Flatiron Lunch: Tebaya’s Katsu Sandwich is Even Better Than Its Wings

Now that Downtown has its very own section of the site, what are we going to post on Fridays at 10am? Answer… how about a new column devoted to those lunches just south of the ML boundaries. Please give a warm welcome to Jason Lam from the blog Me So Hungry. Every Friday at 10am he’ll post about lunches in Murray Hill south, Grammercy, Flatiron, and everything in between… or as we’ll call it from now on: Flatiron Lunch.

Midtown Lunch has been all chicken wings, all the time this week.  And all this talk about Kyochon and Cravings and Woorjip really had me craving some Asian fried chicken. I had almost all but forgotten about Tebaya in our hood. It’s not Korean, but Japanese and their signature chicken wings are tasty… but their fried chicken sandwiches are even more awesome.

This small restaurant, over on 19th St between 6th and 7th Ave, was once a shiny chic looking shop. But over the past few years, it’s become dilapidated with counters ripped at the sides and grimy laminated menus on the window. Perhaps the grime comes from all the fried food being cooked there in the open …and pretty much everything on the menu is fried. Although it may have evolved into a dirty hole, it’s a good thing that the food has remained the same.

The #1 Chicken Wing lunch special over rice and salad with a drink ($6.99) is a popular choice. You get eight wings here, deep-fried twice with no breading, sauced and topped with their garlicky Teba sauce and roasted sesame seeds. It comes out crispy, sticky (you’ll get messy fingers) and tasty with a notable Asian flavor. I wouldn’t say this flavor is as strong or bold as Korean fried chicken, but thoughtful in its subtle way. I suppose that’s very Japanese like. It’s good to get the wing special with rice, so it soaks up the wing sauce –not for the wings’ sake, but for the rice. Gives it some flavor.

It never occurred to me to try anything else outside of the wings until I did a little research on Yelp, and found people were raving about the sandwiches. They’re right. The Chicken Teriyaki sandwich is delicious. Two non-breaded fried pieces of chicken coated in their teriyaki sauce on a brioche bun. If there was a problem with it, it was me trying to fight with the chicken. It would often fall apart and on me if I didn’t get a clean bite. This sandwich lunch special (also $6.99) comes with two wings, salad and a drink. A pretty good deal for only $1.50 more than the sandwich itself.

Even better than the Teriyaki sandwich is the Katsu sandwich ($6 sandwich only). Look how this monster sits with two breaded chicken cutlets covered in miso sauce. I felt like the guys in front of the Apex Technical School around the corner were checking out my sandwich… and it wasn’t even wearing a short hoochie dress.

My Japanese friend ordered the Katsu Curry over rice ($9). It didn’t come with a salad –just rice, cutlet and curry sauce. That seems a little expensive to me, but he seemed to like it. I just don’t understand why Japanese curry sauce over rice is so expensive for what it is (i.e. Go Go Curry’s $5 small curry sauce over rice). My friend says my problem is that I’m thinking of it as just sauce and not appreciating it as a complete dish. True and wise.

So while Midtown argues about whether or not Kyochon is good or terrible, or Mad For Chicken is worth the wait, Flatiron readers can take comfort in knowing there is a great little place close by where we can get our Asian fried chicken on.

THE + (What people who like this place would say)

  • I enjoy good Asian style fried chicken (Japanese in this case)
  • I can go for a good lunch combo at a fair price
  • Did you see that photo of the Katsu sandwich?
  • Additional note: The owner and staff are really nice people

THE – (What people who don’t like this place would say)

  • The restaurant is falling apart and has gotten really grimy
  • I don’t like to be messy after I eat
  • The curry katsu seems expensive for what it is

Tebaya, 144 W 19th St (btw. 6+7th Ave), 212-924-3335


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