PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Nathan”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er to get his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. Today it’s Nathan, a Financial Analyst who after 5 years of toiling away in Midtown is moving to Philly, and wanted his Midtown Lunch moment in the sun before he takes off.  (Oh, and yes- that is him posing in front of Morimoto.)

Name: Nathan


Financial Analyst

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
For the last five years, I have toiled diligently between 50th+57th Streets and between 7th+Madison Avenues

Favorite Kind of Food:
Anything Tasty (see below)

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
1) Burrittos – something about the double-starch whammy of rice and tortilla just does not sit well with my palate, 2) Caesar Salad – especially when my co-worker orders it as a “healthy” option, 3) Average or not-fresh sushi

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
1) The vegetarian lunchbox at Bay Leaf Indian Brasserie (on 56th btw. 5+6th.) Since the dishes rotate on a daily basis, you never know what you are going to get!) 2) The Pad Si Ew noodles, Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli and Thai Iced Tea at Wondee Siam II (9th Ave. btw. 53+54th) 3) Beef Tendon with Hot Sauce from Grand Sichuan (on 9th ave., now closed) 4) Swedish Meatballs, Truffle Frites and Homeade Lemonade from F&B Gudtfood (also now closed) 5) Grilled Tofu Steak with Lemongrass from Saigon 48 (48th btw. 7+8th) 6) Beef Empanada, Breaded Chicken with Yellow Rice and Beans from Sophie’s Cuban on 56th btw. 5+6th which has now Morphed Into Tina’s Restaurant, 7) Ramen and Gyoza at Sapporo (49th btw. 6+7th) or Men Kui Tai (56th btw. 5+6th), 8) Lentil or Lobster Bisque Soup at the Soupman (Multiple Locations). Oh- and pretty much everything on the menu at Izakaya Hagi (aka Sake Bar Hagi on 49th btw. 6+7th), but they are not open for lunch.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often?
I answer with “your co-workers” as the key phrase in the prompt: Blockheads, Chop’t Salad (WAY OVERPRICED), Delmonico Gourmet (and other similar generic delis), The Great American Health Bar, Mangia, Cafe Europa, The Pump Energy Kitchen, Hale and Hearty Soups

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Bon Appetit Pop Up Cafe (Now Gone), Pro Korean (56th btw. 5+6th), FIKA Swedish Espresso Bar (58th btw. 5+6th), Five Guys Burgers (55th btw. 5+6th), Go Go Curry (38th btw. 7+8th), Hallo Berlin Cart (54th & 5th)

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I have not been there yet, but Singapore with its mix of Asian cultures and its gauntlet of hawker stalls.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? One of my favorite dishes is Za Jiang Mein, the Chinese (and also Korean) answer to Spaghetti Bolognese, consisting
of noodles served with a salty black bean / ground meat sauce and garnished with raw vegetables. But I have had trouble finding this dish in New York City, let alone in Midtown. Anybody know of restaurants that feature this dish? Plus- I will be moving to Philadelphia for a few years. Now
that you have read about my favorite New York lunch haunts, do you have any tips on surviving lunchhour in Philadelphia?

So, I don’t know about Za Jiang Mein (the Chinese version) but we tackled the jjajangmyeon question a few weeks ago after I had an ok Korean version at Han Ah Reum (on 32nd btw. 5th+B’way.) There are some good suggestions in the comments of that post. Since then, I had a good (and cheap) version at Shanghai Mong on 32nd btw. 5+6th which I’ll be posting about soon.

As for the Philly thing, that’s a-whole-nother question. Anybody used to work in Philly (or currently work in Philly) and have good suggestions for Nathan? Feel free to post them 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


  • With out a doubt, the best place for lunch in Philly is the Reading Terminal Market. Dozens of different food vendors selling everything from Amish baked goods to Pad Thai. Speaking of which, the Thai stall is my favorite there. Last time I was there (3 years ago) $5 bought you a LARGE filet of grilled salmon over rice and steamed broccoli with your choice red or yellow curry sauce to top it off. But there are so many great choices there you can’t go wrong.

    My other favorite is El Fuego at 7th and Walnut. Huge Mission style burritos for about $7. They’re what Chipotle and Qdoba aspire to be but never quite can be.

  • Agreed on Reading Terminal.

    Otherwise, all I know is that since I left Philly, I haven’t been able to walk inside another Cosi, I was so sick of the place. Philly is/was oversaturated with Cosi.

  • Za Jiang Mein – 짜장면 – go to Hyo Dong Gak (효동각) at 35th st., between 5th and 6th. Don’t get the regular but get the loaded one. I think it’s under $10.

  • Long Tan, in Park Slope (196 Fifth Avenue, between Union & Berkley) does something they call “Broad Noodle w/Beef and Coriander” and describe as being like a Thai Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s rather different than what you’re describing, but it’s pretty good, regardless.

