I’m not sure if any Midtown Lunch’ers still eat at Variety Cafe, the big generic deli on 48th (btw. 5th and 6th), considering its rather odious presence on this site over the years. On my way to lunch yesterday, however, I noticed that they are celebrating their 5th Anniversary by slashing the price on their hot and cold buffet from $7.49/lb to $5.99/lb (Monday-Friday). Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to their “salad bar for fat people,” and you know, there’s the whole DOH thing to worry about. I stopped in just to see what they had to offer, and besides the usual stuff all these delis have, there were some shrimp stuffed mushrooms. Proceed, if you must, but do so with caution.
Archive for '48th btw 5+6th'
Last week we reported that New Jersey’s QBA Cuban Kitchen truck had started making appearances in Manhattan, and according to the schedule on their website they’re hoping to make it a permanent Tuesday and Thursday thing (on the SE corner of 48th and 6th) Excited about a new truck in the face of NYC’s coming food truck apocalypse, I immediately headed out to welcome QBA to the neighborhood, and to see what they had to offer.
There’s a reason that most Midtown pubs are not considered Midtown Lunches. First off, few serve lunch for under $10. Tack on tax and tip, and you’re usually spending a ton of money for food that is fine by Midtown standards… but kind of boring. And not better than what you can get for less at a real “Midtown Lunch” spot. Sure, there is the added bonus of beer and TV during your lunch… but is that really worth paying $4 for a soda? Yeah, that’s right… Channel Four (on 48th btw. 5+6th) charges $4 for a soda. I know it’s expensive to run a restaurant in Midtown, and I won’t pretend to understand the financial difficulties of being in this high rent part of town. But $4 for a soda? That says one thing to me… tourist trap. (Or, rich lawyer happy hour spot.) Either way it’s unforgivable.
But I’ll give credit where credit is due. Channel Four stepped to the plate with this bacon explosion thing. If you haven’t heard of the bacon explosion, it was one of those gross food sensations that hit the internets earlier in the year. Essentially a bacon wrapped, ground pork roll covered in BBQ sauce, Channel Four decided to recreate it for consumption in Midtown. (Amazing, right?) Even more than that, they were willing to turn it into a sandwich (called the “Bacon Implosion”) and charge under $10 for it as part of our Midtown Lunch Sandwich Challenge. So I swallowed my cheap bastard, Midtown Lunch’ing standards and stepped into Channel Four yesterday for a taste.
Be prepared to be rocked by the “Implosion” after the jump…
After posting that you really have to go to 9th Ave. for a decent Greek style gyro, Lunch’er Susan emailed me to ask about a gyro special she had seen in Midtown Proper: “Pronto on 48th btw 5+6th, near Indus Express and Hing Won, has a gyro combo. Gyro, fries, drink for $6. Could this possibly be any good? I suppose stranger things have happened.” There are actually *two* Pronto Pizzas on 48th btw. 5+6th, but the gyro deal is at the one closer to 6th Ave. I stopped by there the other day to check it out.
Got this email from Lunch’er “Spencer” who has been stalking a lady selling Latin food on the sidewalk of 48th btw. 5+6th on Fridays for the past few weeks. Not sure if a) she’s only there on Fridays, and b) if it’s the same Ecuadorian lady who used to sell food on 46th btw. 5+6th. (I haven’t seen her in awhile…)
“Two Fridays ago I was with a co-worker who gets a jump on the lunchtime rush by going out every day at 11:30. He hits Variety Cafe 19 out of every 20 lunches (the other one being Tina’s Restaurant). As we’re walking from 6th Ave. on 48th towards Variety, someone drops a can of soda and I pick it up and hand it back to a little lady with what is essentially one of those metal laundry/grocery upright carts filled with plastic bags of all sizes and colors. I see it is food and waste no time asking what she’s selling. She says sheepishly “food” as if I’m going to bust her. Instead I said I’d take a plate, and to allay her fears I take the first thing she offers. It ends up being a piece of fried fish over a bed of awesome yellow rice, drowned in a great shrimp sauce.”
But wait… there’s more.
I hit up the new by the lb. buffet at Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th) for the first time on Friday, and here’s the damage. It was a little over $6. Not too bad, but not great either- and I think Sun Yip/Ho Yip on 45th btw. 5+6th is probably better (plus they have the price drop at 2:15, which can’t be beat.) I think I’ll probably stick with the right side of the counter when I go to Hing Won, and order things off of their more authentic menu.
I did, however, break one of my cardinal rules of by-the-lb. buffet eating. Can you spot it? What’s wrong with this picture? (If you want to cheat, you can look at my rules for by the lb. buffet eating.)
Big changes at one of my favorite fast food Chinese places in Midtown… Hing Won (on 48th btw. 5+6th) which is famous for their two different lines, has upended the left side of their operation by making their steam table into a pay by the lb. self serve food bar. The Americanized Chinese food they served on the left side used to be one of those point-to-what-you-want situations, but now you help yourself- and pay $5.80 a pound for whatever you take. The food itself hasn’t really changed, so you probably end up paying more for less of the exact same food- but you do end up with greater variety, so it’s not all bad. And $5.80 is still cheaper than most generic deli by the lb. buffets. So if Chinese food is what you like, and buffet by the lb. is your preferred method, this news should be very exciting to you.
That’s not all though. The right side, where Hing Won serves up their more ”authentic” Chinatown style fare, didn’t escape unscathed.
For those who were hoping Bagelfeller (on 48th btw. 5+6th) would morph into a decent Midtown Lunch, I’ve got some bad news. They changed the name (it’s called Sam’s House Cafe now), and they’ve added a weird greenish counter, but the food seems to be mostly the same. The salad bar, the weird tex-mex food, the sushi… it’s all there. So much for hopes…
BAGELFELLER GOES DOH!: This straight from the M.L. Inbox: "The DOH must be cracking down on the 48th St. places. Bagelfeller has a closed DOH sign up as well..." Don't pretend to be surprised. That place looks dirty, smells dirty and at one time they served something called a "banana roll" in their pre-made sushi section. Wrong on so many levels...
Posted at 6:51 pm, May 27th, 2008 | 4 Comments
In the comments today about Indus Express, the fairly new Indian “Deli” on 48th btw. 5+6th:
Zach – you missed the really ass-kicking deal at Indus Express. At the front of their store they have a sign for “All you can eat buffet.” Last night my friend and I inquired, and to our great joy, the buffet consists of ALL of their meat and veggie curries, PLUS naan, for $8.99 (it’s not a self serve buffet, but who freaking cares). The guy who seemed to run the place said that deal was available anytime, any day. Service was great, food was excellent, and the price really is phenomenal for what you’re getting. And I didn’t even make it to the chaat or the naan-rolls yet…
I managed to contain my excitement enough to call up Indus Express and confirm that they do have an $8.99 buffet special, but it is only M-F after 4pm, and all day on the weekends. Eat in only (obviously) and you’re allowed to take as much as you want from the steam table (including pakoras and samosas). I’m bummed that it’s not for lunch, but still a great deal if you need a big (but cheap) dinner after work, or you’re stuck in the office on the weekends.
Indus Express, 48 W. 48th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-221-7952