PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “James Oseland”

Every Tuesday we turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. This week we’re super excited to welcome James Oseland, the Editor in Chief of Saveur- the only food magazine I bother having a subscription to. This month’s issue features their annual Saveur 100 List of amazing amazing food finds from all over the world. But for these recommendations we confined James to a much smaller area…

Name: James

Age: 47

Occupation: Editor-in-Chief of Saveur; a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters

Where in Midtown do you Work?: 32nd and Madison

Favorite Kind of Food: Oh my God, um, going to have to make that Foods with an s. Indonesian nasi goreng (fried rice) with sweet soy sauce and crisp-fried shallots; Korean bi bim naengmyun, chilled wheat noodles with Asian pear in hot-sweet-thick dressing; celeri remoulade; warm, whole wheat toast with Marmite and a thin slice of good cheddar cheese.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: I swear I don’t have one. (Though the chile-lime plaintain chips from a bodega in Williamsburg that I ate yesterday really were pretty terrible. They tasted like soap.)

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: 1. The bi bim bap at Gahm Mi Oak on 32nd Street is, I think, the best in the city, elegant and soulful and incredibly delicious. (And Gahm Mi Oak’s kimchee is truly to die for…my friend Kelly Choi swears the secret ingredient is a pinch of sugar.) 2. Anything at the always gorgeous and graceful La Grenouille on 52nd Street, anytime. 3. The tiffin set lunch at the almost-Midtown Saravanaas on Lexington at 26th: button-sized idlis drenched in sweet-sour sambar; a delicate dosai; a small portion of upma (a sort of South Indian wheat porridge) studded with curry leaves and cashews. Yum. 4. The pretty takeout bento boxes at Yagura, the Japanese joint on 41st. I worked around the corner from this place years ago, and still hold a soft spot in my heart for their hefty (and very affordable) bento boxes, loaded with lovely grilled mackerel, Japanese pickles, and much more.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Second Avenue Deli. (Though, frankly, I could never eat there often enough. It is always—always–one of my two or three favorite restaurants in New York. It’s been said a million times, but their matzoh ball soup is a life-changer.)

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Not so much a place, but a petite Midtown institution: Madeleine, the crepe lady. Wow. Who knew? Is she still around?

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why?
Penang, Malaysia. Hands down, this midsize Malaysian city has, I think, the best street food anywhere. Yeah, Bangkok and Singapore are great, but Penang is phenomenal. Its endless hawker stalls are one of the great wonders of the food world. What would I eat? Everything, but especially the char kuey teow, silky rice noodles, shrimp, cockles, and chives stir-fried over a charcoal fire served by any number of terrific vendors who specialize in the dish.

Anything you’d like to ask the ML readers? At Saveur planning meetings, we love to have pizza delivered. Patsy’s is great, but it takes soooooooo long to arrive—by the time it finally comes, appetites and tempers are usually blazing. Is there someplace closer to us that delivers (quickly!) good pizza made with good stuff?

Got an answer for James? Put it in the comments. And, as always, if you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email


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