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


  • i will also recommend Cho Dang Gol on 35th st. they specialize in tofu dishes and the kimchi biji is oh so good especially when it’s the winter season.

    i also like baden baden. but it’s more of a drinking atmosphere. another great drinking place is pocha across the street. they have a soondae bokkum that’s pretty good, especially with the watermelon soju.

    for korean bbq i always go to kang suh. i find their meat quality is the best compared to the others on 32nd st.

  • Just went to check out the classes, but saw they are all canceled for December. Hope everything is OK, and I plan to check out a class or two in January. Sorry, no recs for Korean here.

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    Seriously, try Mad For Chicken. But be warned: It’s so damn good you’ll start to crave it like crack. They should just change the name to Chicken Crack.

  • Mama – start out with Shan packets. Many indian homes rely on them (told to me by many indian friends). They’re just pre-mixed seasoning packets for various dishes.

  • Also, you can get most of your common indian spices (fenugreek, mustard, garam masala, cumin, coriander, cardamom, bay, cinnamon, tumeric, etc) online from shops (most of my spices come from ). For indian spices like amchur (mango powder), hing (asafoetida), etc, there are indian spices shops (plentiful on google like,, etc). There are like 2 (relatively scary) indian groceries in yonkers where I can get this stuff from, but it’s not as good as the spice shops in manhattan.

    I bought a small container of hing. That stuff is so strong I have it in like 2 ziplocks and the cabinet (dedicated to my indian spices) still smells of it (it’s like a musty onion smell).

    After all that, it might actually be worth sticking to the Shan packets myself :)

  • I am a big fan of Unidentified Flying Chickens in Jackson Heights, Queens.

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