PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Janelle”

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 meet Janelle, a saxophone playing administrative assistant who might run my new favorite blog: Foodlebrities. Don’t ask, just go check it out… after you read about her love of spicy pickles below.

Name: Janelle

Age: 25

Occupation: Administrative Assistant and Saxophone Player (with a token blog mention)

Where in Midtown do you Work?: 41st & Madison Ave.

Favorite Kind of Food: I’m partial to anything that packs a lot of sodium so Udon, cheap Chinese buffets, Mexican, bento boxes, and anything with pickles or excess vinegar. And, of course, bacon!

Least Favorite Kind of Food: I’m not a fan of the licorice taste in green curries or fermented bean curd (Go Go Curry failed to convince me with a topping coupon). Other than that, I’ll eat it up!

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: The Braised Ma “Paul” Tofu w/ Chili Minced Pork or the Pork Belly w/ Chili Leeks from Szechuan Gourmet (39th b/w 5th and 6th), the Reuben from Homefront Deli (41st b/w Mad and Park), Rollies from Old Bridge Deli R.I.P. (Lex b/w 40th and 41st), Falafel from Olympic Pita (38th b/w 5th and 6th), Chaat from Indus Express (48th b/w 5th and 6th), double-cooked pork bento box lunch special for $4.25 from Café Zaiya (41st b/w 5th and Mad), and the shrimp ceviche from El Ricon Del Sabor (47th b/w 5th and 6th).

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? We all frequent Café Zaiya, Yagura and Chiyoda Sushi (all on 41st btw. Mad+5th), which I doubt could ever be eaten “too often.” I’m also a frequenter of the vegetable dumpling udon at Café Charlie (39th b/w 5th and Madison) and the sushi chef in our cafeteria on Wednesdays. My building also has a strange abundance of Café Metro and Food Exchange sacks, which I will never understand.

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Khodiar Lunch Services (6th Ave. b/w 37th and 38th), Sukhadia (45th b/w 5th and 6th), 100% Halal & Healthy (55th and Park), El Rey Del Sabor Cart (60th and 3rd), Papa Perrone’s Pizza Truck (55th b/w Mad and Park), every street meat vendor from the Street Meat Challenge (thanks for filling my month of September with so many options!), Kati Roll (39th b/w 5th and 6th), Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart (46th b/w 5th and 6th), the Tamale Lady at the Mexian Embassy (39th b/w Park and Mad), 99 Cent Fresh Pizza (43rd b/w Lex and 3rd) and Menchenko Tei! A friend and I resolved to try a new ML spot every week, which has been going on for nearly a year to much success. Every ML Sandwich has been a treat!

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Based solely on my frequent trips to Café Zaiya for bento boxes, sushi, Curry Pan, and various dishes I can’t pronounce or identify the ingredients, I’d have to say Japan. I doubt the combination of pickled vegetables or curried anything would ever tire me…

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? I’d like to find the ultimate lunch that combines both spicy and pickled flavors. After having the good fortune to help with the McClure’s pickle stand at the Brooklyn Flea several weeks back, I’ve been craving the Hot & Spicy Pickle almost constantly and would like to find a meal equivalent that doesn’t kill me for lack of nutrition. Any suggestions?

Well, considering how much you love Szchuan Gourmet, have you tried their szechuan pickles? Exactly what you are looking for, although I guess it doesn’t qualify as a complete lunch. For that, maybe you should check out the shredded pork and Chinese pickle noodle soup at Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th). It was made pretty famous by a New York Times article (which still sits in the window today.) The pickle flavor is not super intense, and it isn’t super spicy either… but I have a feeling you’ll still enjoy it.  Though neither of these pickle recs will make you pucker like a McClure’s pickle…

Anybody else have a suggestion? Put it in the comments… and as always if you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


  • Where do you get your Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? I haven’t had any since I moved to New York?

    Hing Won’s pickle noodle soup is overrated. It’s good, but almost everything at Hing Won is pretty good, and the pickle noodle soup doesn’t really stand out to me.

  • Hey Dan,

    I understand your pain! Isn’t the lack of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in NYC upsetting?

    I found a place in Williamsburg, just outside the Bedford L stop at N. 7th and Bedford (SE corner). They sell 99 cent bags of Flamin’ Hot. I haven’t looked too much further since this is pretty close to where I live, but I think the key is to look through the delis rather than the grocers. Good luck!

  • Hell yeah, flammin hot cheetos are great. Man I love those. Probably good that they are not readily available. I don’t need more junk food in my life.

  • Just do what I do, take a bottle of Tabasco, Siracha or other hot sauce, throw a few dashes into a bag of Cheetos, shake it real good and enjoy. Not quite the same but better than trekking all over 5 boroughs looking for a bag.

  • What a beautiful young woman, and lovely picture. Janelle you appear to be a very insighful and articulate young lady. And to all you losers out there who feel the need to post negative comments on a food blog- get a fucking life.

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