Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bad Ass Burgers Of Brotherly Love

Hello Readers!

How have your holidays been treating you?

Have you been exploring local dispensaries of sandwiches?

While home recently in Philadelphia, I was able to try a few new places that came with high recommendations.

Bobby's Burger Palace is a new burger joint in University City, owned by renowned chef, Bobby Flay.

I have to admit, that the first time I heard of Bobby Flay, I was not a fan. He had just taken on my favorite Iron Chef (Morimoto!), and in celebration at the end of their match, he stood on the countertop of Kitchen Stadium, something that was played up as an insult to the show, and his incredibly talented opponent.

The years passed though and I learned more of Bobby's style through Iron Chef America and Throwdown (definitely worth watching). And so when it came time to visit Bobby's Burger Palace, I was definitely game.

Each Burger is named after a different city, each with its own local style showing through. I decided on the Napa Valley burger since the addition of a goat cheese spread piqued my taste buds.

This burger was delicious. The meat was cooked exactly to my liking. Just as a note for you all dear Readers, medium at BBP is pink throughout. While this really is the best way to enjoy a superior burger, I know some people like their meat not so close to living.

Full of flavor, juicy, tender, and downright beautiful to look at, the meat was perfectly cooked and was so good that I ate this sandwich a lot faster than expected.

The goat cheese spread was akin to the consistency of a sour cream, but ten times as delicious. It still had that pungent dry taste that goat cheese is known for, and was a great addition with the fresh watercress and the heart crunch of the potato chips.

The bun was so soft, golden, and buttery, it practically melted away in my mouth with every bite. This is another reason getting the sandwich "crunchified" by adding chips is a bonus: it adds a different texture and substance to the mix.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was equally as good. A retro cafeteria style restaurant with pea-soup colored walls, and long tables with slide up chairs, it just oozed cool.

You add in a decidedly amazing sandwich, and you have a restaurant that is a can't miss for locals and visitors alike.

Napa Valley Burger (Crunchified)
**** 1/2 Stars
Bobby's Burger Palace
3925 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cold Hands And A Warm Sandwich

Hello again, dear Readers!

I have traveled many miles back east in time for the holidays, and while I enjoy the season here in the freezing cold, I figured I would find some amazing sandwiches on the other side of the country.

The work of a true sandwichologist never ends.

This week, in my trek East, I stopped in State College, PA...home of THE Penn State.

I had to throw a bit of a plug in there, didn't I?

Settling in at local favorite, The Deli Restaurant, I looked through their menu, deciding which would be the first sandwich I reviewed back east. Every option on the menu sounded delicious, but one stood out the most to me: The Pastrami Reuben.

Yes, I know. I review these types of sandwiches a lot. But there's a reason, well two: 1.) they're my favorite and 2.) when made properly, they can be phenomenal.

This was hands down, the best pastrami reuben I have had since beginning this blog. I don't have a single complaint about it.

It's really your standard reuben, with sauerkraut, melted swiss cheese and rye bread, but instead of corned beef, pastrami takes center stage.

The pastrami was was a beautiful color of dark read with black edges. It tasted sweet and savory at the same time. Still warm from the kitchen, it practically fell apart in my mouth.

The sauerkraut had its usual pungent aroma and matched well with the smoky swiss cheese. But one of the most impressive aspects of this sandwich was the bread.

Your typical toasted rye bread for a reuben, except it did something not so typical.

It didn't fall apart.

It was a double decker sandwich, with toasted rye in the middle, and even that bread was able to handle the weight of these three ingredients without disintegrating or even becoming mushy. I was impressed, and this most of all ranks this sandwich near the top. Too many times my Reuben experience leaves me picking up pieces near the end because the bread has moved on to sandwich heaven. But not this time.

It was delicious, plain and simple. The person who made this deserves a hearty handshake.

So the next time you're heading to Penn State, or traveling across the beautiful state of Pennsylvania, make sure you stop in at the Deli Restaurant and order the Pastrami Reuben.

You will not be disappointed.

Pastrami Reuben
**** 1/2 Stars
113 Heister Street
State College, PA

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

8 Ounces of Heaven

Welcome back Sandwichphiles!

I have been taking a number of sandwich excursions over the past few months, and even with this feat, I am still up to my neck in recommendations. Regardless, please keep the suggestions flowing in!

Out of those suggestions, one of the most highly recommended places has been 8oz Burger Bar in Los Angeles.

With a name like that, how can you turn it down?

For my first visit to 8oz Burger Bar, I had the delicious Short Rib Grilled Cheese, and this time at least real ribs were used to make this sandwich (refer to last week's blog on the McRib). Even though the burger selection seems phenomenal, how could I turn down the promise of short ribs on a sandwich?

The ribs are marinated and then slow roasted until they practically fall of the bone. They are then roughly chopped and piled high upon this sandwich. Tender, fully flavored, and delicious, you'd wish there were more on this sandwich, even though it seems like there is enough rib meat on here to feed a full summer bbq.