  • With respect to Hagi, i remember i used to go there around 5 years ago when it would be empty on Friday evenings. Now, after being featured on Bourdain’s show, it’s impossible to get seats, even on weekdays past midnight, and the prices have doubled. If you can get seats there, order the Satsuma Shoju (bottle) – it’s what the Japanese employees there order for themselves – it’s under $20 and enough for 2 people. Plus if you don’t finish, you can have the place keep the bottle for you.

  • Can’t wait to hear if any Lunch’ers have suggestions for decent Chinese zha jiang mian around here – Midtown or anywhere in the 5 boroughs, for that matter.

  • @JustNancy:

    Did you try the Egg Custard King in China town (Mott and Canal).
    I’m pretty sure they have it there, though my memory might be faulty.

    It’s pretty easy to get that at almost any noodle shop.

  • Thirding Reading Terminal Market. You could eat there at every meal for a year without repeat., and it would all be delicious. Philly has a decent Chinatown, but the only place I know of is a tiny vegetarian place (Cherry St. or King St. Vegetarian, maybe?), that as of 2 years ago had an all you can eat dim sum lunch for $10. There’s a food court near UPenn that’s okay, and the UPenn area is also famous for street carts.

  • agreed – shanghai mong is quite good.

  • As for the zha jiang mein, I’ve had a decent version many years ago at the hole in the wall chinese place on 32nd between 7th and 6th, right next to the Blarney Stone. I don’t even know if the restaurant is still there.

  • If you’re moving to Philly for a few years, I’m guessing you’ll probably be out by Wharton or Penn Law in University City. For lunches out that way, you can’t beat the trucks. There’s a Chinese truck at 38th & Locust that is outstanding (you can even call ahead to avoid the long waits), a vegetarians cart at 34th & Walnut that is surprisingly good, a falafel guy at 40th & Locust who is very very good.

    Beyond the trucks, check out Koch’s Deli at 43d & Locust for amazing sandwiches and surly service. There’s an Indian buffet that was supposed to be very good somewhere around 40th & Chestnut, but I never went.

    If you’re living in Center City, Reading Terminal at 11th & Filbert is amazing, as is APJ Texas Wieners on 13th Street just north of Market. Forget the crappy and over-hyped Pats and Genos for cheesesteaks — Jim’s on South Street is good, but the best is John’s Roast Pork all the way down on Snyder Avenue. Also good at John’s Roast Pork: The roast pork.

    For sit-down places, Philly’s got a great BYOB scene. My favorite was Dimitri’s at 3d & Catherine in Queen Village. They’ve got a Fitler Square location too at 24th & Pine which is pretty good, but the original is much better.

  • Nathan, that pose works better in front of a riced Honda Civic with coffee can tailpipe, huge-ass “performance” spoiler and purple undercarriage lighting, boyeeeeee

  • My dearest Nathan:

    Allow an older man (with several PhD’s if that means anything) to give you a piece of free advice.

    Many employers these days are “internet savvy.” They employ lower level flunctionaries to comb the internet in an effort to unearth unsavory information on those in their employ.

    A photo of a young “financial analyst” happily giving “gang signs,” (so-called) would be a motherlode for such a flunctionary. There may even be a bonus it it for them.

    For you, alas, perhaps no more bonus. Eating off filthy food carts because you have no other choice is no way to live your life.

    Something to think about, young man.

    By the way, I formally advise young people all the time in my capacity as a retired “educator.”

  • Chucky, At least young Nathan isn’t banned in the state of Arkansas from any usage of the internet whatsoever, as you are.Is that why you travel the country in your VW campervan?

    You Dipshit grit eating no-neck fuckwit.

    Oh, and thats not a gang sign, thats how Princeton post graduates count.

  • For your information, Mr. “McBagel” (a pseudonym, I bet), my wife and I travel the country in a LUXURY MOTORCOACH.

    I trust that it is more well-appointed than the basement you live in.

    Cheers, Chuck

  • I have no idea where to get good jhajyungmyun anymore… but my understanding of the dish is that the Chinese (Shanghai I think) version is spicy while the Korean is not.
    Oh well.

  • One of those no-neck monsters hit me with a hot buttered biscuit!

  • DDR, goodness, we’d heard gay superman had you shot.Welcome back to the loving MT fold.

    Actually,Chucky,I Do own a basement in Chelsea,London.

    I also own the 4 Floors above too.

    I’ll let you, as an educator, work out the value of a 8 bedroomed Georgian Town House in a very fasionable part of London.

    Ps. And a Shropshire 14th century Manor house.

  • Rudy, can I be your best friend?

    I’m a great cook, mix a good martini…. keep my mouth shut most of the time.. er, well, maybe not that.

  • troll fight!

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