The run down on the new AOC LA (just brunch only) is coming, as is my multiple visits to several Larders. In the mean time, I have to admit: I kinda used to love Arby’s. I stopped eating Arby’s because… well. you just stop eating fast food if you live in LA, or you won’t be able to carry on these internet wars against other keyboard warriors.
First, Yiran, Monterey Park.
No one knows the actual purpose of Yiran. It used to be a Taiwanese snack shack, then Boiling Point next door obliterated any hopes of it flourishing as such. Then, apparently, some Mainland (Chinesers) took over, and turned it into some food joint. It was never apparent the purpose of the new ownership, but well over a year into the new operations, it seems Yiran found foothold as the skewer-du-jour joint. However, Feng Wei, a DIY hibachi restaurant with grills for skewers on every table, rendered Yiran rather useless again, and now Yiran is simply jocking skeweres with some random spicy hodgepodge thrown in.
Each skewer is $0.97 after tax, and with the minimum set at 3 orders, Yiran may actually be offering cheaper cumin dusted Beijing style BBQ lamb skewers than Beijing itself. After all, Beijing’s street police is about to put the SMACK DOWN on skewer vendors starting next month. Citing “air pollution”, the city is eliminating ALL skewer vendors from the innermost downtown ring, and anyone “caught” by chengguan will be fined a whopping USD$3000. That’s a LOT of lamb skewers. Better to move to Alhambra and hit up Yiran’s, then.
Top Round Roast Beef.
Growing up poor, beef was a pretty rare treat. At most, you got some shit ground beef, and sometimes, a McDonald’s burger was given as a weekend treat. I never developed the taste for beef, but I always preferred Arby’s over McDonald because the beef was supposedly superior. Who knows.
It was delightful to see Top Round open a few months ago. At $6ish, these sandwiches certainly aren’t cheap by fast food standards, but it falls way short of the typical Mendocino / Bay City / Fundamental offerings. Top Round Roast Beef is a fancier Arby’s. There’s no ifs and buts about this. From the PR spiel, one gets the sense they’re more serious about sourching here, and the final product shows. It doesn’t taste like congealed mad cows, which means the 200% over an Arbys is well worth the expenditure.
Due to my thorough appreciation of all things smaller portioned, a Top Round sandwich is perfect for a lunch meal. I wish the Thai bowl noodle sizing would apply to every single food sold as a single serving. In Thailand, yen ta fo and guay jap is served in a shallow 8″ bowl, not crater inspired 12″ pot. Here in Los Angeles, Pa-Ord, Joe Noodle and Hoy-Ka now all offer “small” and “authentic” bowls for a mere $4. Most skinny Thai women I know opt for the small size, and call it quits after. They don’t seem to be starving. I’m certainly not starving after one Top Roundn Eat Roast Beef sandwich.
Here, I prefer a simpler combination with an insipid bun. The cheez wiz adds a bit of texture, and the beef is moist, if not tad demure even with the supposed two handfuls of spice rubs. Just like at Arby’s, the roast beef sandwiches beg for a schmear of fresh horseradish. And with a small dab of the sinus-punishing root condiment, the roast beef sandmiches become an addictive pile of porny-looking, cheesy, anti-vegan beef smut. I’m not a sucker for DQ blizzards, and hence the concept of a concrete is long lost on me, even if I’ve chased down my fair share of frozen custards in Milwaukee. Stick to the round roast beefs, leave the ice cream to Mother Moo’s. Here, a 3-topping frozen custard runs a whopping $4.50, and without the disclosure of free-range cow milk being used, there’s no reason to pay for a nebulous base, even if it’s churned to a custard consistency.
Equally unattractive at Top Round is the “free style” Coke machine, known as the Ferrari of coke dispensers. This contraption, though pleasurable when offered at disgusting fast food places Top Round is meant to disparage, is simply out of place in a retro-designed establishment. Here, the bazillion variations of coke product comes in a $2 cup. Better then, just to take the sandwich home and sip on a bottle of higher quality root beer, or ginger beer, or beer beer.
Still, when Top Round franchises city wide, Los Angeles will be a far better place.