Archive for October 2006

PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Cheryl”

Every Tuesday I turn over Midtown Lunch to a random Midtown worker, for their favorite places to eat lunch in Midtown.  This week, it’s Cheryl- the girl who introduced us to Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine! (full review coming soon)

Name: Cheryl


Research Manager at a Non-Profit

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Lexington btw. 40th & 41st

Favorite Kind of Food:
Salty kinds.  For example, iskender, a Turkish dish consisting of a layer of cut up pita bread, covered with shaved lamb, tomato sauce (which makes the pita bread totally soggy and delicious), and yogurt.  If you order this dish in Turkey, they pour a ladle full of hot butter on top.  It makes my mouth water to think about it.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: 
Sweet kinds.  Especially any kind of dessert that includes whole chunks of fruit, such as apple pie.  Blech. 

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown: I have two.  The first is Sophie’s Cuban (Lex. btw. 40+41st) and it’s not just because it’s the closest place to my office, it’s also the best in the neighborhood.  Any of the pork sandwiches are amazing, the roast pork entree with black beans and yellow rice if you’re feeling a little more extravagant, and ALWAYS get the green spicy sauce.  We also like what we call “the rice ball place” (because how does one pronounce Oms/b) on 45th btw. Lex & 3rd.  I order 3 pieces: lobster, hijiki, and tuna, and a miso soup.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often:  Delmonicos, a block away.  Their formula (the midtown deli) sucks, but their BLT with avocado on rye is a weekly necessity.

Place you discovered on Hurry & Tasty Curry

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?  Sunset Park (Brooklyn).  The Asian and Mexican lunch options are delicious, cheap and plentiful.

If Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine sounded good to you, but you work a little too north to hit up the Lexington & 41st st. location- I’ve got some important info for you after the jump… (plus, how you can be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er)

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Al Baraka… the Turkish Buffet


I’m a big fan of the buffet.  Not any particular buffet… just buffets in general.  I like the style of eating.  I like the variety.  I like the extent to which I can embarrass myself by eating a ridiculous amount of food.  Chinese would have to be my favorite kind of buffet, because I find it very hard to order just one thing at a Chinese food restaurant.  I’m actually a huge fan of any kind of Asian food in buffet form.  Sushi is not ideal (because of the freshness), but I have found a couple that I enjoy (like the Korean/Sushi buffet Arang, in Koreatown).  Indian buffets are great.  All you can eat Naan is an added bonus… and the only time I will lower my “don’t eat the bread” buffet rule.

American buffets are ok, but they are definitely my least favorite.  The buffet that a pregnant Frances McDormand ate at in Fargo (with the meatballs) looked pretty sweet… but unfortunately fictional buffets don’t count… and even if it does exist- I doubt I’ll ever be in that small town in Minnesota.  I love the buffets in Vegas- but I usually end up eating the Asian food- so that doesn’t really count as an “American” buffet.  I haven’t been to Charles Southern Kitchen (a Soul Food Buffet in Harlem) but it’s pretty high on the list.  Fried chicken on a buffet is the greatest and worst thing of all time… but I did survive a KFC buffet off I-95 in Florida once, so I’m sure I’ll be ok.

So on Friday, I was walking in an area of Midtown I had never been before and stumbled upon something very exciting (to me, because I’m fat and love buffets).  The place was called Al-Baraka, and it was something I had never seen before in all my buffet eating… a Turkish Buffet.  It passed the price test ($9.95), and the look test (the best part about eating at a buffet is that you can go in and take a peek at what you’re paying for) so I decided to check it out.

What I ate, the food porn and the +/- all after the jump…

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Mildly Funny Midtown Pics, Midtown Links and the end of the week wrap up…

I thought the Tuck Shop had fallen prey to some teenage prank when I spotted their sign walking home from work the other day:

But they must have done it on purpose- because it was still there a few days later.  I don’t know if this is some sort of an Aussie joke, or they just did it for the attention… but apparently worked- because here I am posting about it  (they do make delicious pies… if you haven’t had them, you should check it out.  Damnit!  I just plugged them… stupid Aussies and their clever marketing ploys.)

