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Trend we Love: Philly cheese steak, spotted in low- and middlebrow incarnations

The traditional cheese steak from I Went to Philly, and OddSeoul’s Koreanized version

Those who’ve grown weary of sanctimonious locavorism will welcome the sudden ubiquity of the Philly cheese steak on Toronto menus. The greasy cafeteria staple, in its traditional incarnation, is an oozing mountain of sliced rib-eye, grilled vegetables, hot peppers and Cheez Whiz piled into a squishy bun. It arrives on red checked paper, sends a rivulet of dribbling cheese down your shirtfront and defiantly flaunts its lowbrow junk factor in the face of fresh-and-local ideals. Here are some of the traditional and revamped versions we’ve spotted on menus around the city of late:

  • At the new Korean snack bar OddSeoul, chef Leemo Han serves a bulgogi cheese steak with marinated short-rib brisket, American cheddar, mustard and kimchee.
  • I Went to Philly, the new sandwich shop at Yonge and College, stays faithful to the original recipe, offering a white bun cradling thin-sliced Angus rib-eye, grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms, hot cherry peppers and a blanket of Cheez Whiz or provolone.
  • Chef Scott Vivian of Beast makes a version with Cumbrae’s sirloin tips, sautéed onions and old-school Cheez Whiz on a banh mi bun.
  • At The Gabardine on Bay Street, the fancified cheese steak comes with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and provolone.
  • Matt Basile of the food truck Fidel Gastro’s sears his rib-eye to a rosy medium-rare and tops it with Havarti, caramelized onions and a fried egg.
  • Stack, a newish upscale barbecue joint in Lawrence Park, sautées shaved brisket with zingy chipotle sauce, then piles the meat with jack cheese, caramelized onions and peppers.
  • Holy Smokez, a new Mississauga ’cue shack, layers smoked brisket, sautéed onions and peppers on a toasted kaiser bun smeared with spicy cheese sauce.
  • At The Hogtown Vegan, they swap out both the cheese and the steak, delivering a stack of house-made seitan, sautéed onions and peppers with ersatz cheese.

(Images: I Went to Philly, Twitter; OddSeoul, Megan Leahy)