Onion marmalade and Bel Paese cheese are mixed nicely together with the ribs. The onion marmalade provides a slight sweet flavor to complement the spice marinated ribs.

The cheese on this sandwich was one I had never tried before. Bel Paese is a semi-soft Italian cheese that has a light buttery flavor. It melts very well and is sometimes used as a substitute for mozzerella. So if you've tried mozzerella you'll have a good ideas as to how this Bel Paese fits with this sandwich. No other cheese really would have worked as well with this sandwich. It had the an excellent light flavor that didn't take away from the delicious short ribs.

After eating, one question popped into my mind: Was this in fact a grilled cheese?

I've discussed this numerous times before with people about whether or not adding ingredients to a grilled cheese will still technically make it a grilled cheese.

So I offer this to you: If the cheese is the main ingredient to the sandwich, then yes it is a grilled cheese (e.g. adding a slice of avocado to the grilled cheese sandwich). In the case of this sandwich though, the short ribs would be the dominant ingredient and hence should be considered a "melt" even though the cheese is plentiful.

Regardless, it is an excellent sandwich and you should either give 8oz Burger Bar a try, or find a similar sandwich in your area to compare.

Lastly, before I head out onto the hunt for next week's sandwich, a note for all of you East Coast Readers! I will be visiting Philadelphia and Washington DC for the holidays and will be looking for numerous places to sample sandwiches there. Please leave a comment with your suggestions so that I have a plethora of options while visiting.

Until next week readers, happy sandwiching!

**** Stars
Short Rib Grilled Cheese
8oz. Burger Bar
7661 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Day I Caught A Unicorn

Welcome back dear readers of DANGER!

Have you had enough time to digest last week's offering?

Because this week we will tackle a cult favorite sandwich, and a personal favorite of mine: The McRib.

Ah, the McRib.

For the longest time, the mythical sandwich was only offered for short periods of time, and sometimes only in select markets. But after the last appearance, McDonalds has decided to make it a full fledged, official member of its menu.

But, you've seen this before right? A wild and crazy sandwich offered by a fast food chain (The Double D-A-M-N 5/26/2010) that has some sort of cult following, whether real or imaginary. But the question again becomes: is it any good?

I've been one of the people on the McRib sandwich since I first tasted it back in the early 2000s. I'd quickly jump out ot a McDonalds to get one whenever it was released (it was college, okay?). And my love for it, and it's limited availablity led me to giving this pork-hybrid patty the nickname 'Unicorn Meat".

Probably also because I didn't really want to know what it was made of, and Unicorn meat was surprisingly less disgusting than what it was more than likely made of.

But is the McRib something that I would still enjoy?

For those of you who have never seen the actual sandwich, the patty has been molded into a rib rack shape, deep fried, and covered in BBQ sauce.

It honestly looks like something that should not exist.

And yet it does.

I have seen all of the new commercials, advertising a tangy BBQ experience with fresh onions and pickles. It got me excited because the one fast food sandwich I always remember enjoying had returned, and this time for good.

Sadly, the sandwich no longer lived up to my astronomical expectations, for a number of reasons.

One, the patty was bland. One of the most bland things I have ever tasted. No tangy BBQ flavor, no flavor at all actually.

I mean, how do you fry something and not have at least a "fried" flavor?

Secondly, the onions were raw and chopped, as if they should have been grilled, but someone forgot to do that part (which may in fact be the case).

The roll was the only positive thing here, and even that was a stretch. Light and fluffy, it may be the only thing that even offered a semblance of flavor.

So what happened between my last McRib experience and my last one? Had my taste buds changed for the better? Had it never tasted good to begin with? Or had McDonalds simply dropped the ball and offered a less than sub-par experience.

Either way, this is a sandwich you can skip without worry.

McRib Sandwich
* Star
If I have to tell you where to get this, there is something wrong.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Diner I Can Call 'Home'

Greetings Followers of Danger!

Did you have a most excellent Thanksgiving Holiday?

Did you enjoy post-holiday leftover sandwiches like I did?

Well this week, it's back to the grinder and tackling another sample of one of my favorites.

If you haven't noticed already, people in Los Angeles love pastrami sandwiches. I mean, absolutely adore. You can get one at practically any restaurant you go to.

Granted, this does not mean that they are all good.

And that's where I come into play, I will continue to sort out the delicious from the disappointing for you, and this week's entry is a a definite nod to the former.

I've passed Art's Deli on in Studio City numerous times as I work nearby at CBS Studios, but I had never gone in even though I had always heard it was a great place to eat at, and somewhat slightly better than Jerry's Famous Deli down the street on Ventura Blvd.

From the retro stylings and bright neon exterior, to the 1950's style cafeteria look inside, Art's had me at first look on atmosphere alone. This was a style I could get used to.

This place had the look that said "we make a killer Pastrami" and so my internal Sandwich Radar (...Sandar?) urged me to order it.

When it arrived I was hit in the face with a delicious smelling sandwich. There wasn't much competition for my nasal attention in this place when I was there, but still it was noticeable.

