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The Sandwich: Philly Steak
Where: HipCityVeg, 712 7th St. NW, (202) 621-8057, hipcityveg.com
Stuffings: Pulled “steak,” grilled onion, mushroom, lettuce, tomato, organic ketchup
Bread: Whole wheat long roll
Thickness: 2 inches
Pros: Freshly griddled mushrooms make this sandwich from the Philadelphia-based vegan fast-casual outlet much more savory, while the caramelized onions yield a pleasant sweetness. The slightly crunchy onions also provide some needed textural contrast. While the organic ketchup tastes more like pasta sauce than Heinz, its sour flavor complements the salty “steak.”
Cons: The faux meat, made of organic soy and grains, tastes too wheaty and becomes gummier as you slowly consume the heavy sandwich. In its brown gravy, it looks like mystery meat served in a prison cafeteria and has the texture of dry playdough. The lettuce and tomato, ingredients that should be highlighted at a non-meat restaurant, wilt and turn to mush next to the heated fillings.
Sloppiness level (1 to 5): 5. Too many ingredients piled in a small, flimsy roll makes for a very messy sandwich that can barely be lifted to your mouth. As an added bonus, your hands will be covered with an oily film by the time you finish the sandwich.
Overall score (1 to 5): 1.5. The sauce tastes great, but construction issues and gluey imitation meat render this sandwich almost inedible. Dump the steak, double up on the mushrooms and onions, and select a sturdier bread option, and this vegan experiment improves tenfold.