PROFILED: Midtown Lunch’er “Kayoko”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. Today’s Lunch’er is the contributor/moderator of one of my favorite blogs- , and it just so happens she also works in Midtown East.  Actually that’s an understatement.  She works in Midtown Waaaaaay East, and since that is out of bounds for me, I figured I’d let her recommend a few places for those of you stuck in the eastern most part of our wasteland… 

Name: Kayoko


Film marketer and programmer by day, food blogger by night ( Professional eater all day, everyday

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
Japan Society, Midtown way east (UN area)

Favorite Kind of Food:
Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese

Least Favorite Kind of Food:

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Hands down Shih Lee (on 45th btw. 1+2nd). It’s a little casual Taiwanese/Chinese place– you get in line and “pick & choose your meal” for $7. Two young brothers run it, and there are lots of regulars from the UN. It’s the best! Their pork and pickled cabbage noodle soup is the best I’ve had in midtown, and their sauteed green beans are addictive.  Also, there is a deli on the corner of 1st and 49th that makes the best BLT with avocado.

The “go-to” lunch place you and your co-workers eat at too often: Oms/B for rice balls (45th btw. Lex+3rd) and Amish Market salad bar in a hurry (45th btw. 2+3rd), Ise for comfort food (49th btw. Lex+3rd), Pampano Taqueria for a long lunch (3rd Ave. btw. 49+50th). Aburiya Kinnosuke (45th btw. 2+3rd) or Sakagura on payday (43rd btw. 2+3rd).

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch (if any)? Bulgogi cart all the way!!! Better that I work too far to go often- I would seriously get lunch there everyday. Marinated beef in a hotdog bun? Only in New York- BRILLIANT!  (You should know that they’ve replaced the buns with croissants now -zach)

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Tokyo, no doubt. I could pay at a machine, get ramen ticket, slurp, chew and be out in 5 minutes. How is NY not in on this? If we’re talking NY, I wish I worked near Chinatown. Banh mi and Great NY Noodle Town everyday!

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers?: Where can I get a good burrito in Midtown East on the cheap (besides Chipotle)?

Uh… where can you get a good burrito anywhere in NYC?  Good luck with that…  anybody got a rec, feel free to post it in the comments.  And as always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, or you’d like to nominate somebody in your office, email me at


  • Between 43rd and 44th on Lexington inside inside the Equinox Fitness Club is City Chow Café. They’re linked with Bread Market Cafe so you can get similiar burrittos there. Only downside is the last time i went they didn’t have plantains for the burritto but it is on their menu. *shrug*

  • What’s Amish Market salad bar? Has this place been profiled before? Sounds interesting.

  • The Amish Market salad bar doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Amish. It does have a nice selection of fresh and reasonably tasty food for $7/lb. And a grocery section.

  • Good food – some can be a bit pricey though depending on what you’re getting…

  • Kayoko, you mentioned Pampano Taqueria as a lunch spot, tried to burritos there? Personally never have, but their ingredients otherwise are pretty fresh, so they might make a mean burrito ($8 doesn’t seem too bad).

  • Qdoba on 34th and 2nd ave

  • Burrito at Pampano is excellent – probably the best in midtown I have had. I usually go with steak. All the ingredients are very fresh and the meat quality is excellent. Also it burrito at Zocalo in Grand Central is very good – lots of melted cheese and avocado stuffed in there. Little pricey though.

    Aside from the Amish Market salad bar – which has some more upscale items vs. what you usually find in midtown – they also have a hot bar with a couple of meat selections. Also I think the deli at the Amish market is one of the better delis in the city. Fresh baked bread – quality meat and cheese selections – good condiments. Haven’t seen Amish profiled yet????

  • How could you not like brunch?!?

  • ugh the thing with the Amish Market is that it’s probably one of the only places in the area that carries fine(r) meats and produce that isn’t depressing but boy, do you pay dearly.

    I’d rather go one stop on the 4,5 and shop at Trader Joe’s, or even Whole Foods for that matter.

  • NYC will have good Burritos when Baja Fresh finally get’s in here.

  • Yeah, what is the deal with brunch? It’s not really a type of food.. it’s a “time of day” so-to-speak. There are Mexican and Chinese restaurants that serve “brunch” which mostly consists of their normal fare, just served between the hours of 10:30 and 4pm with a cocktail included. Is that so wrong?

  • I only eat at shih lee when I am running out of time for lunch.

  • Baja Fresh does not make good burritos. No one in NYC makes a proper SF Mission style burrito, sadly. I miss Papalote, Pancho Villa, and Farolito SOOO much.

  • A place that DOES NOT make a good burrito (or anything else) is Maui Taco on 5th. DO NOT go there, disgusting food, watered-down “salsas” and unhelpful staff.

  • Try the burrito at Ah! Chihuahua! on 53rd between 1st and 2nd.

  • Thanks for the tip, Eater!

  • Pampano! It always seems strangely underrated to me on ML, though it was my favorite when I worked in midtown east (and judging from the lines I’m not alone in this.)

  • la paloma is the place my coworkers always go for burritos and i find it to be pretty decent and cheap. it’s on 9th ave and 45th. might be too far, though maybe they’d deliver to that area.

  • Tell me about missing the SF mission burrito- Mexican food in NY is just excrutiating! Thanks for all these suggestions, I will definitely check out Chihuahua and this mysterious Equinox burrito- who would’ve known? Great tips. Pampano is awesome food but forget about grabbing a quick lunch- the line is always so ridiculously long! I didn’t know about their burritos though, as I always get their tacos.

    And don’t miss the Amish Market salad bar if you work around the UN! It is a bit pricey, but they roast and grill their vegetables quite well. They also make better soup than Hale and Hearty around the corner.

    Bulgogi sandwich is now on a croissant???? WTF???? I saw that a while ago but thought it was a joke! How is it? Anyone?

  • This is a non-Midtown tip, but several people have asked about SF style burritos. My friends from SF like two places here – The Great Burrito on Amst & 79th and La Taqueria in Park Slope. Apparently the burritos aren’t exactly SF style, but they come close. I’m hooked on the mole sauce at both places.

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