A Look At The Grand Opening of Cafe Today
Last month, we announced that Cafe Today was moving in next to Chipotle on 52nd between Lex and 3rd Ave. I erroneously thought it was a Portland chain (thanks, commenters, for your diligence), but it turns out it’s actually a huge generic-ish deli serving, well, basically everything under the sun. We’ve got (deep breath): a hot sandwich station, a cold sandwich station, a salad bar, panini counter, soups, hot buffet, cold buffet, custom teriyaki bowls, stir fry, udon noodle soup, sushi, bibimbap, dessert, and probably much more. It was extremely crowded for its grand opening, but can a place with this many options do everything well?
After suffering from a mini anxiety attack when I saw the crowds and realized just how many options this place had to offer, I studied my options and finally settled on the beef bibimbap ($7.95). I then suffered a second moment of panic when the friendly gentleman behind the counter informed me that it was unavailable. Apparently they had bibimbap on their opening day but haven’t had it since, and he was unsure if it would be returning in the future. Since I was already standing there, I went with the other option I could get from his station, the udon noodle soup. Being a sucker for dumplings of any kind, I chose the Siu Mai Udon, spicy, also $7.95.
The noodle soups are each made fresh to order. Mine contained seaweed, carrots, scallions, tofu, and 5 or so generic shrimp siu mai. They weren’t the best siu mai I’ve had by any means, but they weren’t the worst either. Full disclosure: I’m of the school of thought that even a bad dumpling tastes pretty good, so I was satsified. The broth was very salty, which I enjoyed at first, but towards the end it was a little hard to eat. The noodles were springy and freshly cooked, and chili powder added a nice bit of heat, although next time I might ask for “extra spicy.”
The second time I went I was looking for a light lunch, so I chose the Sashimi Salad ($5.95) from the sushi bar: assorted sashimi over lettuce with ginger dressing.
From what I could tell, this salad contained salmon, tuna, and yellowtail sashimi, with a few chunks of cucumber and red pepper served over iceberg lettuce. I was a little disappointed with the choice of iceberg, but this was definitely a good amount of raw fish for under $6. Obviously these are the scraps left over from the preparation of the actual sushi, but it tasted reasonably fresh, I didn’t get sick, and again, it all cost under $6! If you want a light, healthy meal this will be enough food, but if you’re starving you may want to supplement it with something else.
Overall, Cafe Today is a slightly better generic deli in a sea of generic delis…it offers a few interesting options and everything is pretty reasonably priced. I’ll probably come back and try a few more of the numerous options, but it won’t be high on the list if I’m looking for something exotic. For a limited time, they are offering 1/2 off deli sandwiches and the hot and cold salad bars in honor of their grand opening, so it might be worth checking out sooner rather than later.
The + (what someone who likes this place would say):
- Oh boy! They have EVERYTHING!
- I’m craving udon soup, and this place is decent and convenient.
- So much sashimi for under $6!
- 1/2 off? I’m there.
The – (what someone who doesn’t like this place would say):
- Oh boy. They have EVERYTHING.
- There are better places for udon and sushi in midtown, I don’t need to go to a generic deli for that.
- 1/2 off is not enough to get me in the door of this place.
Cafe Today, 144 E. 52nd St (btw Lex + 3rd)