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.
Occupation: 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 email@example.com