Sunday, August 08, 2010

Jersey Mike's - Irvine

Geographic irony has never tasted better than in Jersey Mike's Famous Philly. The fact that the meat starts out as raw and thinly sliced before its slapped on the griddle when you order is reason enough to forget that Philly isn't in the Garden State (though it's really not that far).

Then the cheese goes on as soon as the pink is cooked out. And it ain't Cheese Wiz as it's usually done at Pat's Steaks. Instead you get your choice on what to melt. Whatever it is, realize that the cheese bubbles into a sauce that will eventually burn your upper palate. Calling it a sauce is incorrect. I should say scorching hot cheese lava.

I sunk my teeth into my sub and was immediately sorry I didn't wait. Best I could do was do the tongue dance, suck in air as fast as I could, and fan it frantically with my hands as if that would help. They weren't kidding when they billed this as a hot sandwich. And I like it that way.

The onions and bell peppers (red ones!) transform into sugary flavor boosts and the whole sandwich worked as a kind of sloppy wet, steaming meat stir-fry encased in an insulating pillow of bread.

I was surprised how much I liked this sandwich. I had little or no expectations for Jersey Mike's when it opened. But there's routinely a line out the door despite the hidden location in a practically deserted plaza where even Sam's Club couldn't manage to succeed.

I suppose it helps that it's the only lunch time alternative from the other fast-food purgatory options of Taco Bell, Burger King and Panda Express. There used to be a food court here, but that died long ago.

The second time I had the sandwich, the meat was a little less tender, and I knew better than to bite into it as soon as the torpedo-shaped, foil-wrapped thing was handed to me. Pausing to take a picture helps.

Next time I'll order a cold sub sandwich. They seem to do a little show when they assemble it, showering the open faces with a deluge of oil and vinegar from a tall bottle like an overzealous weather effects prop man on Gene Kelly.

And aren't you glad I went this long talking about something from Jersey without mentioning Snooky?

Jersey Mike's
(949) 955-2400
Von Karman Plaza
16525-G Von Karman Ave
Irvine, CA 92606

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Dana Point

21 Comments:

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I used to eat at Jersey Mike's regularly before moving to SoCal from FL 6 years ago but now there's one in Brea now near my office that gets frequented regularly again. Yay! Their hot subs are good indeed but their cold cuts are really the star of the show for a chain style sub shop—everything sliced fresh to order unlike those other chain sub joints with pre-cut stacks of flavorless bacteria collecting garbage. So yeah, try a #13 when you go back but I'd recommend asking for easy oil and vinegar. They tend to go quite over the top with it when you get the sandwich "Mike's way."

 
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously?
Philly's Best, nuff said

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

Hrm. I'd like to know what you think of a cold sub there if you try one. I thought it was low on ingredients, dry and no better than Subway while being 1.5 times the price. I spent $10 on a lunch that was made with no thought or care. Then again, being spoiled on Claro's and Harry's and my own sandwich creations, I am very harsh when judging the chains, however big or small.

I don't know about the Philly, and probably will never go back to find out. When I want one, I agree with Anon, I go to Philly's Best, specifically the one here in Lake Forest.

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger DanGarion said...

I haven't really been that impressed by Jersey Mike's the 2-3 times I have had a sandwich from there. I've tried the Brea and Huntington Beach locations and the sandwiches have been barely above Subway quality. The Turkey Cheese I had was barely average, and the pastrami reuben was bleh. I would be hard pressed to get a cheesesteak from here after my previous experience and my love of Philly's Best.

 
At 10:17 AM, Blogger Kernel Paniker said...

I don't think I could ever get a cheesesteak from Jersey Mikes. I guess I kind of expect it to be like steak escape or charleys. Maybe its good but I reserve cheesesteaks for John's Philly Grille and Philly's Best.

I DO like their cold sandwiches but they are pretty pricey. Dont get me wrong, its no Cortina's but its not subway either.

 
At 10:20 AM, Anonymous JB said...

"Cheese Wiz" is actually the only true melt to have on a cheesesteak, in my humble opinion. If you ask for, say, provolone, it's not the real thing. It would be like ordering macaroni and cheese and asking for provolone.

And I have to say I cringe whenever I hear "Pat's Steaks" cited from a journalist's template of references as defining the genuine Philadelphia cheesesteak. Right across the way is their arch-rival, Geno's Steaks, which is clearly better. Better bread, better meat, spotless and bright kitchen. I could go on and on.

This Spring, after at least a 20 year abstinence, I decided to try Pat's again to see if I was being too harsh with my opinion. Well, I wasn't. If OC Weekly had a 100 best food options anywhere feature, Geno's would be included.

Sorry to rant but I'm so mad at these Food Network channels for further spreading the fallacy of Pat's. Geno's is the place featured in Boyz II Men's "Motown Philly" video...as Philly natives, the 4 of them got it right.

 
At 6:19 PM, Blogger digkv said...

Ha Snooki, love how you really blend pop culture into your reviews. I wonder why it's called Jersey Mike's then, there's one in Brea too that I've been meaning to go to. It's kind of sad that they don't have cheez wiz, like JB said, it's the only really cheese that you should have. I myself have never had it in Philly but after trying many variations at the delicious Philly's Best, the cheese snob in me must admit that cheez wiz just creates this wonderful creamy sauce that the "lava" provolone just can't compare to, and I agree with you, usually that cheese is damn hot!

