Archive for 'Blogroll'

Midtown Lunch Readers’ Poll: Best Cheap Chinese

I’m out of town until January 7th, so until then I’m turning over the site to you for the First Annual Midtown Lunch Readers’ Poll, to determine the best that Midtown lunch’ing has to offer. You can only vote once, so choose wisely. Links to info about most of the nominees can be found on the “Restaurant Index” page. Feel free to write in votes in the comments section. Official winners will be posted to the site on January 9th.

Hing Won Has a Twin Sister, Serving Best Cheap Chinese Food to Midtown East

When it comes to take out, cheap chinese food there is no question in my mind that Hing Won is the king of Midtown.  On 48th btw. 5+6th, the quickness that they serve up authentic, Chinatown style dishes to hordes of Midtown Lunchers is mind boggling.  It can be pretty intimidating for the uninitiated, so they even have a steam table on the left side of the counter, for those addicted to sesame chicken (and afraid of ordering off a menu that is half in Chinese).

Walking around on the East side on Monday, I discovered something exciting.  On 45th btw. Lex+3rd, there is a Hing Won East.  It’s called Hop Won, and by looking at the takeout menu- you would never be able to tell the difference between the two places.  The even have the double sided ordering counter.  Right side is the steam table, left side is the real stuff!  With Menchanko Tei and Maharaja right next door, this is becoming a pretty formidable block.

My (not surprising to anybody who has eaten at Hing Won with me) lunch, after the jump… Read more »

The Steam Table at East Ocean is by the Chinese, for the Chinese

There are two kinds of Chinese steam table places in Midtown.  The kind that’s made for people who like “Americanized” Chinese food (i.e. Yips).  And the kind that’s made for Chinese people, who live in America.  (Hing Won on 48th btw. 5+6th does both really well, making it my favorite cheap Chinese food in Midtown.)  Awhile back, I wrote about the 38th St. Restaurant & Bakery, one of these “authentic” Chinese places, opened for workers in the Garment District (and any adventurous white people who work in the Southeastern corner of Midtown). 

But what if you are in the opposite corner of Midtown?  Well, I found your place.  For those of you working in the Northeast corner of Midtown, there is East Ocean on 55th btw. Lex+3rd.  On the outside it looks like your average Midtown cheap Chinese place… but at lunchtime they put a steam-table that is not quite for everyone.  Let’s put it this way, if you’re looking for Chinese food, where you have to ask what each item is (and General Tso’s chicken is a rarity), than this is your new favorite place.

What they’ve got, and a +/- after the jump… Read more »

Mongolian BBQ at Food World is Neither BBQ Nor Mongolian

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what Mongolian Food is.  I don’t even know anything about Mongolia itself.  But I feel pretty safe in saying that if you ever find yourself at a restaurant in Mongolia, there will be no sign of a gigantic round griddle, and they will not allow you to pick out your own ingredients from a buffet.  If you were a soldier in the Mongol Empire, you may have eaten copious amounts of meat and vegetables off of your overturned shield, cooked over a fire and stirred with your sword, but that’s pretty much where the comparison ends.  (Although I’m not sure if I should be getting my Mongol Empire historical information from a U.S. chain restaurant website?)

Anyway, regardless of its origin, Mongolian BBQ is here, and people love it.  I’m constantly asked “Where can I find some good Mongolian BBQ in Midtown?”  Which is a tough one for me to answer, because I don’t usually eat Mongolian BBQ.  And there are four words to explain why: Pay by the Pound.  Take me to an all you can eat Mongolian BBQ (like Fire & Ice in Boston), and I’m a madman.  You force me to weigh my food and there’s going to be trouble… but for the sake of you people, I headed to Food World- the freshest looking Mongolian BBQ I’ve seen in Midtown.

