Bann Next Door’s Lunch Specials Worth Every Penny
Last week, we were tipped off by Lunch’er Jennie that Bann, the pricey Korean restaurant on 50th St. btw. 8th+9th (in Worldwide Plaza) opened a casual takeout counter called “Bann Next Door” at the same address. (Bann just blocked off a corner of their existing space and packed in four tables.) One look at the menu and we knew we had to go back. $6.95 soy BBQ pork spare ribs or honey chili glazed Korean fried chicken? With empty stomachs and high expectations, we ordered one of every main item on the menu.
See the Korean feast – takeout style – after the jump.
Each lunch to-go box comes with three pieces of meat (if you ordered meat), three small sides, and a dipping sauce. The sides were mostly unmemorable though I have to say the house salad drew some “hmm, this chili ginger dressing is so good!” from everyone in my entourage. But enough about greens, let’s talk about slow roasted, tender pork spare ribs slathered in soy BBQ sauce.
If you’re not drooling all over yourself, then you probably don’t eat pork, love barbecue or delicious food. Aside from slight inconsistencies in juiciness – one end of each spare rib was way more tender, juicy, and had more fattiness than the other end – it was a win! $6.95 for three really meaty spare ribs dripping with BBQ sauce? Definitely going back for this.
Bann Next Door offers two variations on fried chicken: Natural or honey chili glazed. I had both, but only the honey chili glaze is pictured here because the natural version was just plain fried chicken (if fried chicken can be considered plain). I mean, the “natural” was filling and fried, but why would you turn down a delicious honey chili glaze for no extra charge! Each lunch box comes with one large drumstick and two chicken wings. It’s sticky, sweet, and lightly coated with sesame. I was licking my fingers after this one. Unfortunately, the jalapeno biscuit I was so excited to try was dry and I doubt there’s enough butter in this world that can save it.
If you’re a fan of bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated Korean beef), then you’ll probably enjoy the $7.95 grilled beef entree, which comes with more rice than you really need. The meat quickly became lukewarm, but the generous helping of semi-sweet rib eye more than made up for the lack of sizzling hotness.
Surprisingly, even the $6.95 chicken “mini pockets”, which are basically just dumplings, were a hit. There are two mini pocket varieties: Chicken and veggie. I skipped the veggie because I am a carnivorous beast. Each box comes with seven dumplings, which compensates for their small size. They’re steamed, but are lightly seared (fried?) so the skin is slightly crispy. Each pouch was nicely filled with chicken mash and tasted great with the deceptively hot dipping sauce. Another win for Bann Next Door.
Last but not least, there was fried rice. This was an odd duck as it didn’t come in a lunch box like the others, but in a plastic takeout container in the style of Chinese restaurants. But unlike Chinese takeout, this fried rice (which I ordered with chicken) wasn’t overly greasy and had just a smoky hint of the wok it was fried in. If you love fried rice, you will be happy with this $6 portion.
Since each box is so neatly organized with different compartments, my first reaction was “Amy, there’s not enough food in these containers”. I didn’t think I’d be full from just one lunch box but these lunches are deceptively filling. There will, of course, be some who are not satisfied but the boxes are well-flavored and fit nicely within the Midtown Lunch price range too. And when we find a place that fits both our bill and stomach, then you know we’ll be going back for more!
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- If you want Korean fried chicken for under $10 in Midtown West, here it is in a box.
- The barbecue pork spare ribs are an excellent lunch discovery no matter where you compare it to in Midtown.
- The chili ginger salad dressing is a good way to trick yourself into eating greens.
- Nice presentation. Even if you don’t eat the sides at least they’re neatly organized.
- You can reuse the box as a desk organizer. Paper clips, rubber bands, push pins find a home.
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Most of the veggie sides are kinda lame.
- That might be enough food for you, but not for me!
- Jalapeno biscuits are better in theory; dry in reality.
- The chef needs to rotate those pork spare ribs when cooking ‘em so we’re not left with super tender meat on one end and sort of tender on the other.
- Unless you’re dining there, the grilled meat plus rice box will probably be cold by the time you get it.
- Forget this fancified Korean stuff, with translated names. If I want “grilled beef” I’ll go to K-Town and get me some bulgogi!
- You don’t need a desk organizer.
Bann Next Door, 350 W 50th St. (btw. 8+9th) 212-582-4446