Monday, May 11, 2009

Yang's Deli

Yang's Deli
4985 Summer Avenue

Team Oster likes to drive up and down Summer Avenue in pursuit of groceries, car parts, hardware, and food. Yang's is one of those places that we've passed a million times. And each time Warren says, "Have you ever eaten there?" which really means, "Wanna eat there?" I always look in the window and report that the place is empty, which is my code for "Let's go somewhere else."

On Saturday I was in a rather conciliatory mood so when Warren asked if I'd ever eaten at Yang's, I said, "We can go if you want." He drove past and I looked in the window. Again it looked empty, but then I spotted a man reading his newspaper. "There's someone there," I said. That was all Warren needed to hear.

The kids (Satchel, 6, and Jiro, 5), who had not even eaten breakfast, were claiming they weren't hungry because our next stop was Target. (They needed to buy a birthday present for their friend. However, they each had birthday money of their own saved up and were already plotting their purchases.) I started listing some menu items for them, "They have hamburgers, chicken tenders, sandwiches, Chinese food..." Satchel looked at me and pointed at the chips lining the counter. "I'll have two bags of Doritos," he said. "I'll have Cheetos," Jiro added. I quickly disabused them of this idea. "You need to eat something else," I stressed. Eventually they agreed to split an order of chicken wings. I told them to get their chips and sit down.

Then Warren and I stared at the vast menu and tried to figure out what we wanted to eat. (Frankly I didn't want anything, but I was humoring Warren.) "I guess I'll try a gyro," I said uncharacteristically. I never order the gyro--not even at Elliot's where it is supposed to be awesome. (I think that's what I was imagining when I ordered it.)

Warren was leaning towards Chinese food, which I thought was smart since they had several signs saying they specialized in "Chinese food and sandwich since 1983." He finally decided on General Tso's chicken, which came with fried rice and an egg roll. By now I was wondering if a gyro counted as a sandwich and if I had ordered the right thing. There was a table of guys nearby and I tried to see what they were eating, but their food was hidden in their little red baskets.

I ordered four waters and waited patiently for the nice pregnant woman behind the counter to ring me up. When she presented me with four gigantic styrofoam cups full of water, Warren pointed out that I was being charged .25 for each cup. Our final bill came to $21 and I found myself in one of those "Should I tip?" situations when my credit card receipt came with a line for the tip. It looked like there was one guy cooking and that he was also in charge of delivering the food, so I added a three dollar tip.

We joined the boys at the table and I resisted the urge to list the dozen other places on Summer Avenue where I would rather blow $24. The boys were just about done with their chips and each was covered in fake cheese powder. I did my best to clean them off before they started wiping orange funk all over their shirts. Meanwhile Warren said, "I think this place has an identity crisis." I looked up and he directed my attention to the antlers and bass fish mounted on the wall next to the Christmas lights. "They have highchairs though," he added, trying to remain positive.

Due to there only being one guy doing all of the cooking, we had plenty of time to take in the ambiance. The most noticeable aspect of the dining room was the small TV mounted to the ceiling. After ten minutes or so it dawned on me that it was tuned to QVC or some other advertising channel. It was very loud and very annoying.

Jiro needed to freshen up, so I escorted him to the restroom area. It was painted Pepto Bismol pink. Despite this, and the general dilapidated state of the restaurant, it still appeared clean-ish.

A few minutes after we sat back down, our food arrived piping hot.

One look at my gyro and I knew that I had made a mistake. The meat was sliced very thin and looked very processed. "Uh-oh," I said. Thankfully Warren did not get mad. He offered to share his with me, and then eventually eat mine. His chicken was okay--nothing spectacular. The fried rice was just rice and very boring. The egg roll was okay. Jiro declared his chicken wings "nasty" without even tasting them, but Satchel ate the one he agreed to eat when I let him get the Doritos. I tried one and they were fine. I glanced around for hot sauce, but didn't see any, so I just ate it plain.

Eventually the kids were begging for quarters for the gum machine and most of the food on our table was gone. (The order of fries proving to be the most popular item.) While we were there people continued to filter in. I kept trying to see what everyone was eating, convinced that Yang's must have some secret treasure hidden among the hundreds of menu items.

Maybe it's the muffaletta?

I won't be back to find out.

After all of the comments, Warren and I couldn't resist driving through for a muffaletta on our way home from the movies. It is definitely worth going back for--and I liked the drive-thru experience much more than dining in. Now we just feel silly for ordering Chinese food!

Yang's Deli on Urbanspoon


The Other Mike said...

I haven't been there in years, but back when I was younger and worked at Super D on Summer Ave. the muffaletta was wonderful. Most all the deli sandwiches were but I never tried the Gyro.

Stephanie said...

I think Chip used to go there when he worked on Summer. I know he took me in there once, but I don't remember what I ordered. Since it was at least 10 years ago, I doubt it would be relevant at this point anyway.

Jim said...

You know, you write an interesting and entertaining blog. Thanks

Chip said...

Yeah, Yang's is all about the sandwiches-- everyone raves about the muffaletta, which is really good. You definitely go there for sandwiches, not the Chinese food.

Adrienne said...

Sandwiches and Fries are great there!! Never had anything else they offer except the old Cheesecake Frozen yogurt, circa 1993. However, I should add that I also NEVER dine in. Always do the old-school take-out.

Anonymous said...

It is definitely the muffaletta. My parents order from their every time they are in town. Same thing, every time. The muffaletta is great.

cdel said...

I'm glad you did this place. I've always been curious about it. Now I know. Kind of a bummer though. I was hoping to hear that they have a great burger. The only really great burger I know of is the Shirley burger at the Lamplighter and I only want to go in there late at night.

Mel Spillman artwork said...

Sounds like a yucky place, thanks for the heads up. I hate spending good money on really bad food...and getting styrofoam cups?!? Yuk, major bummer Yang's- for real, get with the program.

The best muffaletta I have ever eaten was about 25 years ago in Destin, FL at a place called "The Sandwich Shoppe", holy crap- it was worth an 8- 10 hour drive good. I am not sure if they are still in business.

art rocks said...

i've always gotten the veggie supreme sub- it's all saute' on the griddle and has super yummy dressing on the sandwich. i use to CRAVE going there for lunch!! but i have to say, i fell out of the habit and haven't been in a few years.... maybe it's changed.

Unknown said...

Yang's is all about the sandwiches and take-out. I haven't been there for years and years, but I do miss the sandwiches.

JenO said...

I agree - sandwiches all the way. I always get turkey on wheat; they serve the sandwiches hot, with some kind of Italian dressing-y sauce which is delicious. We always used to go there during high school, and the owner will recognize us to this day when we go back when the girls are in town - down to our orders.

"Turkey on wheat, no tomato?"

klallen77 said...

I grew up eating at Yang's and continue to go there somewhat frequently. The Chinese food was just added to their offerings a few years ago and I've never tried it. However, I still consider the Philly Cheese Steak, the Chicken Supreme, and the Muffaletta some of the best sandwiches in the city. And if you go during the day, you can catch the owner, Mr. Chuck, for conversation with one of Memphis' true characters.

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