Archive for July, 2009

Amato’s Cheesesteaks

Eating sandwiches is hard work! I’ve gone from eating maybe one sandwich every month to eating four sandwiches in five days. It kind of makes a person crazy. Not that I’m complaining per se. But I’m a girl of variety. So endeavoring to eat a lot of the same food in a month is crazy!

Tonight Kyung and I were debating dinner with our friends. What to eat? Indian? BBQ? Burgers? An hour later we finally concluded we should get cheesesteaks. Kyung has been to this cheesesteak place before, and he thought it would be a good addition to the blog. So off we went! The four of us piled into the car and rolled our way to the tiny stripmall on Saratoga that holds Amato’s. I guess sandwich shops really like being in strip malls with strange services – we rolled past more insurance offices, and a travel office that would lead you to the ‘outback.’

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Upon entering the shop, you find that it’s actually quite a long though thin store – long counter on one side, a few tables and chairs towards the front. There is an open area for you to watch them grill the meat and cheese before piling it high on your sandwich.

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I’d like to point out these are some serious sandwiches. You don’t come here if you’re on a diet, or if you want to eat a ‘little bit.’ No, this is the type of place where everyone is at least 100 lbs overweight and it seems normal and expected. I certainly felt like if I lived down the street I would soon be 100 lbs overweight. There are three sizes – 7″, 12″, and 24″. The 7″ ‘shorty’ is so huge that I think the 12″ and 24″ must be for at least three people to share. The 7″ is so large that I wish I had shared it with Kyung, since no one could possibly eat all that and not have a heart attack. I ordered ‘the works’ which came piled high with steak, cheese, grilled onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Did it taste authentic? I have no idea, but I know that the thick, soft bread overflowing with the goodies inside was very very satisfying. It was so hot that a piece of onion fell out of the sandwich and scorched my finger. Oddly, though this sandwich wasn’t exactly healthy, it tasted alot healthier than the cheesesteak I had at Ike’s. Probably because the one from Ike’s was dripping with mayo and dirty sauce.
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Besides cheesesteaks with beef, you can order cheesesteaks with chicken; you can also order hoagies. In addition, you can get soda, beer, and various sides like cheese fries. Piping hot crinkle cut fries slathered in thick cheese sauce – hell yeah!

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La Baguette

Ah, the French sure know their sandwiches. Okay, I know that many ‘French’ sandwiches here are not made by French people. But you get the point. There is something so appealing about a baguette covered in cheese (preferably Brie), butter, and some sort of meat. Or mustard instead of butter. One of the two.

Roo and I were doing some retail therapy today in Palo Alto and in my excitement I pointed out the tiny patisserie/sandwich shop in the mall and declared I wanted to try one of the sandwiches. She readily agreed and we proceeded to enter the corner shop.P1010490

I love pastry shops that also serve French style sandwiches and fresh bread. There’s something so appealing about being able to get something distinctly savory and distinctly sweet.P1010489

I didn’t eat something sweet today (maybe I should have) but I did get to try the pastrami baguette, which comes with thinly sliced pastrami, swiss cheese, and two layers of mustard.
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The deep crunchiness of the bread was satisfying to the palette, especially when paired with its hearty center – it may be a thin layer but don’t underestimate the depth of flavor.

I also tried Roo’s ciabatta sandwich that came with basil, tomatoes, balsamic, and mozarella. No picture, but I can still taste the garden freshness. That one tasted fresh and was probably 1000x healthier than mine =).

I must say, Ike’s Place is still owning out of the sandwiches places I’ve tried. I don’t know if I’m going to find one better!

Cam Hung – Banh Mi!

People used to always rant and rave to me about how wonderful Vietnamese sandwiches are. Cheap, filling, and…healthy? I wasn’t convinced though. I’ve never had a ‘great’ Vietnamese sandwich. To me they looked like stale sandwiches with hard bread and overstuffed with veggies.