I also saw this on 45th street btw. 5+6th the other day:

I thought it was pointing out a restaurant with rats… but I think it’s just some union thing, because the rat was pointing at a construction site.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if the NYC Health Department just put gigantic blow up rats in front of restaurants with failed inspections (rather then those stupid yellow notices).  Speaking of those notices… we read on Eater last night that the eagerly anticipated Sushi of Gary 46 (on 46th btw. 8th & 9th) must have failed it’s final inspection and has delayed it’s opening by a day.  Don’t everyone rush over there all at once tonight…

More links to Midtown stuff you definitely want to know about… including 117 stories about the ladies of the Hawaiian Tropic Zone, all after the jump:

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The Salmon & Wasabi Cream Cheese “Sandwich” at Au Bon Pain

Being from a Jewish family, I’m a big fan of the smoked salmon.  Lox or nova… doesn’t matter which one, just slap it on a bagel with some white fish, cream cheese, onion (and sometimes tomato) and you’ve got one of the greatest meals of all time.  Thank you to the Eastern European Jews who brought this delicious food over at the beginning of the last century… 

Flash forward to the 80s, and Jews all around the country (actually it was probably just in New York and Miami) were trading in their parents’ smoke fish for raw fish.  Sushi was the new “it” food, and Jewish kids everywhere must have been thinking the same thing I was thinking the first time my Dad took me for sushi (“This is the weirdest chinese food I’ve ever had”). 

Now, I don’t know what genius came up with this one, but I’m guessing at some point one of these Japanese chefs said “Hey… Jews seem to love this bagel with cream cheese and salmon thing… let’s add cream cheese to our salmon maki!”  And thus, the “Bagel Roll” was born… also known as the Philadelphia Roll or sometimes the JB Roll (the Philadelphia I understand- because of the cream cheese, but I’m scared to know what JB stands for.  Could it possibly be Jew Boy???  That would be insanity…)

Anyway, flash forward another 20 years and it looks like Au Bon Pain has decided to take this marriage one step farther… reclaiming the salmon & cream cheese bagel- but keeping the Wasabi.  What the hell kind of craziness is this?  I don’t normally eat at chain sandwich places like ABP, but I could only manage walking by the sign 3 times before finally breaking down and trying this “Salmon & Wasabi Cream Cheese Sandwich” at Au Bon Pain.

What the actual thing looked like (nothing like the sign of course…), and the +/- after the jump…

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Village Voice: Best of NYC gives Midtown it’s due!!!

I totally missed the Village Voice: Best of NYC issue that came out last week… and it’s a shame too because they wrote about a bunch of Midtown places- many of which I hadn’t heard about.  Yesterday was the last day to pick up the issue, so if you missed it- here’s a breakdown of some of the Midtown eats they recommended:

Best Unexpected Outdoor Dining:  Taam TovThe balcony overlooking the bustling Diamond District street is one of the cooler things about this Uzbeki Kosher restaurant… although it’s already too cold to eat outside.  Have to wait for the spring for this one…  VV Link

Best Prodigous Pies:  Aron’s. (48th st. btw. 5+6th) I went to Aron’s for the falafel, and it was not that great… but the meat pies (or samsa) they sell outside are delicious.  Apparently the Village Voice agrees.  VV Link

A picture of the pies, and the best place for Okinawan food, rabbit, chicken and korean noodles… all after the jump.

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Profile: Midtown Lunch’er “Justin Fox”

Yesterday we wrote about our favorite noodle spot in Midtown… Menchanko-Tei.  So in honor of that, we present to you Justin Fox, a Fortune Magazine Editor at Large, and ramen obsessed Midtown Lunch’er who is just as big a fan of the Menachanko as we are:

Name: Justin Fox

 28  42 (He probably would have wanted us to leave that typo up)

At Large Editor & Writer (He wrote about us a few weeks ago on his blog: The Curious Capitalist)

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Fortune Magazine

Favorite Kind of Food:
Japanese (or home-cooking)

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Sandwiches (Editor’s Note:  That may sound crazy to most Midtown Lunch’ers who exists on sandwiches, but I’m right there with Justin on this one… unless it’s Bahn Mi.  I’m all about the Asian sandwich!)

Favorite Place to Eat Lunch in Midtown: The Menchanko Soup @ Menchanko-Tei

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often:  I go to Sapporo a lot, but can’t say it’s “too often.” The Time & Life
cafeteria, maybe. But having worked for a couple of years in Birmingham,
Alabama, where I ate lunch four days out of five at the same “meat-and-three”
restaurant a block from the office, I’m really not going to complain. (Although
I do kinda miss that restaurant.)

Place you discovered on Kati Roll

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?  Tokyo… and I think it’s pretty clear why.

