PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Chef Geetika Khanna”

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 Geetika Khanna, a well known chef (formerly at Raga & Masala Cafe) who now operates the catering company “All Things Food”. She is also a cooking teacher and founder of the Indian Culinary Center, which offers Indian cooking classes on West 23rd Street. Oh, and she’s a bonafied Midtown Lunch’er who’s looking for some good fried chicken (and Korean food!)

Name: Geetika Khanna

Age: 40

Occupation: Chef/Instructor (and founder of the Indian Culinary Center)

Where in Midtown do you Work?: I live in midtown, in the East 50s.

Favorite Kind of Food: Mediterranean

Least Favorite Kind of Food: There’s no food I don’t like! I think I have eaten almost everything. I went on an African safari and ate every kind of animal they offered me — including snake. Though, there was one embarrassing moment. The Masai make a drink of milk and blood that they offer to you as a gesture of respect. It was pink and frothy and warm and I just couldn’t bring myself to drink it. I just couldn’t!

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: For Indian I like Kati Roll (on 39th btw. 5+6th). I had been going to the one downtown so I was really excited when they opened a branch in midtown. And, Apna Taj (on 55th btw. Lex+3rd) has cheap take out lunch boxes — they are $8 for the vegetable and $9 for the meat. Lately I have been all about fried chicken. A friend took me to Chicken House on 36th between Seventh and Eighth — it was amazing fried chicken. And then we tried the chicken at The Bastard Son on Eighth at 39th. The line was crazy but they had great fried chicken. That is something I am not going to cook at home. I’ve also been into Korean food lately — I love all the stuff they give you in the beginning — and the hot pots! I go to Taam Tov on West 47th for the tamarind and noodle soup they make. And, though it is out of the Midtown Lunch price range, when I want a splurge I go to Anthos on West 52nd. It is fancy without being too expensive. Midtown has a ton of chi chi places — but I don’t like to spend a ton of money to eat well.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? The Juan Valdez coffee shop on East 57th Street between Lex and Third. It is right near my house and I am there all the time. It is my “office.” My friends all know when I say I am at the office I am there. Stop by and say hello!

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Chicken House & Apna Taj

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I’d love to work in the West Village so I could be close to the Dosa Man in Washington Square. I just find him fascinating — and the dosa are great. Also, since right now I am into Korean food I’d love to work in the 30s near Korea Town. There would be some place new to try every day.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Yes! I’d love to get recommendations for more Korean places in midtown. This is pretty new to me and there are so many choices. What the ones I shouldn’t miss? Also, any and all fried chicken recommendations! If anyone makes fried chicken, I am there.

Korean food *and* fried chicken, huh?  What about KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN!?!? If you haven’t tried this stuff yet, you have to do it.  For now, I’d recommend Mad For Chicken (formerly Bon Chon, on 5th btw. 31+32nd), although Kyochon should be opening soon on 32nd and 5th.

Anybody else have a Korean food, or fried chicken recommendations for Geetika? Put it in the comments. And as always if you would like to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at




  • Arirang for arguably the most authentic Korean in K-town. Seoul Garden ain’t bad as well.

  • Yo Steve that is my line lol!

  • Baden Baden on 32nd street. I love their whole chicken, fried then baked in oven. I also love their signature spicy octopus with udon noodle.
    My current favorite korean lunch spot is Wonjo on 32nd street. very consistent and they don’t use too much msg(i don’t get that nasty headache after).

  • Hrm, an indian cooking class. I may just have to take that on :)

  • Goats, you snooze you lose.

  • Every animal? So you ate lion, elephant and giraffe on that safari? But no blood milk? ;P


    (gonna have to get this copyrighted, so I can stand beside such modern luminaries as Paris ‘Thats Hot’ Hilton)

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    The best bee bim bap not in a hot stone bowl is at Gam mee ok. The best dol sot bee bim bap (hot stone bowl) is at Han Bat on 35th. The best tofu hot pot stew is at cho dang gol on 35th and for lunch it’s only $8 with the best banchan (free small dishes) in koreatown overall in my opinion. I also really like the potato stew (w/pork neck bones) at kunjip. And the most fun noodle dish is at Shanghai on 32nd street where you can get half w/black bean sauce and half as a spicy seafood noodle soup. I like the BBQ korean fried chicken chains–think there’s one near 23rd street and 7th and one on st. mark’s.

  • Try the fried chicken at the .99c pizza shop on 9th and 40th.

  • Great profile! I want to take a class now!

  • eeek to the blood milk

    and STEVE- LMAO!

  • Geetika, where would you recommend someone go to find authentic Indian ingredients for cooking. Also PLEASE please share your recipe for Saag Paneer and Vindaloo. My favorites!

  • mamacita, i am not Greetika but i’ve been some indian spice shops on lexington ave from 20s to 30th street.

  • cho dang ggol on 35th bw 5th and 6th for traditional style korean food. they specialize in tofu-based foods, but also have meat dishes. i recommend their kimchi biji & their bossam dish for 2. do NOT get their other bbq meats. too much $ for too little meat.

    madangsui on 35th for korean bbq. still think they have the best bbq using quality meat.

  • mamacita, if you’re willing to travel, Patel Brothers (and some of the stores around it) in Jackson Heights has good Indian ingredients.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    There are a couple of Indian food stores on 1st Ave around 6th St.

  • RE: ” … and ate every kind of animal they offered me – including snake.”

    Big deal.

    We’ve been eating snake (but only USDA ‘Prime’ rattlesnake – kinda like a ‘Black Label’ snake, you understand) in Texas ever since my Texas ancestors kicked Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón’s ass in the Battle of San Jacinto (that’s just outside of Houston, Texas, for you New Yawk folks’ info).

    Yep, good dry-aged, Black Label rattlesnake tastes a whole lot like chicken. Every Texas Chef, like me, knows that for sure.

    Carry on.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Not Geetika either, mamacita, but for Indian spices try:
    * Kalustyan’s at Lex & 28th – if you can get it anywhere else, you can get it cheaper – but I love to browse around here, the quality is great and there’s a few spice blends I only get here
    * House of Spices at Lex & 28th – cheaper than Kalustyan’s, very fresh
    * Penzey’s in Grand Central food market – convenient location, great selection, quality overall very good. They sell kalonji labelled as “chanushka”, and I think their tumeric smells nicer than anyone else’s.
    * Jackson Heights: Patel Brothers, Sabzi Mandi, Apna Cash & Carry – all right near each other, all have a wide selection and good prices. Back up the truck.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.