Archive for 'Soups'

Stalking Cafe Duke’s New Soup Special

Yuk Gae Jang from Cafe duke

At this point, I’ve come to terms with the maddeningly inconsistent schedule at Café Duke’s Korean counter (on 51st btw. 6+7th). As far as we can tell, their daily specials ($8.95) usually jive with the given meteorlogic conditions, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s getting nippy outside. So it should be no surprise that on a particularly bitter cold day, I stepped into Café Duke and found that they were serving a soup special that bites back. Yuk gae jang is a fiery, tangy, yet refreshing Korean soup, rich with slices of beef flank, crunchy bean sprouts, earthy fern shoots, and pungent scallions. This dish’s raison d’être is to warm the body and soul. Halfway through the peppery bowl of soup, I had loosened my tie, rolled up my sleeves, and had a sheen of sweat on my brow despite the blustery conditions outside. A side of adequately steamed white rice provides relief to the sting of the broth, and the obligatory side of kimchi is the ultimate cure-all for any and all ailments (sez my Grandmother). Baby it’s cold outside, but boy, this yuk gae jang has got me feeling warm inside.

The only downside? You never know when they’re going to have it!

Café Duke, Give Us Our Bulgogi Tacos!
Korean Food at Cafe Duke

I Wonder if I'll Still Like Pho 32 When I Get Back From Vietnam


The beginning of my search for Vietnamese food ahead of my upcoming trip to Asia coincided with the rainy days we had over the last few weeks. With the early onset of soup weather, I’ve found myself at Pho 32 a lot lately. The Koreatown soup station has been mentioned many times here and I’ve written about it, but it’s never gotten the proper Midtown Lunch treatment.

With fall here, it’s just about the right time to start looking at the area soup options, so check out Pho 32′s offerings after the jump.

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Akdeniz’s Red Lentil Soup is a Bowl of Lemony Peppery Goodness


A few months back when I posted about my undying love for the red lentil soup at Dervish, Lunch’er “steveroller” tipped me off that “there’s a similar soup for a similar price at Akdeniz on 46th a couple blocks away.” Interesting. Very interesting. Never one to pass up the opportunity to check out a new soup spot, I paid Akdeniz a visit to see how their red lentil soup stacks up.
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2 of the 3 Best Ramens in NYC Are in Midtown!!!

Hide-Chan’s Hakata Ramen. Photo by J. Kenji Lopez Alt.

Oh how the tides have turned! Take that East Village! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! (Ok, scratch that last part.) When I first started Midtown Lunch we were perfectly happy with our ramen selection here in Midtown. Sapporo, Menchanko Tei, and Men Kui Tei were all perfectly acceptable bowls of Japanese noodle soup, but there was no question that the EV was where ramen aficionados longed to work. Minca, Rai Rai Ken, Setagaya, and yes, even Momofuku. We couldn’t compete with that. And once Ippudo opened, well, that was game over. Until today!

Serious Eats’ J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (the amazing Food Lab dude) has declared Hide-Chan’s Hakata Ramen the best bowl of Ramen in New York City (with Totto Ramen coming in 3rd, after Ippudo.) That’s right. Soak it in people. Midtown now officially has the best ramen in New York City!

Hide-Chan’s Black Ramen is a Garlicky Force to Be Reckoned With

Bapcha Noodle Cart Is Way Better Than It Used to Be

Bapcha Noodle Cart Menu

Last week, we covered the re-design, menu revamp and subsequent price increases at the Bapcha cart (formerly known as Bulgogi & Kimchi, on 49th btw. 6+7th), though we neglected to mention the re-design of the adjoining noodle cart extension. Like big brother Bapcha, the noodle cart has received a matching make-over, though the menu and prices emerged relatively unaffected. The most note-worthy difference, however, is the food.

In my inaugural once-over of the noodle cart, I was lukewarm on the quality of the food. Admittedly I hadn’t returned prior to last week, a decision based entirely on one plate of food- a hot mess of merely adequate jjajangmyeon with truly alarming green soba noodles.  And yet, over the past few months, I’ve noticed with increasing frequency the appearance of Bapcha Noodle Cart ramyun on my co-worker’s desks and the unmistakable whiff of jjampong (spicy seafood noodle soup) around the office. After overhearing a trusted foodie (and Korean) co-worker effusively gush over her order of spicy tuna kimbap, I decided it was definitely time for a revisit.