What I got, Mongolian BBQ Porn, and a +/- after the jump… Read more »

Manchu Wok to Re-Open, Followed by Cinnabon in 30 Rock



Crappy Chinese food fans rejoice!  The space in the Rock Center Councourse formerly inhabited by Manchu Wok will be re-opening as… Manchu Wok.  Apparently it has new owners and will re-open in the next week (or two).  I’m not exactly sure how franchises work, but I’m holding out hope that the quality will improve for those rainy days when I don’t want to go outside and walk to the far superior Hing Won, one block away.

In much bigger news, Cinnabon will be opening a location in the Rock Center Councourse sometime in the near future.  This is terrible news for us fatties who do everything we can to avoid things like the amazing scent of freshly cooked cinnamon filled, glazed buns, that will no doubt permeate the entire food court area.  The Rock Center Councourse might just have to banned permanently from my list of Midtown Lunch’ing options, just to avoid the tantalizing smell.

If you have info about places in Midtown opening or closing, send it to

Manchu Wok Out. Panda Express are you paying attention???


I always thought the cheap Chinese place in a food court was untouchable.  Like a hot dog stand in front of the Museum of Natural History- some places don’t need to be good to make money, they just need to show up.  After all, who can resist orange chicken in a food court.

So much for that theory.  Manchu Wok, the terrible Chinese food place in the Rock Center Councourse, has closed.  I never met a cheap chinese food place I didn’t like… until I ate at Manchu Wok- so I’m not too upset.  But you can rest assured there a ton of lazy Chinese food addicts in 30 Rock who are finding it hard to get out of bed these days.  I guess they’ll have to walk a few blocks to Hing Won, Yips or Wo Hop/Ho Yip to fill their urge.

In a related note… this weekend I will be stepping up my praying for Panda Express to move into the now vacant space.  If anybody else would like to join in, feel free.

The M.L. Guide to Beating the All You Can Eat Chinese Food Buffet

I fully admit that I am not a food expert.  I’ve never been to culinary school, my palate isn’t particularly advanced and I probably have no business writing about any kind of food (even if it is crappy carts and dives in Midtown).  But if there is one thing I could be considered an expert on, it’s Chinese Buffets.  I am a huge fan of the All of You Can Eat Chinese food buffet (emphasis on the huge).  The concept of all-you-can-eat is brilliant on its own, but once you throw in one of my all time favorite foods (Chinese), you’ve got one of the greatest inventions of all time.

In fact, it is a personal goal of mine to eat at a Chinese buffet in every state in the country.  Here are the states I’ve tackled so far:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • New Mexico
  • New York (Just recently… and the inspiration for this post.)
  • Nevada (Obviously)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas (A great buffet just outside of Houston that had fried frogs legs.  Delicious!)
  • Tennessee (Terrible.  My wife will never let me live that one down.)

It’s clearly a work in progress, but I take my work very seriously.  I really love Chinese Buffets.  And it is not just the fact that you get to stuff your face (something I enjoy doing very much).  It’s also the no waiting (you start eating right after you sit down), the variety (it’s the spice of life!) and of course, the competition.  That’s right…  the competition.  You vs. the Buffet.  The price is really just a dare.  A sign that says “All-U-Can-Eat for $14.50″, might as well just say “I dare you to eat more than $14.50 worth of food.  Signed - The Buffet.”

Basically, your goal from the moment you walk into the buffet should be “Win the Game”.  And the game is to eat so much food that the restaurant loses money.  You want to eat so much that when they see you come back the next time, they get scared.  You want them to worry that if you eat at their buffet too often, they might have to close it down.  But before you can learn how to beat your enemy, you must KNOW your enemy.

