Archive for '55th btw. 5+6th'

Something’s Going on at the Old Menchanko-Tei on 55th

Like most of you, I was heartbroken when Menchanko-Tei called it quits last year, but happy that next-door neighbor, Katsuhama 55, was willing to pick up some of Menchanko’s dishes, with the exception of Rachel’s favorite Midtown oyako-don. When I feel like splurging the extra $0.75 more than the regular midtown lunch, or when I’m just flat out cold because winter is intruding on spring, you’ll find me choosing between the “black” or “red” ramen at Katsuhama 55.

On my most recent ramen splurge this week, I noticed that something new is being constructed at the old Menchanko-Tei location at 43 West 55th Street. Building permits and some Internet sleuthing have led me to believe that the forces behind Natureworks Restaurant at (113 East 31st between Park & Lex) could be behind whatever’s going on at the old Menchanko-Tei location. Until the new restaurant is unveiled, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for something a bit more interesting than a salad bar…

30% off the New Buk (Boo-K) Balkan Bistro


On my walk back to the office from lunch last week I noticed Buk, a new Balkan restaurant on 55th Street. Their menu is solidly on the pricier side of the ML scale, only the flatbread sandwiches and salads were $10 or under–and in my book you better make a damn good sandwich if you are going to charge $10. But I did see their window advertised a 30% off “your next fine dining experience at Buk” and they had a table top sign outside promoting $2.50 pizza slices. As luncher “high temp” reports in the forums, the early “reviews” on urbanspoon are of dubious authorship. Any reactions from early adopters?

Buk Balkan Bistro (55 W 55th St, btw 5 + 6th), (212) 541-4723

Katsuhama 55 is Now Open

Lunch’er Brian sends word that the new Katsuhama (on 55th btw. 5+6th) is now open.  He had lunch there yesterday, and was nice enough to send along this report:

Katsu-Hama @55th (exterior)

I really like Katsu-Hama and have been waiting impatiently for the one on 55th to open ever since I saw the notice on midtownlunch as it is much closer to my office. I used to walk down to the one on 47th to eat their katsu lunch special, but it’s a bit of a trek. Even though they promised to open at the beginning of August, it took them until the very last day of the month to open, which made it more of a September opening, but it’s finally here!

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Katsuhama Opening Second Location


When I crave a little Japanese curry rice with fried meat cutlets I usually hit up Go Go Curry (on 38th btw. 7+8th) or Yagura (on 41st btw. Mad+5th), but for a nice sit down splurge Katsu-hama is the jam (on 47th btw. Mad+5th.) which makes this news kind of exciting…  Matsuya Foods, the company that owns Menchanko Tei and Katsu-hama, is turning Onigashmia (the Japanese spot connected to the Menchanko Tei on 55th btw. 5+6th) into a second branch of Katsuhama.  I never tried Onigashima, so I don’t know if this is an upgrade or downgrade… all I do know is it’s good news for any tonkatsu fans working in the northern part of Midtown. They’re hoping to have the location up and running by the end of the month.

Certe’s Thanksgiving Dip is the Greatest Sandwich Ever Created


Ok, well maybe that is a bit of an overstatement… but between this, the duck sandwich at FreeFoods, and the Mexican Cheesesteak from the El Rey del Sabor cart- this Midtown Lunch Sandwich Challenge thing is turning out to be the best thing I’ve ever done for… well… for myself.  Seriously.  I can’t believe how well this is going, and after trying Certe’s “Thanksgiving Dip” (on 55th btw. 5+6th), I am ready to declare this challenge thing a complete success- even if not another sandwich gets made.

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At Lunch Now: Strangest Free Samples Ever


Fresh on the heels of yesterdays post on how to make a complete Midtown Lunch out of free samples comes this ridiculousness.  Free sushi samples, on the street, in the hot sun, from a pizza place.  No joke.  Yesterday, Madrit’s Pronto Pizza on 55th btw. 5+6th added a sushi bar to their establishment, and to generate interest they were giving away free samples today in front of the store. I’d like to pretend like I didn’t try it, but I’m a gross man, and couldn’t help myself.  Luckily I’m still alive to type this…

I don’t think I’ll ever be getting the sushi from Madrit’s Pronto, but they do have a pretty sweet outdoor seating area in the back, so I may have to go back for a slice.

