Profile: Midtown Lunch’er “Florence”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. This week it’s Florence, a publishing something or other, who loves Cantonese food, hates lunchables, and is looking for a good bowl of matzoh ball soup.

Name: Florence


Publishing (and proprietor of the blog “Eating Well on $7 A Day“)

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
55th & Broadway

Favorite Kind of Food:
I’m tempted to say “anything good,” but for the sake of specificity (and readability), will say Cantonese, because I don’t get sick of it. And even more specifically: braised tofu, silken on the inside, with a crispy exterior. (A note: This is likely because I grew up on Chinese food, and am very experienced with its myriad of possibilities. Perhaps if I had grown up with something else, it’d have been something else. Cultural relativism and all that.) But really, anything good!

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
Bland and tasteless prepackaged food, particularly the variety adults maliciously feed to children, i.e. Lunchables, fat free turkey and a Kraft single on Wonderbread, etc. Also adult equivalents, like Healthy Choice microwaveables. Or tofu used repulsively: tofu-dogs, etc. See above: tofu can be so great but only when NOT manipulated into a completely unnatural form! Also, I find McDonald’s all-white meat chicken nuggets offensive. Bring back the dark meat! (Though not the little bits of unchewable tendon.)

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
,The $9 lamb kofta kebab lunch special at Ariana Afghan Kebab (on 9th Ave. btw. 52+53rd). Flavorful, subtly-spiced, tender, and just-right portions. And I love that slightly sour yogurt dressing – mouth-puckeringly tasty. Oms/b(on 45th btw. Lex+3rd): Ate here when I was an intern at another publishing house in Midtown East. I miss it so! I usually go for the Special Set, which comes with an appetizer, seaweed soup, and three rice balls for $6.50 (Editor’s Note: That price may have gone up since you worked there). If I’m very hungry, I’ll add another rice ball, a la carte, to my meal (my favorites: shrimp tempura, eel, lobster salad, and spicy tuna.) Five Guys Burger(on 55th btw. 5+6th): I grew up in California, and this, more than any other burger place in New York, reminds me of In-n-Out — thin, double-stacked patties, a greasy, truly fast-food, but yummy, not-bland burger. I like the fact that the regular “hamburger” and “cheeseburger” default to two patties, while the “little” versions contain one. And the fries are crispy and plentiful — I usually go for the Cajun, for a little spice. And finally (the inevitable): 53rd and 6th Halal Chicken and Rice, winner of the infamous Midtown Lunch blind taste test! It is, as everybody says, so good, and cheap to boot.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? When in East Midtown, it was Toasties East, which was reliably decent, but never interesting. Now, it’s bringing leftovers from home and eating in the cafeteria, though I really can’t complain about anything but the lack of ambience: it’s a money-saving option, and if I do my job right the night before, leftovers are not just tolerated, but welcomed. If I mess up, then, well…

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Sapporo(on 49th btw. 6+7th) tasty, comforting, and well-portioned! (Though the recent Sapporo post has made me want to investigate Menchanko Tei and Men Kui Tei). I’ve also been meaning to check out Café Edison(on 47th btw. Bway+8th) for some good Matzoh Ball soup.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I was going to go with Chinatown — under $5 lunch specials, and the #1 Saigon banh mi! — but realized the scope of the question allowed for an even freer range of imagination. But being anti-metaphysical, I’m still going to stay within my material experience — I worked in Hong Kong for a summer, and the lunch options there are unbelievable! I especially loved having brunch-y food for lunch (steamed noodles with dried shrimp and scallions, doused in sweet soy sauce, and congee with salted pork and preserved egg), but the street food was great too (my go-to was tomato beef over egg-fried rice).

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Anyone have suggestions as to where to go on Ninth Ave.? As I’m in West Midtown, I’ve been exploring the west-west side, which seems to have some great places (like Afghan Kebab) — any specific recommendations?

Alright… for those of you who always complain that the Midtown Lunch boundaries don’t extend to 9th Ave., here is your chance.  Have at 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


  • We’re also located on the western boundaries of Midtown Lunch, so I’m pleased this profile has opened the door to suggestions in our neck of the woods. The delivery menus (I’m in a business where I cannot get out at lunchtime) on my desk showing the most wear are: Pro Deli (thanks to Midtown Lunch), Sapphire (the Columbus Circle-vicinity Indian features a box lunch to go priced at $7.95) and Zenith, the Zen Palate knock-off for decent vegan (read: mock-meat) lunch boxes priced from $7.95 to $9.95.