Anything else you’d like to add?  Midtown Lunch has changed my life (or at the very least it has made me a little fatter)

A new Midtown Japanese, our controversial favorite Ramen outside of Midtown, and how you can be the next profiled Midtown Lunch’er… after the jump.

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In my quest to search out the best Ramen in Midtown, I feel like I’ve gone backwards… Sapporo was first, because it was right next to my office building.  A longtime favorite of the area, the Miso Ramen is delicious- but the quality of the ingredients (especially the pork) I found to be less than great.  I followed that up with Men Kui Tei, which I found to be a notch above Sapporo.  The Miso Ramen was also delicious, but the pork and other ingredients in the soup were of a much higher quality.  It probably worked out better this way- because if I had gone to Menchanko-Tei first, I might not have enjoyed the other two as much…

Menchanko-Tei has two locations in Midtown (one on 45th btw. Lex & 3rd and the other on 55th btw. 5+6th) which have a few differences, but are essentially the same.  They both have a small front room with a bar, and they both have a second small room… the one on 55th is in the back, the one on 45th is an upstairs balcony.  Much like Sapporo & Men Kui Tei, you have to get there early or you are going to wait.  By 12:30pm, both locations are full.

But enough about the similarities.  The differences that set Menchanko-Tei above the fray, more food porn and the +/-, after the jump…

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Last Chance for Huaraches… Midtown Links… and the end of the week wrap up

Sometimes on Fridays I like to recommend a place for lunch outside of Midtown for people looking for a weekend excursion.  The kind of place you wished you worked next to…  (A few weeks ago, it was Otafuku in the East Village).   So many people complain about not being able to find good Mexican food in New York City, and while Pampano Taqueria is ok, it’s far from being a foodie destination.  My new mecca for Central & South American food in NYC is the Ballfields in Red Hook… a line of stands circling a soccer field, serving amazing, freshly made food from Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, and Ecuador (just to name a few of the countries represented.)  Originally set up just to feed hungry ball players, it has now become a genuine food destination for huaraches (pictured below), ceviche, pupusas, tacos, tamales, empenadas, roasted corn (drenched in butter, cheese and red chili pepper), and so much more. 

I mention it, because according to one of the vendors, this weekend is the last weekend before most of the stalls pack up for the winter… a few will remain, but this is your last chance to get the full on experience. 

More info, and directions to the Ballfields, PLUS Midtown links about stuff you’ll definitely want to know about, and the end of the week wrap up- after the jump…

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Midtown Cart News…. Pizza, BBQ & Sausage Edition

This Sunday is the Vendy Awards, and in light of that fact, here’s some news about Midtown Carts that you might be interested in:

1.  The guy in the Jiannetto’s Pizza Truckon 47th btw. Park & Madison told me on Tuesday that the truck that used to be on Park and  51st will be returning in the next week and a half.  Look for it next Friday or Monday to be back… no word on the whether the truck that crashed was fixed, or they bought a new one.

2.  For those of you looking for your BBQ fix at one of the three Midtown Daisy May’s BBQ carts, you may have been very disappointed this week.  Two of the three Midtown carts have been packed up and stored away for the winter (the one on Park & 47th and the one on 55th btw. 6+7th).  The one on 49th btw. 6+7th will remain open… (thankfully it’s the one outside my building!).  Look for more carts to pop up in the spring.  (For those of you Downtown, the Wall St. cart is still open as well.)

Finally, we saved the most shocking news for after the jump… best not to scare the young children.  It’s terrible, and it involves last year’s Vendy Award winner for best cart…

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How many sick days do I have left? It’s a good day for some Ramen…

It’s been over four months since I started this food blog, and in all that time I’ve never once taken a sick day.  So figuring I get 5 sick days a year, pro-rated for a little over half a year (since I started this in June), means I probably have 3 sick days to use between now and the end of the year… so I’m using one today.  I’ve been feeling like crap this week, and there’s nothing better to eat when you’re sick then a big hot bowl of ramen.  Sapporo is good, and Men Kui Tei is great, but my new favorite in Midtown is the Menchanko at Menchenko-Tei (with two locations… one on 45th btw. Lex. & 3rd, and one on 55th btw. 5+6th). 


I went to the one on 45th on Monday, and in my haze of oncoming sickness I forgot my camera… so you’ll have to settle for this crappy picture taken on my phone.  I promise to go back and give you a full +/- (with real pictures) of this great Japanese noodle place.  If you can’t wait… feel free to check either one out for yourself- you definitely won’t be disappointed.  The jury is still out on it’s ability to cure the common cold…