Until now. Maybe now I can finally see the light. In honor of sandwich month, I agreed to go with Teal to try a Vietnamese sandwich. She Yelped a local sandwich shop called Cam Hung in Sunnyvale. It’s small, tucked into a strip mall that promises to sell you insurance and alcohol, and is across the street from a Subway (another ‘healthy’ sandwich shop that’s cheap but on a chain scale). P1010481

The inside is a hodge podge of sticky chairs, packs of cookies and banana peppers, and coolers full of Asian-esque drinks like coconut milk or soy milk. The colorful menu of sandwiches is prominent. In addition to sandwiches, there are spring rolls, rice dishes, and other deep fried goodies.P1010482

I ordered the 4b, which is a sweet BBQ pork banh mi. It was huge, warm, and only $3.00! I have to admit, before I took the first bite, I was pretty hesitant. What would this Vietnamese sandwich give me that others didn’t? Surprisingly, a lot! The BBQ pork was tender and moist, it wasn’t hard and dry, and the crispy bread with the soft and fluffy insides was a great complement to the fragrant cilantro, sharp onions and crispy daikon pieces. It was a revelation.P1010484

Teal’s sandwich also looked very tasty, though I didn’t try a bite because I was too busy scarfing my own down. She really liked hers!P1010485 This was the 4a, which is the regular BBQ pork (savory, not sweet).

All in all, a good eye opening experience to a new world of inexpensive eats. I don’t see myself craving Vietnamese sandwiches on a regular basis, but at least I’m not completely out of the loop!

Ike’s Place

July is ending, and August is around the corner. As the summer months start peaking and waning, it’s time to celebrate the weather before it leaves. And that means picnics and sandwiches outdoors! I am going to dedicate August to sandwiches – this means Kyung and I will be trotting around locally to the different sandwich hotspots to try our hand at finding the best sandwiches. I have to say though, so far it’s been very hard for us to find a place better than Ike’s – located at 16th and Sanchez in SF, it’s a spot that attracts both out of towners and locals alike. On Yelp this place has 1000 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars – how many other places in SF, both pricey and inexpensive, can boast such fervor? Not even French Laundry, though it’s a restaurant after my own heart, can claim such a thing.

According to Ike’s website this shop opened in 2007. And yet, look at the line of people waiting after the lunchtime rush today at 2 pm – this place is clearly a winner!_EPS2705-1

After waiting in line for 20 minutes and then waiting another 20 minutes for the sandwiches to be done, we giggled and ran back to the car to enjoy our long awaited goodies. Normally we perch at the haphazard arrangement of chairs and tables outside the tiny store that can’t hold more than three people in line at once but the garbage cans outside smelled so bad and were attracting lots of swirling flies in the heat. Behold our sandwiches
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The left two halves were from my sandwich – I ordered the Disco Disco, which is a veggie sandwich that comes with hummus, sprouts, and cucumber. At least, it’s supposed to come with sprouts. Today they ran out of sprouts, so I settled for a sproutless sandwich. All sandwiches come with dirty sauce (which is their special secret ingredient and is a garlic aioli that’s baked into the bread and also served slathered on the bread), mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers, onions, and pickles. I declined the dirty sauce and mayo, since I’m not usually a sauce fiend. I ordered my sandwich on sourdough, which is freshly baked and recommended as a good pair with the hummus. My sandwich was crunchy on the outside, crispy, savory, and hummus wonderful on the inside. I wouldn’t say Ike’s sandwiches are the healthiest, but I felt like I just ate something incredibly healthy and good for the mind/body.

The third half on the right is from Kyung’s sandwich – he ordered the MILF – which is chicken breast, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, stuffed jalapeno poppers (yes, the deep fried kind), and ranch. It was a combination of two flavors he likes – chicken wings and poppers, so I suggested he try it. This sandwich was messy and got everywhere but was so junky, slightly spicy, tangy, and artery clogging that it was worth the mess.

What could come after all the sandwiches? A surprise treat! Two tootsie pops, to be exact
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We didn’t eat them right away after our sandwiches because we were stuffed to the brim, but they were waiting for us…until now. I’m eating the blue raspberry one as I type.

This is now our third time to visit Ike’s, and it’s our third time in the last three weeks! There are so many sandwiches to try – we’ve also tried the Pride of Castro (my personal favorite of all three I’ve tried), the SF/Hollywood Cheesesteak, and the Hot Date. Amazing how such a find has transformed our sandwich lives. But, there has to be other sandwich places out there equally as good. Onward!

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