PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Lauren Shockey” Plus Book Giveaway
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 proud and excited to welcome Lauren Shockey, one of the Village Voice’s restaurant critics, as an honorary Midtown Lunch’er. Her book “Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris” comes out tomorrow, and we’ve got a copy to give away after she gives us her recs for lunching.
Occupation: Restaurant Critic and Blogger for the Village Voice and author of the just-released culinary memoir Four Kitchens
Where in Midtown do you Work?: Our offices are on Cooper Square — not in Midtown, I know, I know — but I’m often running all over the city in search of good eating and regularly am in Midtown.
Favorite Kind of Food: Southeast Asian of any kind, but especially Vietnamese, Thai, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian fare. Really, anything that comes from those parts of the world. If I see chiles and garlic and coconut and spices and fresh herbs, I’m down. I can also never say no to raw oysters or lobster rolls, and I have a deep love of pasta with either tomato sauce, white clam sauce, or carbonara.
Least Favorite Kind of Food: I don’t like olives, which is unfortunate when it comes to cocktail parties and dirty martinis but otherwise I can avoid them pretty easily. And I also am not a huge fan of kidneys (I mean, think about their function). Other than that I’m pretty omnivorous.
Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: On the West Side, I’m a big fan of Danji – love the sliders (pork ones especially), and the japchae lunch. I also enjoy the sandwiches at Mooncake Foods and the ramen at Men Kui Tei. Can you tell I like Asian food, haha? On the East Side, I Soba Totto is probably my top spot and I go there frequently, especially in the winter for the hot soba. I also think Bi Lokma is great – I’ll get the stuffed grape leaves, the hot yogurt soup, and the meatballs for sure. And if I want something fancier, I’ll head to the Bar Room at The Modern.
“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Well, because I have to eat at so many different places around the city, I don’t really have a go-to place. But if I’m working in the Voice office downtown, I get sushi (generally tuna and avocado) from Panya, a nearby Japanese bakery. The rolls are only $3.75, which is a steal! And they have a yakisoba sandwich which is kind of amazing, because who doesn’t want noodles inside a sandwich?
Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Food Gallery 32. I remember the site was keeping tabs on it for a while, and I went the day after you guys posted your overview. It’s a fun spot, for sure, but I always get overwhelmed and have ordering regret since there are so many choices there.
If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Chinatown. I could live out my Asian food fetish every single day!
Anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Yes! I am always in search of places that have the following foods, and would love recommendations for spots that have tasty versions. One is Grape-Nuts ice cream. It’s a popular flavor in New England but I’ve only seen it at Blue Marble and the occasional Jamaican spot. The other is one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes from when I lived in Hanoi — banana flower salad, which has a texture similar to coleslaw but is made with ground peanuts and fresh herbs. It’s refreshing and awesome, and I’ve never seen it on a menu here. Midtown Lunchers, send me leads!
Alright… as promised we’ve got a copy of Lauren’s new book to giveaway to one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter to win is comment below. Have a recommendation for Lauren? Put it in the comments and you’re entered to win. Don’t have a rec… just tell us why you deserve the book, and you’re entered to win. It’s as easy as that. And, as always, if you want to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate) email firstname.lastname@example.org.