The rye bread was lightly crisped and held up over time with eating. The problem with a properly made Pastrami is that the bread can't always hold everything together until the end. Sometimes, the cheese and sauerkraut can make the bread weak, mushy, and unusable by the end. Not the case here. It held the test of time, and was delicious.

The pastrami was perfectly cooked. It fell apart with every bite, and was full of that spiced flavor. The problem with a pastrami sandwich is the cooking time. Sometimes the meat isn't fully done (or it could be a lower quality) and you're left with meat that is still full of fat, making it too tough or chewy.

The sauerkraut and cheese blended very well together and didn't weaken the bread, much to my relief. For those not keen to sauerkraut though, you may be turned off by this pastrami sandwich specifically because it is absolutely loaded. It seemed to take up more space on the sandwich than the meat. Even with this though, the taste didn't overpower or conceal the pastrami.

My first experience with Art's was definitely a positive one. The atmosphere brought me back to late nights in diners of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, while the sandwich brought me back to the experience of the best pastrami sandwiches I've had in the past.

So that's it for this week, dear readers. But before I go, what bugs you the most about pastrami sandwiches (if you even eat meat)? I'm curious if the downfalls of pastrami sandwiches is universal.

Until we meat again, dear readers!


**** Stars
Art's Delicatessen
12224 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nom Nom Nom

Welcome back Seekers of DANGER!

The time we spend apart not discussing sandwiches feels like an eternity!

And here we are again! Wednesday and more sandwiches for our pleasure.

This time around, I visited the Nom Nom Truck, which serves Vietnamese food, specifically the Banh Mi Sandwich.

If you've been reading for awhile, you may remember that I trekked far from the Valley out to Alhambra to sample one of these delicacies (A Five Freeway Adventure, 9/8/10).

But now, I find that I can have those sandwiches closer to me, and on wheels?

Sign me up.

Waiting in line outside of my work (Nom Nom Truck is very popular in LA), I decided I would get the same Banh Mi I ordered before, in order to compare the sandwiches. Receiving my sandwich, I quickly opened it to sample the goodness.

I was greeted with a flaked french roll. Perfectly baked, light and fluffy on the inside, it is such a great choice for this sandwich, and this roll shined through with excellence.

The pork was subtly sweet and very flavorful. It was very delicious, and my only problem with the shredded pork is that a few bites were a little more chewy than is necessary. Maybe cooking for a longer period would reduce the fat content a bit more and allow the meat to fall apart easier, but as it stands, is ot as good as the pork from Banh Mi My-Tho.

The part of the sandwich that I was most disappointed with was the salad on the sandwich. Carrots, lettuce, onions and cucumber, the vegetable I missed the most was the sliced jalapenos.

As I discussed before with my last Banh Mi, the jalapenos had their spicy parts removed, leaving a smoky, mildly spicy flavor behind instead of piercing heat. This flavor is a great contrast to the sweet pork, but sadly was missing here.

The cucumbers on the other had added a great refreshing flavor to the sandwich. And while I didn't enjoy them as much as I would have jalapenos, they were a great choice to partner with the pork.

The competition between Nom Nom and Banh Mi My-Tho was stiff, but in the end I believe Banh Mi My-Tho has the better sandwich.

And so you may be sitting there at work, or at home, dear Reader and imagining yourself sampling one of these delicious sandwiches.

And I ask, why haven't you?

Google Banh Mi in your area and head to a local place to order one today for lunch.

Go ahead. I'll wait for you.

Until next week...D-A-N-G-E-R!

Pork Banh Mi Sandwich
**** Stars
Nom Nom Truck
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And The Drum Roll, Please...

Dearest of all Readers. Yes, you.

Today's entry will not be the usual sandwich review to stimulate your tastebuds.

No, today's entry is to announce something very special.

I've been mentioning our new mascot for the last two weeks, and I am very pleased to introduce him to you now.

He's equally delicious and badass. He tastes like harmless Pastrami, but could take you down with Clint Eastwood style fury.


Many thanks to reader Charlene Cowler for her numerous great designs. It was very hard to whittle them down to this one, and I hope you are all pleased with the decision.

Because very soon, I will be having promotional giveaways of buttons, business cards, and even t-shirts. So stay tuned to find out how to earn some DANGERous Swag.

But for now, let's take some suggestions on names for our new mascot. Leave one in the comments section.

Until next week, Readers, when i'll be back with another exciting Sandwich Review.

Tell your tastebuds I said hello.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fun Times in San Diego (Pt. 2)

Another day, Another Sandwich in San Diego ladies and gentlemen of DANGER.

This time, my adventures took me to a corner bakery in Ocean Beach: Charlie's Best Bread. A little shop on a street corner with a very small town square feel. I liked the atmosphere of the neighborhood, but would this highly recommended shop make waves with me this week?

Walking into the shop, I was overwhelmed by the smell of bread. Every bit of bread used in this place was freshly baked that day.

