Jason Delp has two marks in his favor when it comes to Philly steak sandwiches. First, he grew up in Philadelphia under the thrall of Steve's Prince of Steaks, whose slogan promises that "one bite and you'll be a subject for life." Second, the name Delp is a big part of Philadelphia. Without him, it would just be Phila--hia. So it's no surprise that an East Coast kid raised on steak sandwiches and with Cheez Whiz in his veins would end up representing his home town with a truckload of tasty beef torpedoes served under the Pride of Philly banner.
Although he's been on the mobile-food circuit for just over a year here in Denver, Delp recently scored a new truck. Actually, it looks a little more like a van (or the Mystery Machine) than a truck, and it's not exactly new. Delp says he bought it from Über Sausage and has stripped off that branding, but is going with the underlying '70s yellow and green stripes for now while his own branded wrap is being printed.
Aside from the standard but beloved ribeye steak sandwiches, Delp has created a bulgogi-style mash-up based on his love of Korean food. He says he was eating at Seoul BBQ when it dawned on him that he could turn his favorite dish into a portable, bread-bound version. So with a little tinkering and a check-in with Homeland Security, the Kim-Jong-iladelphia sandwich was born.
I caught wind of the sandwich on a recent visit to Wit's End Brewing, a tiny west-side beer maker tucked into an unlikely stretch of warehouses near Federal Boulevard. Wit's End's themes lean more toward '70s and '80s pop culture than toward brutal and inhumane autocrats, so the stripped-down food truck at least wasn't out of place among references to the A-Team, Atari and Star Wars.
The sandwich itself is no nod to Communism or tacit agreement with oppressive government tactics; it's a salty, spicy, beefy mix of steak, hoisin, kimchee and attitude. A cult of personality could spring up around the Kim-Jong-iladelphia, swayed by the force of its magnetic presence. Otherwise, it's a simple presentation: marinated beef on a soft roll, minus cheese in any form, whether provolone or Whiz, because that would be just wrong.
It's the kind of sandwich that feels heavy in the hand but disappears after just a few bites, leaving you to wonder if a large portion of it went into hiding or was just an overblown myth. But the lingering heat and salt on your lips and tongue remind you of its reality, tempting you to indulge in a second round.
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Pride of Philly (or POP, as it's sometimes known) is itself rather elusive, with little Internet presence to speak of. But Friday nights at Wit's End are a possibility, or check in with River North Brewing, where POP has also been known to emerge, most recently on a Thursday. Until then, know that the Kim-Jong-iladephia is more than a rumor, if somewhat less than a threat.