Dueling Cheesesteaks: Jersey Mike's vs. Philly's Best
The bread: Both purveyors used what seemed like the exact same roll. The outer crust is soft but impermeable to liquids; the inner crumb pillowy. Both function as nothing more than a vessel and insulation for your fingers against the hot griddled meat and lava hot ooze of cheese melting inside. Winner: tie.
The meat: Philly's Best's sandwich seemed to burst beef. There was, what I gather, a 60-40 ratio of meat to bread in every bite I took. Meanwhile, Jersey's Mike's meat stayed encapsulated inside the bread, and the ratio seemed more like 50-50. Philly's protein also had more flavor, just the right amount of salt. There's only an incremental difference in texture between the two contenders. Though both chew with more or less the same degree of tenderness, Jersey Mike's meat slices seem thicker compared to Philly's Best, which exists in curls and ribbons. Winner: Philly's Best.
The cheese: Both use what I guess is white American cheese, applied to the cooking meat to melt and fuse with it. Philly's uses a smaller amount of cheese, or perhaps it is just eclipsed by the quantity of meat. Jersey Mike's uses the cheese like a sauce. Every piece of beef taken from a Jersey Mike's cheesesteak seems coated with a veneer of cheese. Much of the flavor of Jersey Mike's sandwich comes from this cheese as well as the red pepper and onion. Winner: Jersey Mike's.
The cost: Philly's Best 10-inch sub, $5.99. Jersey Mike's 7.5-inch sub, $7.95. Winner: Need I say it?
The winner: Philly's Best.
Jersey Mike's Subs, 16525 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92606-4943, (949) 955-2400
Philly's Best, 4250 Barranca Pkwy. Ste R., Irvine, CA 92604, (949) 857-2448