After spending a significant amount of time narrowing down to one sandwich from a seemingly endless list of deliciousness, I settled on the pastrami sandwich.

Ah the pastrami sandwich. My friend, and sometimes my biggest letdown.

For me, when there is a sandwich you revere so much, one that truly possesses the talents to achieve the status of Danger Sandwich, it is all the more disheartening to find one that is a let down.
First and foremost, the positives: The bread really was spectacular. A rye bread that was incredibly fresh, and doughy, with a perfectly even rye flavor It really showed that this had been hand crafted by someone who worked there and not delivered in a bag by some unknown megaconglomerate.

Although, I still feel as though it could have been better for the sandwich overall if it had been toasted.

This sandwich had two types of cheese: swiss and bleu cheese. Both excellent choices. The swiss with its smooth and mild flavor played well with the pungent dry taste of the bleu cheese. I enjoyed these two so much that I didn't even taste the pastrami at all.

No, really, seriously. You couldn't taste the main attraction at all.

I had to tear a piece off of the sandwich just to be able to taste it.

And I should have just left it alone. The meat wasn't bad, but wasn't great either. It lacked a definite taste and I could have been eating plain old ham for all I knew.

Maybe that's why they packed on so much cheese.

So, dear readers, I am asking you now for some recommendations for San Diego.

Have you ever been there? Have you heard of a great sandwich that needs to be tried out? Let me know, I'd like to hold onto hope that my next trip there will be devoid of subpar sandwich tastings.

Until next week!

*** Stars
Charlie's Best Bread
1110 Rosecrans St.
San Diego, CA 92106

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fun Times in San Diego (Pt. 1)

Salutations DANGERfans!

Last weekend I made my way down to San Diego to celebrate the marriage of two friends of mine (congrats Eric and Wendy), and like any true Sandwichologist, i used this excursion to seek our new delicious sandwiches far from my base of operations.

Scouring the internet for the word on the street, I happened to find stellar reviews on a place called the Brown Bag Deli.

The Brown Bag Deli is truly a local hot spot.

Because you seriously need to be a local to even know where this place is.

After driving back and forth a few times, it was finally spotted, tucked into a corner of a strip mall on an major street in Ocean Beach. The inside of the deli lacked windows and any flair. Obviously it needed no pizazz to attract locals.

A promising sign, indeed.

I ordered the Turkey Bacon Avocado Sandwich with the works on Foccacia bread. This sandwich was piled high with the fixings and was quite a challenge to even take the first bite.

Seems to be a pretty great sandwich already, right?

Well, let's discuss what went wrong.

The bread is really the main culprit here.

Focaccia should be a golden colored bread. Maybe even a slight crisp on the outside with a nice soft interior. It should be able to support a decent sandwich without being too tough.

The focaccia at Brown bad was still doughy. It's as if someone took it out of the oven ten minutes early. No golden color, no flavor, and practically raw. Disappointing at best.

The turkey was bland, a bit too moist, and too thickly cut for being deli meat.

The "works" were the only bright spot in this sandwich. Lettuce, onion, banana peppers, avocado, jalapenos, mustard, and mayo worked for this sandwich and really gave it the only life that the sandwich had.

If the turkey and bread had been better, this may have been a delicious sandwich, but sadly, it was not meant to be.

Next week though, I tackle another sandwich from my time in San Diego, so be sure to return for more DANGER!

Until next time...Dia De Los DANGER!

* 1/2 Stars
Brown Bag Deli
1912 Rosecrans Street
Point Loma
San Diego, CA 92106

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phast Phood Philly Style

Dear Seekers of Danger,

I must apologize in advance if this week's blog disagrees with your developed and refined palates. It is only because of my quest to search every delicious nook and cranny that I would even consider to review Fast Food on this blog.

Early on, I reviewed the double down, and I have been known to partake in the McRib when it is available locally, but please do not think that suddenly my tastebuds have become crude and uncouth. It is only by tasting everything, that we can fully tell what is good and what is bad.

With that being said, I figured there was one fast food monster burger that I should try, as the commercials for it have called out my name on numerous occasions.

The Carl's Jr. Philly Cheeseburger.

Yes, you've read that correctly.

While I plan to continually review cheesesteaks on this blog in order to find the best one, not only locally but in the world, this was not something I ever expected to hear about, let alone try.

So after seeing the burger shop guys with terrible "Philly" accents discuss this strange amalgam of meat, I saddled up and ordered.

First of all, like all fast food, the sandwich does not look like it does in the commercial. Whereas in the advertisement, the chopped steak meat is piled high atop a juice burger.

When I opened mine, I was surprised to see no steak at all. It wasn't until after I bit into the sandwich that I discovered the cheese formed a pocket on top of the burger, containing copious amounts of meat, fried onions and green peppers.

Out of all of the fast food places, I find Carl's Jr. to have the most flavorful and delicious meat. It's light years beyond most other fast food places. Even the steak here had more flavor than some of my previous cheesesteak experiences.

The onions and peppers though were too mushy. Almost soggy.

