Out of Bounds: Uncle Marky’s Organics & Spoons in a Tale of Two Wraps
When I was in Bali, I fell in love with a little thing called tempeh. A cousin of tofu, tempeh is a “cake” made of whole soybeans that has been fermented. Sounds delicious right? Well in Bali, where they sliced it thin, fried it and then sauteed it in Indonesian sauces- it was! (Photo to the left posted to Flickr by rheanna2) Now I don’t think I have to tell anyone who reads this site, that I am far from a vegetarian (unless somebody decides to classify roast pork as a vegetable)- but I can appreciate good vegetarian food, and when I saw that the Organic Harvest Cafe on 53rd btw. 2+3rd had an “Indonesian Wrap” made with tempeh, I decided it was worth the extra half an avenue walk outside of Midtown Lunch boundaries to check it out.
The Indonesian Wrap (PLUS a bonus Bulgogi Wrap at a little place called “Spoons”) after the jump…
The Organic Harvest Cafe is a great find for anyone looking for organic, vegetarian or vegan food for lunch. It’s a little expensive for a take out lunch place, with most sandwiches and salads priced around $10, the veggie burgers being around $9, and the entrees being $12 and up, but when you consider the ingredients, people interested in this kind of food will probably not mind paying the extra money.
When I got there, I discovered that they had changed the name of the place to “Uncle Marky’s Organics” and raised the prices! I was disappointed to find that my Indonesian Wrap was now $10.15 and out of the Midtown Lunch price range- but after walking that far, I wasn’t leaving without some damn fermented soybean caked wrapped in a tortilla!
The place is tiny, with a few seats at a bar- but most people take the food to go. I ordered my wrap, and watched “Uncle Marky” run around taking orders, cutting desserts and packaging up food to go. For a few minutes I felt like I was back in L.A. as I listened to an “aspiring actress” regale some guy with some ridiculous casting story, as she waited for her organic salad (Urth Cafe West anyone?). Oh joy! In the time I spent waiting for my wrap, I pondered whether healthy food is really worth the hassle of listening to the kind of idiots who frequent healthy restaurants…
Anyway, back to the food… the wrap came with tempeh, mango, brown rice and steam greens. For $10.15 it wasn‘t that big, and I couldn‘t taste the coconut curry sauce at all. In an effort to make it healthier, the tempeh is baked in big chunks- making it not nearly as tasty as when you slice it thin and fry it. So overall the wrap was disappointing (for a person like me, not concerned about food being healthy and meatless). If you love tempeh, and are looking for healthy food, you will probably like it more than I did.
But the trip was not an entire wash… next door I discovered Spoons, a similar type take out set up (with a few seats) that served salads, sandwiches, wraps and entrees. But the interesting part about the place is that it’s run by a Korean family- so on the menu was… a Bulgogi Wrap! I returned yesterday, to check out this new wrap discovery and was slightly more pleased with the results. For $7.25, the wrap was about the same size as Uncle Marky‘s (on the smallish size), but the “bulgogi” was pretty tasty. I put it in quotes because it was more like sirloin strips, marinated in bulgogi sauce, than the thin chopped up slices of meat you would get at an authentic Korean restaurant. The meat was pretty tender though, and while the whole thing was a little dry (it needed some sort of sauce for the rice), the flavor was pretty right on.
It was basically like a Korean’ish Steak Wrap, and for $7.25 a little lighter on the wallet than the Uncle Marky‘s Wrap- although the menu had the price at $8.95, making me think that the prices at this place are a little screwy. The printed menus didn‘t match either of the two signs in the restaurant (which also didn‘t match each other). And I’m sure there’s even a different set of prices on Seamless Web (they do a lot of delivery orders). Even so, the place seems pretty popular, and I’ve heard they do a mean Salmon wrap. They also have some other interesting sounding dishes, that I would have tried had it not been for the price (like the $13.95 Spicy Homemade Bulgogi Noodles, and the $10.95 Spicy Homemade Shrimp Dumpling Rice Bowl).
For anybody who works in the area, 53rd btw. 2+3rd is actually a mini treasure trove of possible out of lunches… In addition to Spoons & Uncle Marky‘s Organics, there’s is also a hip little thai place (LTK), a hip little Indian place, Hakata Sushi to go, an authentic looking Japanese Ramen place (which was definitely out of Midtown Lunch price range) and a sit down Chinese place. Not bad for this out of bounds block of Midtown…
Spoons, 235 E. 53rd St. (btw. 2+3rd), 212-371-3111
Uncle Marky‘s Organics, 235 E. 53rd St. (btw. 2+3rd), 212-421-6444