Archive for 'Buffet by lb.'

Soft Shelled Crabs Show Up On A Midtown Pay By the Pound Buffet!!!


Uh… yeah.  You heard me right.  Soft shelled mother f’ing crabs on a Midtown by the lb. buffet.  That is what I discovered at the Cafe Duke on 51st btw. 6+7th yesterday. I’ve already written a bunch about how much I love their by the lb. buffet, but this just put it over the top.  Soft shelled crab! I’m still giddy thinking about it.  This could be the biggest money item to ever show up on one of these generic Midtown deli buffets (the ones that cost under $10 a pound anyway).  And, they don’t even weigh that much (especially compared to other stuff like fruit and bone in chicken).  It really is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen at a by the pound buffet.

At $7.79 a pound, Cafe Duke by the lb. is on the high end of these kind of crappy Midtown options… but for the quality it is definitely worth it.  The food always looks fresh, every choice looks damn tasty, and the sauce they put on their fake jumbo shrimp makes me not mind that they are trying to fake you into thinking you’re actually getting shrimp

How they were, a shot of my lunch, and the one big downside- after the jump…

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At 2:15 Sun Yip is Awesome; At 3pm… Not So Much

I am a big fan of the 2:15 lunch special at Sun Yip (formerly Ho Yip).  I can’t usually wait that long for lunch, but on the days I can- it’s a nice treat.  Basically after 2:15 they discount their steam table to $4.29/lb. (it used to be $3.75, but what are you gonna do).  This is a pretty big deal, considering that most by the pound buffets are at least $6 a pound, and most of the good ones are even more.  Usually I go right at 2:15, when the buffet is still full (they usually do one major refill just after 2pm) but the other day, I happened to be walking by at 3pm and saw a pretty pathetic sight. 

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Bits & Pieces (Midtown West Edition): Free Toppings at Go Go Curry, Piece of Chicken Raises Prices and more

Normally they give away free topping coupons the day after Hideki Matsui hits a homerun, but why should we be punished because it is the Yankees’ offseason?  Problem solved.  Today is free topping coupon day at Go Go Curry on 38th St. btw. 7+8th. 

The new House of Pita on 8th Ave. btw. 39+40th finally replaced the Mandler’s Sausage sign.  They smartly decided to keep the H.O.P. name, and only add the “Chicken Bar” part to the sign underneath.  I guess they “discovered” that Chicken Bar already exists.

Kashmir Express, the Indian take out place on 8th Ave. btw. 38+39th, has converted to a by the pound buffet.  Looked pretty good, although having to pay for my lunch by the amount it weighs is always a scary proposition.  The $4.99 price tag is not bad, but Indian food can get heavy!  And it forces you to break the #1 rule of eating at buffets by the pound… go easy on the rice and bread.

A shot of the buffet, plus Piece of Chicken’s shocking new menu changes, after the jump… Read more »

Commenter Demands Real Shrimps or Refund from Cafe Duke


Despite my extensive report on fake shrimp at by the lb. buffets, the word is not entirely out on this NYC deli tactic.

From commenter “Leo” on the post about Cafe Duke (51st btw. 6+7th):

Got fooled by the fake shrimp.

Called them to complain and the lady that picks up the phone had an attitude.
She said that 1. I had to ask — Ask who, there is no one you can ask around the food buffet. 2. Nothing is labeled  3. They make the fake shrimp same shape and size as real shrimps.

Would not offer me a refund after I spend $10 on cheap fish instead of what looked like shrimps…

They are so busy have like 10K people there during lunch, there is no need to cheat customers… Will not go back unless given real shrimps of refund.

I was fooled too, but I only took a few of the fake shrimp, and I really liked the way they tasted- so I wasn’t too upset.  The lesson to take from this-  when eating at a by the lb. buffet, never take a full tray of something you’ve never tried. 

For more rules of by the lb. buffet eating, you’ll want to read this post.

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 »

Whole Foods Is Hands Down the Best Generic Midtown Deli

In the far reaches of Midtown, there exists a magical place whose enormity, and depth of choice, is only eclipsed by its price.  A wonderland of lunches, that makes Dishes or Variety Cafe look like a sandbox inside Disney World.  Where prepared meals circle ethnic food stations, and pre-packaged sushi is turned out fresh by the minute.  If only it wasn’t hampered by the anti-fat man, pay the lb. price structure, it could possibly be the Midtown equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocoate Factory.

This place I speak of is Whole Foods, and I finally got a chance to check it out last week for lunch.  It rests on the Upper West Side corner of the Midtown Lunch boundries, on 8th Ave. & 59th St., Columbus Circle, in the basement of the Time Warner Center.  It is easily the best “Grocery Store” in Midtown, and despite its high prices and questionable business practices, the food is undeniably fresh and of a much higher quality than any other place in our area.