The bun, like most fast food places is a standard white bread bun. Nothing special.

I did enjoy the fact that this cheesesteak burger was made with provolone cheese and not the Communist supporting cheese wiz.

Just saying.

Overall, is this worth seeking out?

Like my previous review on the double down. It's neither good, nor bad. If you're at Carl's Jr. and you're interesting in trying out a good fast food sandwich, by all means, go for this one.

If you have to drive any sort of distance to try it (East Coasters can look for a Hardees...if they're still around), then I'd say it might not be worth your time. Try looking for something that is truly DANGERous.

Not just something that your heart finds DANGERous.

** 1/2 Stars
Philly Cheesesteak Burger
Carl's Jr.

and for your enjoyment...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Little DANGERous Competition

Welcome back, readers of DANGER!

In order to further my quest towards the elusive Danger Sandwich, this past weekend I decided to throw a dinner party where every guest would bring their own special sandwich to share with the group.

And I was lucky enough to be the judge.

Imagine that!

The sandwiches ranged from Savory to Sweet, but everyone of them was delicious.

But since you were all not able to attend this delicious expedition into the soul of a good sandwich, I will provide you with a quick guide to our entrants and their sandwiches:

1.) Strawberry Morning (May Wong) - delightfully sweet, and refreshing. Perfect for breakfast. Whipped cream cheese, strawberry preserves and diced organic strawberries on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel.

2.) Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Charlene Cowler) - Spicy Chicken nuggets in a sweet hawaiin bun with honey mustard and a dill pickle. The fun and deliciousness of a trip to Chick Fil-A miniaturized!

3.) Peanut Butter and Jelly Cooked (Mischelle Vreeman) - Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches pressed into hot pockets in a sandwich press. The Peanut butter and jelly mix so well together when warm.

4.) Bet On Black Turkey Sandwich (Nate Anderson) - Black Pepper Turkey, Pepper mayo spread, munster cheese, and alfalfa sprouts on toasted sourdough. An excellent blend of ingredients, and the sprouts add a nice contrast in flavor.

5.) Hunka Hunka Fried Up Love (Yours Truly) - my homage to the King of Rock and Roll. Just like Elvis enjoyed them: butter fried sandwiches filled with creamy peanut butter and sliced bananas. Dusted with a sweet sprinkle of powdered sugar, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon.

6.) Sloppy Jenna (Jenna Freyenberger) - smokey, spicy sloppy joes packed between two delicious slices of garlic bread.

7.) Italian Beef (Melanie Folk) - Slow cooked Italian Beef with onions, peppers, and provolone cheese in a hard Italian roll.

8.) The Giant Phillie (Chris Lightbody) - east meets west in this Bay Area inspired take on the Philly Cheesesteak. Roughly chopped steak with provolone, onions, red pepper aioli stuffed into a thick sourdough roll. Philly native approved.

After we had all sampled the sandwiches, I asked that everyone in attendance vote on their favorites. After the votes were tallied, here are the top three audience favorites:

1.) Italian Beef Sandwich
2.) Sloppy Jenna
3.) Hunka Hunka Fried Up love (thanks for the votes, everyone!)

But you have come to this blog to read what I have chosen to be number one!

As you may have read above, all of the sandwiches were very delicious, each with a different flavor. So it was very hard to narrow down, but I think I agree wholeheartedly with my fellow voters.

The Italian beef sandwich takes first place. The beef was incredibly tender, full of flavor, and fell apart in your mouth. the combination with onions, peppers, and melted provolone cheese added with a italian roll made this an excellent treat, and eating the leftovers the following night was just as delicious.

The Sloppy Jenna came in a very close second. I'm a big fan of sloppy joes, and this sandwich had the right combination of BBQ flavor, smoky taste, and the garlic added from the garlic bread was a nice contrast that really brought this sandwich to life. Make it for yourself at home!

Well, that is all for now followers of Danger. I hope that the sandwich entries above inspire you to try to replicate one of these or to create your own concoction. Either way, be sure to leave comments below about your ideas, and wish the winners well!

Until next week readers...Ciao, DANGER!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Delicious Find

Dear Readers!

There is something you should know:

Sometimes in life, when we are not even in search of the Danger Sandwich, a potential candidate will find you. Sometimes those instances can lead you to greatness, even when you don’t expect it.

Could this be ones of those surprises?

Recently while on a trip to Torrance in search of home brew supplies, I was greeted with an unexpected surprise. After drinking a significant amount of homebrew with the shop owners, I wandered across the street and found The Red Car Brewery.

While not particularly special looking, I did enjoy the idea of some microbrews with great pub foods. I also needed a sandwich that would help me back into a state in which I could drive again.

And boy did I find a great pub sandwich. A wonderful BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich.

The BBQ pork had been cooked to perfection. The pork easily fell apart in my mouth and almost melted away.