The three kinds of Chinese buffets, PLUS my tips to winning the game (and more buffet porn)- after the jump… Read more »

(Cheap Chinese & Classical Piano at…) Fusion Grills

There are many reasons I choose to write about particular places in Midtown.  First is obviously the food.  If a place has great food (and is cheap), I’m going to write about it.  Unfortunately, we work in Midtown- so if I limited myself to only places with great food, my blog would be about 7 entries long (see My Favorite links in the right hand column)… and even some of those are just great “for Midtown”.  Barring great food, some places get written about because they are serving something out of the ordinary (a generic deli with Korean food, or a burrito stuffed with fried plantains).  I could also write about a place because it’s hidden, and not alot of people know about it… and sometimes I’ll just write about something because it’s funny.  Occasionally, a bunch of these reasons combine to form something that just can’t be ignored…

I got an email from a reader named Krista last week telling me to check out “the lower concourse of the building… on 53rd & 3rd, where Au Bon Pain is located… (they have an) ok sushi place with authentic green tea that I enjoy, and a brand new Chinese place that only charges $5-6 for chicken/beef/shrimp, noodles or veggies and choice of rice.”  Concourse?  That means food court right!?!?  Lower?  That means hidden right?!?!  Brand new Chinese place?!?!  That means I’m immediately interested, right?  I rushed over, and found a food court- as described, with one major omission…

(Pictures, +/- and more, after the jump…)

Read more »

Grand Central Terminal Food Court

I think I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again.  I love food courts.  What’s there not to like?  It’s like 20 cheap restaurants, all under the same roof.  Sure I always get the Chinese food, or the Chinese food knock off (bourbon chicken I’m looking at you)… but having the options (whether you use them or not) is great- because if you go with other people, everyone can get what they want.  So when I want Chinese food (which I always do), my wife and I can go to a food court even if she doesn’t want Chinese food, because there’s other things for her to get!  It’s a fool proof scheme…

There aren’t many food courts in Manhattan (you’ve gotta go to a mall in the suburbs for that), but there are a few.  And one, that seems like it should be amazing, is the Grand Central Terminal Food Court.  One walk through this place, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to food court heaven.  No wasted space on generic fast food joints like McDonalds or BK, and they have all the requisite food options (Chinese, Sushi, Indian, Cajun, Caribbean, BBQ, Pizza, and more.) 

And yet, for a food court- with a ton of options- right in the middle of Midtown, it’s not nearly as crowded as you would think.  None of the places have lines, and we didn’t have too much trouble finding a place to sit.  To top it off, I get emails all the time recommending places to eat in Midtown.  Very few “good” (a relative term of course) or popular places have gone unrecommended.  And yet, nobody has ever recommended the food court, or singled out any of the choices in an email.

A superficial look at the options, more pictures, and a call to arms… after the jump.

Read more »

Ho Yip

I am not a big fan of Buffets by the pound- for obvious reasons.  Or maybe it’s not so obvious if you are skinny and have any amount of self control.  Me, not so much.  I love the “buffet” part, but adding those other three words, destroys what is otherwise a wonderful, magical thing.  First, I don’t want to know how many pounds of food I’m about to eat (Is it true if you eat 2 lbs of chinese food, you automatically gain two pounds?).  Second, I feel hindered.  I’m thinking, “Gee what does this weigh?” and “Am I really getting a good weight to price ratio”.  Always trying to find that big money item and staying away from super heavy cheapo items like rice, and dumplings (my personal favorite).

Well, I’m happy to say I have finally found a price by the pound buffet that is not only a decent value- but is stocked with my favorite kind of food!  Ho Yip, a cheap chinese food place on 45th between btw. 5th & 6th that during lunch has an all chinese buffet by the pound (and the choices are tremendous!).  It’s $4.95 per pound- but here’s the real deal.  If you go after 2:15pm, the price drops to $3.75 a pound (the late lunch special).

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “Late lunch” and “Price drop” at a buffet by the pound does not exactly instill confidence in the freshness of the food you’re getting.  But I was very surprised to learn that they restock the buffet just before 2:15 in preparation for the big crowds that come late looking for the deal.  Apparently they keep putting food out until they run out.  It really is a wonderful thing… if you like cheap and greasy Chinese food (and don’t mind waiting with a horde of other bargain hunters).

My plate, the rest of the menu, something for free(!) and the +/- after the jump… Read more »