Philippe’s Original French Dip Sandwhich

While lounging back at home I was watching the Travel Channel and Man Vs. Food happened to come on coincidentally Adam Richman was in Los Angeles! Hey… don’t I live there?

He has the biggest appetite ever... and boy can he eat spicy stuff too.

He has the biggest appetite ever... and boy can he eat spicy stuff too.

During the show, Adam goes to a place called Philippe which is known for having the first french dip sandwich ever and boy did he make that place look good. He was practically slobbering into the vat of au jus when he was interviewing the cook on how to cook and serve the french dip sandwiches. The camera man showed Adam devouring sandwiches full of roast beef, roast lamb, turkey, and pork which was liberally soaked in au jus and pan drippings.

I was sold, I must have this, NOW.

I quickly called up a few of my friends and told them that Philippe will be our destination for dinner tonight and we quickly drove there in less than 10 minutes (I love living in South Pasadena, so close to everything in LA) via the 110 south roller coaster freeway (you’ll see why once you drive on it). We arrived at a very old and dingy looking restaurant that was located near one of my favorite dim sum places in Chinatown. We walked inside and was greeted with the smell of beef roasting and sawdust… so peculiar. The inside decorations were definitely screamed old school; there were long wooden tables with stools, saw dust all over the floor, old school menus, and workers dressed in typical diner dresses.

Au jus soaked bread with freshly carved lamb...mmm

Au jus soaked bread with freshly carved lamb...mmm

I approached the counter full of potato, macaroni, and various other salads and ordered the french dip lamb sandwich, double dipped please! The lady at the counter literally brought out an entire leg of lamb and started to carve chunks of hot and juicy lamb right off the bone. I knew this was going to be amazing already since cooking meat on the bone gives the meat a deeper and more robust flavor.

Real lemonade: Bright, citrusy, and actual lemon flavor!

Real lemonade: Bright, citrusy, and actual lemon flavor!

I also ordered a lemonade which came in the tiniest cup ever, I can literally down the whole thing in a few gulps. Besides the small size, it was legit homemade lemonade but it wasn’t worth the cost ( I remember was around a dollar). Come to think of it, all the portions here at Philippe’s are pretty small, but I’m probably spoiled by the obesity-inducing portion sizes served in the U.S.. I have to keep reminding myself it’s quality not quantity.

The mustard was nasal clearing and had a really strong mustard taste.

The mustard was nasal clearing and had a really strong mustard taste.

I sat myself down to the hay dusted stools and table and immediately grabbed the special house-made mustard that Adam hyped up as being the spiciest mustard ever. I tasted the mustard by itself and it tasted EXACTLY like the yellow mustard that Chinese dim sum places use (you know that yellow mustard that kind of just clears up your entire nasal passage when you take too much of it?). It did match perfectly though with the sandwich, it provided a spicy note and a certain acidity that cut through the fatty lamb dipped sandwich.

The lamb was gamey and lacked flavor but luckily it was saved by the awesome au jus.

The lamb was gamey and lacked flavor but luckily it was saved by the awesome au jus.

The lamb in the sandwich was somewhat disappointing, the hot and juicy chunks that the waitress cut for me while making the sandwich were somewhat dry and flavorless with a VERY heavy game flavor (my friend’s beef french dip was so much better). Luckily the bread was soaked in the delicious au jus that I didn’t mind it too much. The au jus was perfectly seasoned with a unctuousness that was almost indescribable since it was a combination of beef, lamb, pork, and turkey drippings. That’s 4 different types of animal in this au jus! The au jus also had a strong vegetable flavor probably from all the celery, carrot, and onions they used as the base of this heavenly broth.

Try it, they've been in business for 100 years for a good reason!

Try it if you want a legit and classic french dip sandwich!

Overall, I would come here again just to get the beef dip since the lamb was alright. As like most places in L.A. that are hyped up, it failed to meet the hype but unlike others (like Pink’s, which is HORRIBLE) Philippe’s manages to pull off a pretty damn good french dip sandwich. Philippe’s claims they created the first french dip sandwich and judging from all the history behind it, I think that claim is true.

P.S. after writing this entry I have realized I cannot spell sandwich correctly… I always spell it “sandwhich” for some reason!

Philippe The Original Restaurant

Neighborhood: Chinatown
1001 N Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 628-3781

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~ by Clifton Su on September 12, 2009.

5 Responses to “Philippe’s Original French Dip Sandwhich”

  1. The lamb here isn’t great and way too gamey but I always go for the pork with the coleslaw and sometimes the chilly without the beans.

  2. Hey Cliff – I guess the reason I enjoy the lamb more than the beef here is that it has that gamey flavor – the “taste of the pasture” if you will. Of course, I usually get all sandwiches double-dipped as well. The beef can be too salty sometimes.

  3. I like Philippe’s but the portions are just too small for the price. I’d rather go down the street and get a huge burrito and a drink for less money than one of their French dipped sandwiches.

  4. Philippes is not the same as it used to be. In 1967 I used to work for Dr. Walt Marcy just a few blocks away from phillipes where I had lunch almost every day for several years, and it was absoliutely fabulous. I recently took some of my family there so that they could experience the famous Beef Dip sandswiches. It was a disaster. After circling the block for half an hour looking for a place to park, it took almost 45 minutes just to get through the line to place an order. Then we had to squeeze through the crowd with our food tray to climb the narrow stairs to a filthy upstairs dining room furnished with the same old picnic tables ther were there in 1967. We had to clear off the leftovers from the previous customers ourselves so that we could sit down to eat, and even though there was an attendant on the floor, who did not speak english, he never picked up the remains left by the precious diners. The bigget disappointment was the food. Our beef sandwiches were scarcely dipped in the sauce and were very dry. Even the beef seemed to have been too long in the hot table and was very dry as well. Oddly, Phillipes will not give you extra sauce with your sandwich so you have to accept what the give you. The portions were also very sparce compared with years gone by but the prices have skyrocketed to the point of outrageous. With all of the profits they are making you might expect that they would put a little money into some improvements tto make the Phillipes experience a pleasant one. I was embarrassed and will never go back there again.

    • I completely agree, I haven’t been to Philippes in years. I can make a better sandwich than they could!

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