandwich, I notice that the place is packed with several board games that customers can use.
In less than 5 minutes, my lunch is served. At first look, it’s a very simple sandwich. But the rich brown color of the beef in the middle is, to me, like a hypnotic pendulum that mesmerizes me into opening my mouth and taking a big bite off my sandwich. Within seconds, my mind is filled with a full range of beefy goodness and each chomp brings the mild flavor of the melted cheese to explode in my mouth. Adding streaks of mayo and ketchup turns my hoagie into a fastfood connoisseur’s daydream. I can’t help but think that, indeed, this can only be the taste of a real Philly cheesesteak.
The Cheesesteak Shop also offers mean nacho cheesesteak, garlic fries, twister fries, onion rings, fresh salads, and vegetarian sandwiches. Looking forward, my diet will truly be a mess now.
The CheeseSteak Shop is located at G/F Philsteel Tower, 140 Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City.