The only detraction from the pork was the sauce. While it was delicious, smoky, a bit spicy and really an excellent pairing with the pork, there was just a little too much BBQ sauce added to the pork and the sandwich. Some bites were almost overpowering because of the strong flavor. A little less sauce would have been spot on.

The roll was very well prepared. Lightly grilled on the inside, It added quite a bit of support without being too tough. The problem that you can have with sandwiches like this is usually one of two things: 1.) the bread is too soft, and it falls apart because of the sauce and heavy filling; or 2.) the bread is too tough or thick and detracts from the tender insides.

This roll managed to walk the line between the two.

The side of garlic fries were an excellent addition to the sandwich as well. Crispy, golden brown on the outside with a soft and warm inside, these fries would be delicious on their own, but when you add a ton of grilled garlic on top, it can’t be beat.

Overall, the sandwich was delicious and was a nice reminder of the summer months on a cool autumn day. Is it worth driving the 40 minutes from Los Angeles just to eat? Probably not, but at least I’d try to find some other things to do in Torrance to make the trip worthwhile.

Until next time, FOLLOWERS OF DANGER!

*** ½ Stars
Red Car Brewery
1266 Sartori Avenue
Torrance, CA

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Which Came First? (Part 2)

Well, Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome back for part two of my DANGERously insightful look at French Dip Sandwiches.

In last week's post, I tackled Philippe The Original's in downtown Los Angeles, and so this week I traveled a few streets west and found myself on Cole's French Dip Sandwiches front step.

I have tried Cole's before, but never in comparison to Philippe's, so I cleansed my palate, and ate's Cole's French Dip as if I never had before.

In order to accurately compare the two sandwiches, I again ordered the Lamb French Dip with Bleu Cheese

Despite what I've been told by so many people in Los Angeles, I have to say that Cole's is my preference, and for a number of reasons.

So, please dear Readers! Hear me out before cursing my excellent taste!

The chopped lamb was exceptional at Cole's. It's chopped much thinner than at Philippe's, is thoroughly cooked without being burnt (unlike an occasional piece at Philippe's), and was intensely flavorful and tender.

Advantage: Cole's

The bleu cheese was much softer, and more like a spread on this sandwich, compared to the solic brick on Philippe's. While both were delicious, dry, and pungent as aged cheeses are known to be, I have to say Cole's was much better as it became a part of the sandwich, instead of being a separate component.

Advantage: Cole's

Oh, did I mention that you are allowed to dip your own sandwich at Cole's? You are given a small cup filled with savory, slightly salty, meat sauce for your sandwich. An excellent complement to an already amazing sandwich.

Advantage: Cole's

The bread at Cole's was the only part of this sandwich that I was slightly disappointed with. Philippe's was soft on the inside, golden and flaky on the outside, and would be great for dipping as it would soften the bread up perfectly.

The bread at Cole's was a bit tougher and thicker, so it was able to hold more au jus that I would normally care for. Easily remedied by dipping less.

Advantage: Philippe's

I also want to make a quick note about the sides at Cole's. The atomic pickles are spicy, crunchy, and overall delicious. Order a side of them, but also ask for an extra glass of water.

The bacon potato salad is probably one of the best potato salads I've ever had in a restaurant. Just the right amount of mayonnaise: not too moist, not too dry; full of flavor; and covered in delicious bacon.

And don't forget their horseradish mustard to put on each bite of your sandwich after dipping in au jus. Just remember though, for most people, a dab of this mustard is more than most people can handle. So use it sparingly if you're sensitive to hotness.

I don't want anyone to think that I didn't enjoy the French Dip at Philippe's

I really did.

It's just that when laid side by side with its famous competitor, Cole's comes out in front, by a few roll lengths.

Until next week....


**** 1/2 Stars
118 E. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which Came First? (Part 1)

Hello again dear readers!

This week's blog is the first of a DANGERous two part story.

As you may know, I've started to compare different cheesesteak restaurants as I discover more and more in my sandwich journeys. Inspired by this, I wanted to take on a rivalry that is very well known in Los Angeles: Which is the better french dip place? Philippe's or Cole's?

French dip sandwiches are incredibly popular in Los Angeles, and there is a restaurant serving them in every neighborhood in the LA Metro area, but these two downtown LA locations are the most popular, and for good reason.

Both Phillipe's and Cole's argue back and forth as to which was the first french dip place in Los Angeles. Whether or not you have proof to either side of the story, or even care which is the original, each place has their own diehard fans.

Before tackling the French Dip in Los Angeles, I had only eaten at Cole's.

So to see what the other side is talking about, I decided to take on a French Dip sandwich at Phillipe's and compare the two sandwiches. Phillipe's this week, Cole's next week.

Showing up at 6pm on a Saturday night, I was greeted with 4 lines to the front counter, each one stretched to the back wall. A cafeteria style setting with wood chips on the floor, this place looked like it hadn't been updated in 80 years.

But the decor is not the sandwich, and for this sandwich I ordered the Lamb French Dip with bleu cheese.

The lamb was delicious. Roughly chopped into delicious, flavorful, and moist chunks, this sandwich is packed with meat, and definitely will fill you up.

