Anyone who says Philly Shack's the first people to bring the renowned Philadelphia cheesesteak to our little red dot clearly doesn't know their sh*t. Before #cheeseporn really became a thing, Botak Jones has been whipping up their own BJ Cheesesteak along with other American favourites. Then came along the little heartland store Yellow Submarine, now with another store in Bugis Junction, and finally Park Bench Deli with their artisanal take on the sandwich.
And these are only those I know of and comes to mind — who knows where else I've missed out? So clearly Philly Shack's not the first. Question is, are they authentic or anywhere good?
Peanut Butter Jelly Spiked Shake (S$13++)
The first judge of any joint that claims to be authentically American is their milkshakes. No American joint goes without a milkshake or two in their menu, and it's such a ridiculously simple beverage to make there's just no excuse not to get it right. Philly Shack boasts virgin and boozed up options in their repertoire, with classic flavours like Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla, and more interesting ones like Peanut Butter Jelly and Banana Split. Surprise surprise, we got the latter; not cause it was spiked, but cause the flavours sounded too interesting to give a miss.
The Peanut Butter Jelly had a great consistency: thick enough you know they aren't skimping on the ice cream, and thinned down just right so you can slurp it all up through that straw. Though you may wanna take it slow, cause this shake has an ABV so high you can taste the alcohol in the very first sip. Great for the alcoholics, not so for a PB&J fan such as I since the alcohol overwhelmed any other flavours.
Beer Battered Onion Rings (S$5++) — served with house Honey Mustard
And then we move on to another American favourite: old-fashioned onion rings. Nothing fancy, just the good ol' humble onion, sliced up, battered, and deep-fried of course. Peel that golden batter apart and you'd find a whole ring of yellow onion — in tact, whatmore — cooked to perfection. It's soft enough to evoke memories of those KFC onion rings I recklessly chucked down as a kid, while still retaining enough bite to still resemble a vegetable. Only thing is these weren't very well seasoned, so dips on the side are a must.
Wings (6 for S$8.50++/12 for S$14++) — slathered in spicy housemade Habanero Sauce, served with PS' Blue Cheese Dressing
Which really isn't a problem when considering Philly Shack's treasure trove of hot sauce. Before we dug in and got our hands real down and dirty, their staff (did I mention they've got fantastically friendly staff?) approached us with a crate full of hot sauces. From mildly spicy, peppery, vinegary, to insanely flaming, they've got it all. Ask, and you shall receive.
None of those should detract from their housemade Habanero sauce though, which was commendably spicy yet yummy. We had them with Philly Shack's Wings which were surprisingly finger licking good. The wings themselves were very well done: crisp, well-seasoned, moist and juicy on the inside. Now pair that with a stellar hot sauce and you've got yourself a winner. If only they did this as massive party packs...
The Philly Shack Burger (S$17.50++) — 170g of beef served with lettuce, tomato, caramelised onions, American cheese, streaky bacon, and housemade BBQ sauce
Lovely charred bits on the outside promising a crisp, soft, fluffy, and moist insides...
Oh wait. You thought I was talking about the burger? Sorry bruhs, I was referring to them sweet potato fries. It sounds pedestrian perhaps, but Philly Shack's sweet potato fries are pretty damn legit. The burger though? Not as much. Buns were nicely buttered and toasted we'd give them that, but the patty was under-seasoned and over-cooked. No where close to tasting terrible, though barely scraping mediocre at best.
The Fully Loaded (S$19++) — Thinly sliced ribeye, topped with caramelised onions, green bell peppers, sautéed mushrooms, jalapeños, and your choice of cheese. Served in PS' housemade roll.
But what about the piece de resistance, their namesake Philly cheesesteak? Philly Shack offers 3 types of cheesesteaks: take your pick between the classic Philly Cheesesteak (S$17++), The Vege Philly (S$12++), or The Fully Loaded (S$19++), all of which comes with an option of American Cheese, Cheez Whiz or Provolone. If that's one choice to many, our motto's to go for the most expensive option with everything in it. Not a bad motto to lead by seeing how it led us to this fantastic cheesesteak.
The Roll: housemade, chewy, and nicely toasted, though a slightly crisp exterior wouldn't have hurt.
The Meat: a generous handful of sliced ribeye that's as smoky as it's juicy, and moist.
The Cheese: can't go wrong with processed American Cheese or the gooey, salty Cheez Whiz.
We've never been to the land of the cheesesteaks so we gotta be frank that we can't vouch for authenticity. Just matching what they've got with our technical understanding though, they've definitely ticked all the right boxes. Beyond the basics, our sandwich came jam-packed with jalapeños, sautéed shrooms, caramelised onions, and green peppers — definitely filling for one, and a mighty bang for your buck. If anything we'd have loved a freer hand with the cheese.
So boiling all of that down into a simple question: would we return for their Philly cheesesteak?
3A River Valley Road
Sundays to Tuesdays: 12pm-11pm
Wednesdays to Saturdays: 12pm-2am