    Sapphire Indian Cuisine: 1845 Bdway (betw. 60 and 61), 212.245.4444

    Zenith Vegetarian Cuisine: 311 W. 48, 212.262.8080

  • Pam Real Thai on 49th and 9th is my favorite thai spot.

  • Eatery, Vynl, Lucky Burger, Oyishi are all my 9th ave faves. Along with Golden Chicken and ribs, but Golden is rather south on 43rd st.

  • I dig:

    Wondee Siam on 9th Ave (btwn. 52nd and 53rd) is my favorite thai on 9th.

    Ocha on 46th (btwn. 8th and 9th) has a decent bang-for-your-buck lunch special… it’s just over ML pricing for their sushi lunch: 7 pieces, a california roll, and soup or salad for $10.20 (although this price may have gone up).

    I also dig Lucky’s Famous burgers also on 52nd between 8th and 9th (although I’m sure others will disagree with me, as the cheeseburger just might be the one truly subjective joy in life).

  • There’s a good Turkish place (shawarma, falafel) on 9th at 40th, and of course 99-cent pizza around 41st. It’s out of Midtown range, but if you want an In&Out fix, check out Blue 9 on 3rd bet. 12th/13th. (Hint: ‘Medieval style’='Animal style’)

  • Venture further west! Sullivan Street Bakery (47th between 10th and 11th aves) has awesome sandwiches and pizza (the thin crust, room temp, Roman-style variety). Their PMB sandwich — pancetta, mango & basil — is one of the greatest, most glorious combinations man has ever designed.

  • Soul fixin’s in 34th and 9th, – Soul Foodm Really good fried chicken
    GoGo Curry – 38th and 8th, not exactly on 9th, but close, thick japanese curry.
    Noodle House – 36th and 8th – between 8th and 9th, closer to 8th. Everyone in there speaks Cantonese or Mandarin.

  • Yo Flo

    You can get your beloved dark meat at Piece of Chicken on 45 & 9 – just specify “thighs” when you order…

    Speaking of thighs, where’s Mamacita?

  • I love Pam Real Thai on 49th and 9th and their sister restaurant on 47th and 9th is just as good and right across the street from me. I also really like Chelsea Grill when I’m starving – they have a ridiculously huge turkey or everything burger for around $12 – and it even comes with curly fries! Eatery on 53rd(?) and 9th has great brunch food, but I still haven’t found too many great cantonese places in the area yet (as my parents are from HK as well)

  • Are you, or have you ever been married to Woody Allen?

  • DocChuck is kinda busy right now (trust me, I’m involved) but he has seen your picture (and oddly enough, it was just a few seconds later that my services were engaged, if such things impress you) and I am sure he’ll be by soon to make his traditional “verbal pass” at you. I wish he’d take off his leg-mounted catheter bag off before he starts. Ugh. His wife is out of town for a few days selling goods made with real pet hair, so if you like Applebee’s, you could luck out with a free meal or two with him if you play your cards right.

  • Ya nailed it Rudy – damn, I was wracking my brain to remember where I saw that hat

    Maybe Flo has the vest, tie & baggy pants in her closet too

  • tehuitzingo on 10th ave – some of the best tacos in Manhattan

  • lmao @ the Mia Farrowing of the precedings…

  • I love Ariana. Keep meaning to go back there.

    I second the rec for Chelsea Grill at 9th bet. 46th and 47th. They have great burgers and reasonable appetizers.

    Most favorite thing over in that area, though, is the Daisy May’s mother ship on 46th and 11th. God, I love it so.

  • @ Rudy, I like how wayne made that from a racist joke into an annie hall joke. He’s a class act. I’m almost willing to forgive all those comments about ‘fatties’ yesterday.

  • yes, define that.

  • Bring back the mechanically seperated kibbles and bits chicken nuggets at McDonald’s??? I mean its one thing to like dark meat chicken but those things were from another planet and awful. If I were to bring back one thing from 80s McDonald’s it would be the french fries fried in beef lard which they used to do and were insanely good or the McDLT.

  • I think people are trying to conflate Soon-Yi, Diane Keaton’s character in “Annie Hall” (mysteriously named Annie Hall), and Mia Farrow. Hmm, I’d kind of like to conflate them myself.

  • did someone say “inflate”?

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.