The grocery store is nice, but for lunch purposes, we’re looking at the prepared foods area.  The gigantic section between the “store” and the registers.  What they’ve got, grocery store porn and a +/- after the jump… Read more »

The “Man Bar” at City 75

City 75 is not usually the type of place I eat at (or write about), but after last week’s Profiled Midtown Lunch’er Andre said it was home to the best Philly Cheesesteak in Midtown, I figured I should check it out.  City 75 is like an upscale version of all the generic delis in Midtown, but with one difference…  If you make it through the girly overpriced fancy buffet by the pound in the front- there is a pretty spectacular “Man Bar” in the back left hand corner.  Naturally the Philly Cheesesteak was there, along with burgers, fries, onion rings, pizza and grilled sandwiches.

Now, before you email me with “I’m a woman, and I eat at the ‘Man Bar’!!!”, I want to say this- I’m sure a lot of you women eat at the “Man Bar” in City 75- but you also read this blog… and those two things put you in the minority of Midtown Lunching Women (When I say “most women”, I’m talking about your annoying co-workers.  If they are not reading this blog, they clearly have no taste in food).  The simple fact is this… if the “Man Bar” wasn’t there, most men would not set foot into City 75 (it’s way too fancy, and expensive).  And if the rest of the place disappeared, and City 75 was only the “Man Bar”, and nothing else, most Midtown Lunch’ing women wouldn’t eat there.  It’s the perfect blending of the two that makes a nicely dressed business woman (with every intention of eating a salad) willing to eat a steak and cheese sandwich, and a guy like me willing to eat at a place like City 75.

Pics of the food, and a +/- after the jump… Read more »

Fake Shrimp Scam (!?!?) and the ML Guide to Buffet by the lb. Eating

Everybody in Midtown has a goto lunch, and although I try to eat at new places every week, my wife and I usually fall back on Cafe Duke.  Last week, we hit up Cafe Duke for a quick lunch, and I decided to forgo my usual Bi Bim Bap in favor of a few things from the buffet by the lb.  I don’t normally do the whole by the lb. thing, because although I love the variety, I can’t stand feeling the need to hold back.  Scooping tiny portions, all the time worrying that my lunch is going to end up costing $17.  While loading up with my normal items, something amazing stood out to me.  They had these amazing looking Jumbo Shrimp that had me wondering “How they hell can they afford to serve Jumbo Shrimp for $7 a lb.????”

I got two, and discovered one of the greatest scams I had ever fallen prey to.  They’re not real shrimp!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  Actually, I could believe it.  It reminded me of this thing I once learned about Professional Gamblers.  There are teams of gamblers who when a new table game opens up anywhere in the world, they find out about it, and run the numbers, trying to find a single wager that will beat the game.  While most of the games are tirelessly tested before being put into a casino, every once in awhile a game’s creator will make a mathematical error that leaves the game open to being “broken”.  The team will fly to his location, bet the one wager for hours and hours, until the casino realizes their mistake and shuts the game down.

I guess that’s why I wasn’t surprised about the shrimp.  Can you imagine if the Jumbo shrimp were real?  For $6.99 a lb?  Hoards of fat guys (like me) would be crowded around the buffet, loading up on jumbo shrimp… trying to ”beat the game”.  Thankfully, the fake shrimp were delicious so I wasn’t too upset about being duped.  I’m not sure exactly what they are made of, but I’m guessing it is a rice cake type of mixture (or imitation crab meat… although it didn’t have that fake fishy flavor that imitation crab has).  The best part about the scam… the “shrimp” are not only colored and shaped to look like shrimp, they even have the indentation where the tail was pulled off.  Such detail.  It’s like art.

The Midtown Lunch guide to eating at a Buffet by the lb… after the jump.

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The Asian Noodle Bar @ Dishes

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know I’m not a huge fan of the “Midtown Deli”.  You know the place I’m talking about- salad bar, pre-made sandwiches, there’s one on every block.  So when my friend Joanne emailed a link to a New Yorker article about one of these very places, I was pretty surprised.  The New Yorker was writing about a Midtown Lunch deli???  I expected more from you, oh high-brow’d New Yorker…

In their defense Dishes is a little more “high brow’d” then your typical Midtown Deli, but still a deli nonetheless.  The article is more about some sort of staff issue then about the food- but they did slip this intuitive observation into the opening:

A decent midtown lunch spot—not the expense-account sort but a good, clean sandwich shop, with a fresh salad bar, and maybe some seafood tom yum, if that’s your thing—can be hard to come by. Once you find one, you tend to stick with it. You learn the hourly cycles, in terms of both customer flow (twelve-forty-five equals chaos) and servers’ shifts, and you begin to time your visits accordingly.” 

True enough.  Well, against my better judgement, I decided to head over to Dishes at 12:45pm yesterday and check out the chaos.  I’ve walked by this place a million times (usually on my way to Oms/b) and thought it looked like an above average deli.  It’s been recommended to me by a few readers- but it wasn’t until the New Yorker described it as a “a sleek, vaguely Asian-themed cafeteria”, I decided it was time for a visit… after all, I love the Asian food.  Of course, I saw only “Asian”, and missed the “vaguely” part.  Very important distinction.

Pictures, what I ate, and the +/- after the jump…

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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 »