 
At 11:25 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Unlike the other posters I've never had a philly cheesesteak yet. :)

It does look good but does seem like a variation without the cheese wiz that's featured in other places!

I love how you always take note of red bell peppers. More pricey and more yummy. :)

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Dave P said...

I've had the cold cuts at Jersey Mikes in HB. Mediocre food and typical indifferent customer service behind the counter. Here are some better sandwich options: Any Philly's Best or Tummy Stuffers or a cheap Little Saigon Banh Mi.

 
At 1:09 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

I've actually had Jersey Mike's before. We don't have them in Michigan, but I tried it while visiting friends in North Carolina once. I do remember liking it.

Going to try and be better about checking blogs (and blogging). Been in a daze with the new baby. Have you seen the pics of Aria I've posted on Facebook? She's such a little doll! I adore my little girl!

 
At 7:26 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Busy week this week. Sorry for the late replies.

Jay,

So that's what Mike's Way is.  Mike's Way is apparently the Wet Way.  I'd imagine that sandwich would be soaked through and through after that much vinegar and oil. Good tip.

Anonymous,

You're the first, but evidently not the last to suggest Philly's Best.

Melissa,

I concur.  Harry's Deli has spoiled me as far as sandwiches go.  I'd even say it's better than the sandwiches that I make, if I made sandwiches.

Dan,

I've been meaning to try Philly's Best for years.  Perhaps it's time. To be honest this is the first Philly's Cheesesteak I've ordered in probably a decade.

Kernel,

Interesting that there are so many different opinions on that cold sandwich of theirs. I actually didn't like the way they looked, which is why I went with the Philly. But I'll try them just to try them.

JB,

Ah, but my favorite mac and cheese uses gruyere! And now I have something to add to food rivalries I've not yet had the ability to appreciate: Pat's Steaks v. Geno's, meet Ray's Pizza v. Everybody.

Kudos on the Boyz II Men reference. God, I haven't heard that song in ages.

digkv,

Or in this case, how I DIDN'T sneak in Snooky! HAH! I just made a funny!

EatTravelEat,

I'm glad you caught that I celebrate the red bell pepper. So much more flavorful than the green!

Dave,

Well, if you bring up banh mi, how could I ever argue. Banh mi is my sandwich of sandwiches!!!

Juliet,

Yes! Aria is adorable! I'm notoriously shy on Facebook and never comment, but I have silently coo-coo'ed you new baby girl from my computer screen! So adorable! A belated congrats if I forgot to say so before!

 
At 8:09 PM, Blogger Exile Kiss said...

Hi elmomonster,

Interesting. Thanks for the review. :) I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I visit my friends in Irvine. Thanks. :)

 
At 5:58 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

Thank you! We are so happy with our newest addition! :)

 
At 2:37 PM, Blogger Sawyer said...

hey elmo! i saw one of these places in brea and i've been wanting to try it for some time, but this is the first i've read about it. how much was it btw? i'm curious about the prices

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Exile Kiss,

Keep in mind it's still a mere sandwich shop, but it is, in my opinion, better than most chains. Of course, I've only tried their Philly in the two times I've been.

Juliet,

I know you are, as am I!

Sawyer,

Warning! It's actually not that cheap. A "regular" sandwich is about $7.95. A "giant", which about a foot long is about $10.95. I did the "giant' Philly and split it. Plenty of food for me, but perhaps not for Adam Richman.

 
At 1:44 AM, Blogger mark said...

I was watching The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network, and there's this company called Nomnom Truck, started by some UCLA business school graduates I believe. And for a moment I thought they said they had "carne asada banh mi," and then I double took it as "philly cheeseteak banh mi." Mass confusion on my part, but reminded me of this entry.

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger Saturday Night Foodies said...

Great article, I can't wait to try Jersey mike's out!

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Interesting Story:

I was there the other day, cashing in on my BOGO coupon on a particularly slow afternoon.

As I was eating my sandwich, I noticed how carefully the sandwich maker was layering on the toppings. Salami in neat folds. Tomatoes so that they slightly overlap. Olives in strategic spots. It seemed as if he were moving in slow motion. The attention he paid was like that of a person playing Jenga or someone from the bomb squad. He was meticulous.

By then I was transfixed, curious about the lucky bastard who ordered this particular sandwich--this sandwich crafted as it were sculpture. Was it for the person who just called it in? If so, he wasn't here yet.

Then, I saw the sandwich maker wrapping it up, taking it to the back of the store, where he ate it himself.


Mark,

I'd eat a Philly Cheesesteak Banh Mi this instant.

Saturday Night Foodies,

Enjoy! But I need to temper your expectations: it's more a pick-up-and-go lunch spot, less a Saturday Night destination!

 
At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're not from the tri-State area (NY, NJ, PA) you might not like Jersey Mike's but it's what I grew up on and LOVE. Try a #11 Mike's way, extra juice on the top of the bread with pepper spread. Absolute perfection! I have never tried their cheese steak- I go to Philly's Best for those- because you can't get an authentic cold sub like theirs anywhere else around here. Pricey they may be- but the ingredients are quality. IF you think Tummy Stuffers with their cubed tomatoes (WTF?) is better please stay the **** away from Jersey Mikes- us natives don't want you there anyway!

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger SoCal Fishers said...

As a Philly transplant, I hated Jersey Mike's. Philly's best was much better. The ingredients are all there, but somehow they just don't pull it off.

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger DanGarion said...

FYI, I've changed my mind on Jersey Mike's the Orange location has become my go to sandwich shop.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home