Gourmet 53 is One of Those Places I Should Have Mentioned Years Ago
About 2 and a half years ago, when I first ventured into the basement food court of the building on 3rd btw. 52+53rd to write about Fusion Grills (a typical Chinese/Japanese food court establishment), I got loads of emails recommending its neighbor Gourmet 53. It might look like a typical generic Midtown deli, people would tell me, but it’s a really good deal- and the food is great. Most people recommended their coconut shrimp special (what can I say, the longtime readers know me so well!) and even though I put it off for way too long- I finally made to Gourmet 53 last week to see if all the hype was warranted.
What can I say? I love coconut shrimp. I don’t know if it can be directly traced to my wild Bar Mitzvah attending days of 1989, but irony aside (how do you serve shellfish at a Bar Mitzvah?) I freakin’ love coconut shrimp. So sweet. So crunchy. So delicious. Gourmet 53 offers them as a lunch special every day, and $6.95 gets you the shrimp plus salad and fries. As if that wasn’t enough (dayenu) they throw in a canned soda, your choice of jello or fruit- and…
A cookie! Are you shitting me? Free jello and a soda was exciting enough. But a cookie also? And all of it for less money that you would spend on a turkey sandwich at Lenny’s. Gourmet 53 could be the greatest place of all time. At the very least, it’s the best non-cheap-Chinese-food option I’ve ever encountered at a mall food court. (Bourbon chicken counts as cheap Chinese food, fyi.)
You only get 6 shrimp, and they are butterflied to make them look bigger, but after you add the adequate fries, salad, jello, cookie and soda- you’re not leaving hungry. It comes with mayo based-thousand island type-tartar style dipping sauce that I used a few times- but not every time. Sometimes you just want to taste that sweet crunchy coconut. I really liked the salad too, not because I like salad or this was necessarily a great one, but because they put it on top of the fries- so as you poke down with your fork you can’t help but pick up a fry a or two with your greens. I like it!
I know there is plenty more to like about this place aside from the coconut shrimp, and tips on when to go to avoid the lines, etc. So if you are a fan, feel free to put your recommendations in the comments. And to all those who have been telling me about Gourmet 53 all these years… I’m sorry it took me so long. I’m stupid. You’re smart. I was wrong. You were right. You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re very good-looking. I’m… not… attractive. And to the rest of you coconut shrimp loving MLers… what are you waiting for? Check out Gourmet 53 sooner rather than later. Don’t make the same mistake I made…
Gourmet 53, Food Court in the Basement of 875 3rd Ave. (btw. 52+53rd), (212) 223-8481