The bleu cheese isn't used sparingly either. My first bite filled my mouth with about half of a block of cheese. They top the meat with two thick slices of bleu cheese. As I've mentioned before, Bleu ranks highly with me just like feta and goat because of the texture and taste. It was an excellent choice for this sandwich. Pungent, dry, and creamy, it is the perfect choice for the succulent chunks of lamb.

The home-made mustard is an excellent condiment to use with this sandwich. Prepared in-house, it is blended with horseradish and is quite a kick if you use too much.

The roll was light, flaky on the outside, and doughy on the inside, a great combination for a french dip sandwich.

And speaking of which, here comes my one complaint.

Phillipe's dips the sandwich for you.

Yeah, that's right.

You don't get a separate cup of au jus to dip your sandwich in, and decide how much should be dipped, or not dipped.

A few problems arise from this.

1.) it could be dipped more than you want, creating too soggy of bread.
2.) it could be dry by the time you sit down if it's not dipped enough
3.) you can't choose how much you'd like to dip it.

Is this really a huge problem with the sandwich? Not entirely. I feel like I would enjoy the sandwich even if it wasn't French Dip, as the meat and cheese paired perfectly. But I do enjoy a French dip sandwich now and then, and I do like to dip and then not dip, depending on my mood.

Overall, this is truly a DANGERously delicious sandwich that should be on the list of any sandwich fans checklist.

But the eternal question: Is it better than Cole's?

Well dear reader, for that answer, you'll have to check back here next week.

Until then...

**** Stars
Phillipe The Original Restaurant
1001 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Oasis in the City

Welcome back dear readers! Was your weekend as DANGERous as mine?

While combing through the Mummies exhibit with an oncoming sickness this weekend, I found a new oasis of Sandwichery on the USC Campus.

Following the directions to Sandwich Island, I must admit, I was lost for some time.

I stood outside of the address listed for Sandwich Island, but could only see an Asian Food stand. After pacing back and forth, and becoming increasingly worried that this highly recommended shop was no longer here, I looked inside and realized that Sandwich Island was truly an island: A small stand inside of a large cafeteria.

I am not one to make snap judgments, but I have to admit that at first I was a bit skeptical as to how DANGERous a sandwich in a campus cafeteria could be.

But how soon I was proven wrong.

My first sign that this was truly an amazing find? The Sandwichologist who worked here was incredible.

Without even thinking when asked which sandwich I should try, she sold me on the Turkey Avocado Sandwich, and watching her make it was quite fun. You could tell that not only had she been making sandwiches for awhile, but she enjoyed it and took pride in her creations.

Before she had even put the top half of the roll onto the sandwich, the contents stacked about 4 inches high, and were then beautifully pressed together into a nicely compact sandwich.

The sandwich is really dependent on what you want inside of it, since the only basics are turkey and avocado. I decided to go all out though and had pickles, onions, lettuce, and sprouts with spicy mustard.

I don't normally like tomatoes on my sandwich. I'm not sure how you feel dear readers, but I find that a lot of sandwich places tend to offer very mealy tomatoes of low quality. So I tend to pass on these.

The turkey was very fresh and full of flavor that is still very noticeable even with all of the extras on the sandwich.

The salad on top of the meat was also very fresh, especially the sprouts. I am a fan of earthy tasting raw vegetables in general, but specifically like them very much in a sandwich where they can add a nice contrast. If you've never had sprouts on a sandwich, you should consider adding them.

The avocado was also very fresh, creamy, and buttery. It actually might be one of the best avocados I've ever had, and there was plenty of it in the sandwich. The problem with an avocado is that with even the slightest period of exposure to air, it begins to oxidize and turn brown, making even the freshest avocado lose some of its subtle flavor in a short period of time. Not the case here though.

Before I could fully stand up from the table, my Sandwichologist asked me numerous questions about the taste of the sandwich, told me what she made daily, and what sides she handmade (the potato salad is made daily and is delicious). Truly a respectable lover of the Sandwich.

In conclusion, if you can make it down to the USC campus and find this hidden gem, you absolutely should. Reader beware though! During normal school hours, Sandwich Island, is packed more than a Sandwich Continent.

**** Stars
Sandwich Island
3333 S Hoover St # B,
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Flashback to Past Deliciousness

Gather around dear readers, because this week's DANGERous entry comes with a story.

Wanting to try another delicious sandwich, I decided that I would try out Spitz, a Doner Kebab shop in Eagle Rock.
For those not in the know, Doner Kebab is a Middle Eastern style meal in which lamb meat is roasted on a spit, then shaved off, combined with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, and sauces in a sandwich, or more commonly a wrap or pita.

Before I review this sandwich at Spitz though, I should tell you of a most DANGERous story in order to show you how high my standards are for this type of sandwich.

Back in 2006, while studying in Prague, I took off for a week in Berlin with a friend of mine. Our first afternoon there, we found a Doner Kebab place and that was my first time with this delicious gift of DANGER.