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Totto Ramen’s Spicy Paitan is Worth The Splurge

Totto Ramen Spicy Paitan Ramen

Since my initial write-up of Totto Ramen, I’ve become somewhat of a regular customer. Customer may be too light of a word – ‘devotee’ is more like it. At the ever so slightly out-of-ML price range, this ever so slightly out-of-bounds restaurant has enraptured me, besting my former #2 ranked ramen shop, Minca in the East Village (Ippudo remains steadfast at #1… for now).

While I was previously constrained to the plain bowl of chicken paitan ramen ($9.25), in keeping with ML cost guidelines, I found true love in the spicy chicken ramen ($10.25), made even more tasty with the added crunch of kikurage mushrooms (+$1), and the opulence of a seasoned hardboiled egg (+$1). Impossibly decadent and deliriously spicy, this nearly perfect bowl of chicken noodle soup is worth the >$10 splurge. They say that perfection has a price, but for $12 and change, I’ll buck the trend of being a lunchtime cheapass and indulge.

Totto Ramen Is the Closest Thing We’ve Got to the East Village

Totto Ramen Is the Closest Thing We’ve Got to the East Village

Lunch’er “Chris” is on fire! Yesterday he gave us a rundown of all the decent options at Taste of Summer in Rock Center (today is the last day, btw.) Today he files this pretty amazing report on Ramen Totto, which is now open for lunch. I think it might be time to make this guy official. Please welcome the newest contributor to the fold… Chris H.

Few would consider ramen to be good hot weather food. Even fewer would consider a restaurant located on 52nd btw. 8+9th to be within midtown lunch bounds. However, with Totto Ramen’s recent announcement that they would start serving lunch I felt compelled to schlep (schvitzing all the way) to the outer regions of Midtown to check out Ryuichi “Bobby” Munekata’s latest offering. Was the journey worth it? We noodle over the answer after the jump…

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Chef’s Secret Pho Bo Is A Decent Noodle Bowl

Chef's Secret formerly known as Thai Nam
After noticing Chef’s Secret (formerly known as Thai Nam on 45th btw. Lex+3rd) was offering pho bo last week, I went back to try the Vietnamese beef and rice noodle soup to relieve my curiosity. They describe their new offering as “hearty beef broth scented with cloves and anise. Served with thin rice noodle. Choice of beef/chicken/seafood.” All for $9.50! OK, not the best deal in Midtown, but I figured it’s worth a try since they’ve pretty much plastered the NEW pho bo flyers all over their window, their sidewalk sign, and walls inside…

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Lunch’er “Chris” Reports: Arirang’s Chicken Tastes Like Chicken

A few weeks ago Lunch’er “Chris6Sigma” was kind enough to check out the Korean Noodle Soup cart on 49th btw. 6+7th and report back.  This week he has turned his attention to Arirang in Koreatown, and sent in this report:

Arirang Entrance on 32nd St

Being ‘a chicken’ is a multilateral term, but is usually used in negative connotations. e.g. “The French were a bunch of surrender monkey chickens during WWII” or “What are you McFly… a chicken?” Similarly, ‘tasting like chicken’ is a phrase reserved for bland and unimaginative cuts of protein.

At Arirang (on 32nd btw. B’way+5th) the chicken… tastes like chicken. Americans have gotten so used to battering and deep frying their birds, smothering them with sauces, gravy and a heavy hand of spice, we’ve forgotten what chicken actually tastes like. In the process of commoditization and modernization, the once noble fowl has become so bland that it’s an unspoken requirement that a chicken be heavily seasoned or sauced to make it palatable.

However, the chicken soups at Arirang taste cleanly and boldly of chicken. Sheer poultry flavor, savory, fragrant, familiar, and yet exotic for those who grew up eating skinless boneless chicken breasts deep fried or smothered in mushroom gravy or some other Midwestern concoction.

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Grand Central Oyster Bar’s She Crab Soup Has Far More Seafood Than You’d Expect


Back in March, the ML team ate our way through the entire Grand Central’s Oyster Bar Menu. Well, almost the entire menu…the Oyster Bar offers three soups per day and two of those slots are typically taken by their classic New England and Manhattan Clam Chowders. The third slot is the wild card. We tried their excellent Tuscan White Bean Soup and I’ve had their Lobster Gazpacho, but I’ve never had their famous Maryland She-Crab Soup… until now.
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