Danji to Offer ML Budget Friendly Gimbap


Photo credit: Hooni Kim

Hells Kitchen Korean restaurant, Danji, has earned a ton of accolades since its opening, including a Michelin star. Frustratingly their higher end lunch menu has always been just out of ML reach, with a lunch combo in the high teens. However, according to Chef/Owner Hooni Kim, Danji is now offering a sub-$10 lunch option in its offering of gimbap – think Korean style sushi rolls – $8 for the meat version with a choice of beef bulgogi or pork belly bo ssam and $7 for veg. Early adopters, let us know how it is in the comments. (And more importantly, whether it’s enough food to constitute a “lunch”.)

Danji, 346 W 52nd St (btw. 8+9th Ave). 212-586-2880

National Coffee Day Means Freebies on Monday

Pick a day of the year and it’s some sort of National [enter food/beverage] Day. But on National Coffee Day Sept. 29, there will be free and discounted caffeine, and we thought you may like to know where to get a cup. Financier locations around the city will be giving out free small cups of their new dark roast with any purchase, and Grand Central has several options. Irving Farm on the dining concourse has a cup of iced coffee involving maple for $2 from 7-9 a.m. and $4 after; Cafe Grumpy in the Lexington Passage is doing a tasting of two coffees from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Zaro’s Bakery in the Shuttle Passage has free upgrades on coffee sizes all day (medium for price of a small, etc.).

Sadly, Arirang Has Shuttered

In what is easily the most personally lamentable shutter announcement that I’ve ever posted in ML, I regret to report that beloved K-town mainstay Arirang, has reportedly closed.

During the past decade of eating in K-town, Arirang has been an agent of good times – cheerful and laid back service, cheap soju and fairly priced, awesome food that made the place a bargain whether you’re a lunch time or dinner time punter. I recall drunk dinners and hungover midweek lunches of sujebi, knife cut flecks of dough, swimming in profoundly rich bowls of chicken broth and many glasses of soju. Similar fare is non-existent in NYC – one would have to travel to Queens to get something similar.

I recall being so enamored with this place, that I submitted a hackneyed love letter to Zach, thus sealing my place as a contributor to this site over 4 years ago.

In Korean culture, the provenance of the term ‘Arirang‘ – often used as an unofficial Korean national anthem – denotes certain aspects of hope and optimism. In keeping with this theme, I can only hope that the future proprietor does this space justice.

Melt Shop is Coming to Midtown West

If you’re a worker that lunches in Hells Kitchen or a fan of Melt Shop, you’re in luck. The rapidly expanding grilled cheese chain has touched down in a relatively lunch option sparse block of 52nd & 8th. Although the reception of Melt Shop has a mix of lukewarm to fairly positive across all of the ML contributors, another lunch option in the neighborhood is always a good thing.

Simits are Taking Over Midtown with the Opening of Simit + Smith

No Pumpernickel??

It seems that lower Midtown west is turning into simit central. Mmm… Enfes has been selling the Turkish bagels at their storefront on 39th Street for over a year. Earlier this month, we told you about a new simit company opening soon a few blocks away on Fifth Avenue and 38th Street. Well, yesterday marked the opening day of a third simit shop in a two block radius. Simit + Smith has had stores across Manhattan for a while, but now brings major competition with their fourth location (and first Midtown outing) at 1400 Broadway (on 38th Street, between Broadway and 6th Ave).

Andrea was a big fan of their turkey sandwich downtown. This new location will also feature breakfast options, simit sandwiches, paninis, and salads. I suppose since we have bagel shops on every corner, we may as well have simit shops on every corner too. But, for now, if you’re a lover of crisper, lighter bagels, make your way to the west 30′s.

Simit + Smith, 1400 Broadway (on 38th Street, btw Bway and 7th)

A Clarke’s Standard Lunch Option Well Under $10

All you people do is complain about the $10 lunch “limit” that ML self-imposed 8 years ago that has never been adjusted for inflation. Here’s a lunch option at Clarke’s Standard that stays well under $10, and should satisfy everyone.

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B-Side Pizzeria May Eventually B a Midtown lunch

Chef Jason Neroni hopes to have a hit on his hands, with the recent opening of B-Side Pizzera at 756 Ninth Avenue (51st between 8th & 9th). The critically acclaimed Chef who served well reviewed pizza and pastas in LA, will be serving similar fair in Hells Kitchen, such as a carbonara pizza cooked in a Pavesi oven – an oven in use at other well regarded pizzerias such as as Roberta’s and Keste.

However not to be a screen door on the submarine, we should note that B-Side Pizzeria won’t be open for lunch until later this year. Also the pizzas and pastas also hover around the mid-teen price range. However, if you’re willing to pay $14 for ramen at Ippudo across the street, it’s probably worth it to pay as much for a gourmet pie as well…

Dinnertime pizza splurging early adopters, let us know how it is in the comments.

Urban Space, Another Trendy Food Market, Starts Today in the Garment District

Just like Broadway Bites and Madison Square Eats, the Garment District is getting its very own pop-up food market for a month. Beginning today and running through October 17, Urban Space will be presenting food vendors between 41ts and 39th Street along Broadway. Some vendors are familiar from previous markets, like Mmm… enfes and Roberta’s, but there will also be some new faces, like Frida’s Favorites (serving Mexican soul food), Cafe Patoro (Brazilian cheese puffs), and Paella Shack (from the West Village restaurant Barraca). For a full list of vendors, check out their website. The food sounds promising. Now let’s just hope the crowds and the prices are manageable. The market is open daily from 11am-9pm.

A Little Rain Can’t Keep the 10th Annual Vendy Awards Down

Vendy Awards

The annual Vendy Awards commenced this past weekend with typical fanfare – the live bands played with gusto, the crowd happily munched on food and sipped beer & wine, a mob of volunteers ushered in order and cleanliness, and an eclectic gathering of vendors busted their ass and served some seriously amazing food. This could have been any Vendy award, other than the fact that this festival marked its 10 year anniversary, and that for the first time in this writer’s memory, Mother Nature paid a visit.
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GRK Bringing Rotisserie Meats, Yogurt to Grand Central Area

One of the most memorable lunches I ate as editor of Downtown Lunch was at GRK in the Financial District. The meal involved a Thanksgiving special of rotisserie turkey, and it was spectacular. Soon we’ll be able to enjoy Greek meats carved off spits in Midtown East, as they’re readying a location on Lex btw. 44th & 45th streets. In addition to these meaty delights (lamb/beef, chicken, pork) in pita or plate form, served with your choice of three tzatzikis, they also have a pretty kick-ass fresh or frozen Greek yogurt bar with both sweet and savory toppings.

Yes, there are places nearby to get meats on spits (Adana Grill for Turkish, Naya Express for Lebanese) but there’s always room for more.