We liked it so much that we ate Doner Kebab more often than authentic German food.

The wraps combined all of the above ingredients, plus your choice of mild or hot pepper mash, and I have to say that either mash was an excellent addition to an already amazing offering from the Middle East by way of Berlin.
The meat was flavorful, tender, and perfectly cooked. The salad combined to offer an excellent crunch and add a vibrant and light counterpoint to the meat. Top it off with the pepper sauce in a warm pita, and you've found one of my new favorite foods.

In fact, we became such fans of the sandwich that our nearby shop was our last stop before almost missing our bus back to Prague.

We hadn't remembered that it was Daylight Savings Time and that we were actually behind by an hour. No worries though. We still got our sandwiches for the ride home and said Goodbye to Berlin with a mouthful of DANGER.
Returning to Prague, and then eventually the States, I never was able to find a comparable, or even passable, place to find Doner.

But now I believe I have.

Spitz has locations both Downtown and in Eagle Rock. And both are excellent destinations, though I do prefer the atmosphere of the Downtown location much more.

The meat is delicious and succulent. It falls apart in your mouth, is cooked evenly and not burnt, and is just a powerhouse of lamb-y goodness.

The salad is so fresh and crisp, I'd be surprised if it hadn't been harvested yesterday. The lettuce and onions add a nice crunch, while the cucumber and tomatoes and a brisk refreshing flavor to the sandwich.

Lastly, the bread: two slices of golden Focaccia bread, both warm and fluffy on the inside.

Combine these DANGERous ingredients together, and I swear I felt like I was back in Germany, being served a delicious sandwich from Turkish immigrants.

Do not hesitate to try this.

Even if you're not in LA, check out local listings for great places in your area serving Doner. You seriously will not be disappointed.

Until next week...


**** 1/2 Stars
2506 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041


371 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Five Freeway Adventure

Welcome back DANGER fans for another exciting adventure.

Lately, as you may know, I have not had much good luck with sandwiches.

They've been subpar at best, and for this I apologize to both you and my tastebuds.

While deciding on my next entry for this most delicious of blogs, I felt the best way to get back on track would be to again sample something from LA Magazine's 17 Best Sandwiches of Los Angeles.

It just so happens that one of these sandwiches was recommended to me awhile ago, and now I know why.

This week, I tried a Pork Banh Mi sandwich from Banh Mi My-Tho in Alhambra.

Truly an adventure into the dark recesses of Los Angeles, it took my five different freeways to reach the tiny corner strip mall that housed this mecca of Vietnamese sandwiches. Starting on the 405s, I traversed the 101s, 134e, 5s, and finally the 10e. It may sound like a lot there dear readers, but continue reading because I think you may be interested in taking this pilgrimage into the San Gabriel valley as well.

One thing I've learned since moving to Los Angeles is that food made in strip malls tends to be quite excellent. Tacos, falafel, sushi, whatever. It all provides a delicious dose of DANGER, and this Pork Banh Mi sandwich was no different.

For those that don't know, Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich on a french baguette, with roasted pork, and pickled vegetables, typically cilantro, shredded carrots, onions, and jalapenos.

Let's start with the bread, shall we DANGERites?

Flaky. Slightly crisp. Delicious. It's deliciously golden and almost melts in your mouth with each bite. A terrific match for the enticing insides.

The pork is served hot, and is slightly sweet, as if it were slow roasted in honey. Not only is it sweet, it's incredibly tender. The meat easily pulls apart and is really one of the best pieces of pork I have ever tasted.

The pickled vegetables add a nice crunch to the sandwich. Even though they've been pickled in vinegar, the flavor isn't as pungent as one would think. In fact, the pickled crunch is a nice complement to the sweet pork and soft bread.

The jalapenos were the final piece to this delicious puzzle.

Jalapenos are one of my favorite peppers, and for two reasons: 1.) they have one heck of a kick. I love them when they're hot. 2.) remove the white membrane inside and they're not so hot anymore, just smoky and delicious. The Pork Banh Mi's jalapenos fall into category two. Crunchy, slightly smoky, and just a slight bit of heat, these peppers perfectly counterbalances the sweet roasted pork, while adding more crunch to the sandwich.

Despite its relative distance to most of Los Angeles, this sandwich is definitely worth the trip. Even better, the sandwich and a drink only costs $4 total! I couldn't believe it when I was rung up. That is truly an unheard of price for such a delicious sandwich.

If you're in the Los Angeles area, and up for trying out a well hidden Vietnamese sandwich, you'd definitely be in store for some serious DANGER.

Lastly, with the past weekend being a holiday weekend, I of course attended a BBQ. And I wanted to give a shoutout to Chris Reiser, who crafted this delicious smoked brisket sandwich (smoked for 10 hours, topped with barbecue sauce and a soft hamburger bun). Tender and full of flavor, this is truly a DANGERous treat.

Until next week, DANGERites.

Pork Banh Mi Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
Banh Mi My-Tho
304 W. Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91803