EXPENSED LUNCH: BENOIT: Alain Ducasse has opened is opening the first stateside outpost of his "downscale" French bistro concept, Benoit, and Eater has the first look at the menu and the interior (shot by our very own Downtown Lunch reporter, Daniel Krieger).  Even downscale Ducasse is out of Midtown Lunch'ing price range, but I freakin' love escargot (you may say the secret ingredient is garlic and butter), and this place may be a good option for those of you who get to go out on expense account lunches every once in awhile.  Opening Monday.  60 West 55th St. (btw. 5+6th)

Five Guys is NYC’s Closest Thing to In N Out Burger; Manager Responds to Friday’s Complaints


“Burger was decent, but no way in hell worth the wait,” seems to be the theme of a Friday that was supposed to be the “Grand Opening” of Five Guys on 55th. btw. 5+6th Ave.  I was on a plane to San Francisco on Friday, and missed out on all the excitement, meaning that my Five Guys experience was limited to Thursday’s surprise opening, where the wait time peaked at around 30 minutes.  Not so on Friday, where burger “Early Adopters” were forced to wait over an hour and a half for what is supposed to be fast food.  Comments flooded in, and even Eater covered the madness.

I was pretty angry to have to wait 30 minutes on Thursday, so I can’t even imagine what Friday’s customers were feeling. 

Over the weekend, I got this email from Sal Rincione, the Executive VP of Operations for Five Guys NYC (and “Manager” who was deserved a “big punch in the puss” according to some of Midtown Lunch’s readers):

It was utter madness [Friday]! I would like to go on record saying how much we appreciate the support and the AWESOME turnout.  We humbly apologize for the long wait.

Five Guys normally does call in and faxed orders but due to the high volume [on Friday], we obviously will limit the amount of call in’s and faxed orders we will take [going forward].  Please let everyone know that if you fax in an order, unless you get a VERBAL Confirmation from either myself or my staff, assume we are not preparing the order. Unfortunately, we just dont have enough square footage to handle all of the walk in’s along with the called and faxed orders.

My #1 goal is to make the BEST BURGERS IN NYC! Thanks :)


What I think of the burgers & fries, plus some meat porn, after the jump… Read more »

Kikku… Trying to prove there is such a thing as good, cheap sushi in Midtown

Searching for good, cheap sushi in Midtown has always been a difficult proposition.  It is not hard to find since every single deli now has a sushi bar.  But how cheap is too cheap?  At some point, when raw fish costs too little, you have to wonder whether eating this food that makes no financial sense for the people selling it, is going to make you sick (or taste just plain terrible).  Now, some people can’t or won’t eat cheap sushi, and I can totally appreciate that mentality.  After a meal at Sushi Seki or Soto, it’s easy to understand why there is a group of people (usually with a ton of money) who would never eat cheap sushi.  I’m not one of those people.  I can appreciate both ends of the sushi spectrum- in the same way I can enjoy a fast food hamburger while still appreciating the greatness of a steak from Peter Luger’s.  Similar ingredients, of very different quality, with different preparations.

In the end, it’s all about balance.  The goal- finding something that is not so cheap it’s just gross, but not too good, because then it ends up being too expensive for Midtown Lunch’ing.  I’m pretty excited for the new conveyor belt sushi place opening at the end of the year, but I know in my heart that filling up at Sakae Sushi for under $10 is going to be a very difficult task.  In the end, I can’t seem to find an end all be all for cheap sushi.  There are some delis with decent sushi counters (Cafe Duke is ok, as is Variety Cafe on 48th btw. 5+6th), but none that I would wholeheartedly recommend.  Yummy Sushi in rock center is pretty bad.  Kiiroi Hana, a restaurant that served to go sushi on the sidewalk of 56th St. was pretty good, but it closed.  In the end, even good pre-packaged sushi is still pre-packaged, and your best bet is to find a sit down place with a really good lunch special

My favorite, hands down, used to be Wu Kong on 46th, a Chinese/Japanese combo, but it closed over a year ago- leaving me searching for a replacement.  Taki Sushi on 48th btw. 5+6th is pretty good, but when I wrote about that place I got a ton of people who recomended Kikku on 55th btw. 5+6th, claiming that it is the best cheap sushi in Midtown.

I finally made it down there last week.  What we ordered, and a +/- after the jump… Read more »

First Look: Five Guys Burgers Midtown

It’s official.  The Five Guys on 55th btw. 5+6th has been completed and is planning on opening a week from tomorrow.  Here’s your first look at the interior… (you can see the giant bags of peanuts stacked up in the back, which they give out free for your meal.)

Mark in on your calendars… Thursday, October 25th.  I’ll be the fat guy in the corner, taking a picture of his double cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms & onions (and bag of fries of course).