PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Casa”
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 the final profiled luncher of 2008… meet Casa a “training developer” who seems to like every kind of food but durian.
Occupation: Training Developer /occasional wanna-be chef broadcaster
Where in Midtown do you Work?: 49th & 7th Ave.
Favorite Kind of Food: Vietnamese food (pho, spring roll, etc), Indian, Thai, Korean, Mexican/Tex-Mex, southern food (BBQ ribs, chicken fried steak, fried okra, mash ‘tators and gravy). These are the types of food that I enjoy and are in my rotation frequently (except for southern food; I haven’t found a decent place in NYC that does southern food well). I’m also a fan of desserts and have these horrid “cake” cravings around 2 PM that drive me out of my office regardless of how the weather is to search for a slice of moist and crumbly cake with a creamy layer of frosting that is not too sweet/too buttery. Then I settle for a Crumbs cupcake after I realize I’m in Midtown.
Least Favorite Kind of Food: Durian, mustard (it’s not a food per se, but I despise it), fermented fish, shrimp paste. My mom scarred me for life when she cooked food with fermented fish or shrimp paste when I was growing up. The smell lingered for two weeks in the house! As for mustard, I don’t know why, but it reminds me too much of durian. I think it’s the color.
Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: Café Duke (on 51st btw. 6+7th) for their soon tofu or ramen ( I know it’s way overpriced, but I love ramen. If I can bring in my own ramen to cook, I would in a heartbeat), papri or samosa chaat at Indus Express (on 48th btw. 5+6th), Thai coconut soup and mushroom bisque from Au Bon Pain, and waffle fries from my company’s cafeteria. There are many places that I also want to try, but during my first visit to NYC, I ate a chicken kebab from a vendor in Times Square and got violently ill that night. I was a tourist then, and now I’ve been enlightened: don’t eat from shady street vendors in Times Square. So I’ll leave the street meat for the others and just salivate and admire their stomachs of steel from afar.
“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Café Duke – I head straight to the back for soon tofu, spicy beef ramen, and sometimes their bibimbap. Teriyaki boy (on 7th Ave. btw. 48+49th). This is a hit/miss place for me though. There were times where I got more chicken fat than chicken (yuck!), and I’d stay away from the beef there. I got their beef bowl, and it was actually beef fat with some meat on it. So far, the udon soup has been satisfying when I’m too lazy to walk to Café Duke.
Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Thank you Midtown Lunch for introducing me to chaat! I take an occasional trip to Indus Express for my dose of chaat. I first stumbled onto ML when I was searching for falafel and found House of Pita (now closed). Other places that I discovered through ML: the crepes from the Crepe Lady at CyberCafe (on 49th btw. B’way+8th), Spice Fusion (on 8th Ave. btw. 47+48th) for their boxed lunch special, Aoki (on 48th btw. 7+8th) for their sushi (great deal and very fresh), Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th) before it was a buffet by the pound, the Jamaican Dutchy (on 51st & 7th) but I’ve only had their beef patties, Café Zaiya (on 41st btw. Mad+5th), the Wafels and Dinges Truck, and Woorjip (on 32nd btw. 5th+B’way). I’ve been a fan since my first falafel.
If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I haven’t travel much so my dream location would be Vietnam. I was there this summer, and I ate like I’ve never eaten before. The best food is the ones sold from the street vendor. If you’re asking me why I would eat street food there and not here in Midtown, I guess I have to say that there isn’t a lot of choices in Vietnam. Either eat or starve. So I ate, and I’m glad I did. The food is great, and I’m still fine! The portions are small, which means I can sample a lot of food in one sitting.
Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? I want to know where I can get some tasty pasta dish without it tasting like Chef Boyardee. A place with lasagna would be great too.
Got your own suggestion for Casa? Put 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 firstname.lastname@example.org