PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Nathan”

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er to get his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. Today it’s Nathan, a Financial Analyst who after 5 years of toiling away in Midtown is moving to Philly, and wanted his Midtown Lunch moment in the sun before he takes off.  (Oh, and yes- that is him posing in front of Morimoto.)

Name: Nathan


Financial Analyst

Where in Midtown do you Work?:
For the last five years, I have toiled diligently between 50th+57th Streets and between 7th+Madison Avenues

Favorite Kind of Food:
Anything Tasty (see below)

Least Favorite Kind of Food:
1) Burrittos – something about the double-starch whammy of rice and tortilla just does not sit well with my palate, 2) Caesar Salad – especially when my co-worker orders it as a “healthy” option, 3) Average or not-fresh sushi

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown:
1) The vegetarian lunchbox at Bay Leaf Indian Brasserie (on 56th btw. 5+6th.) Since the dishes rotate on a daily basis, you never know what you are going to get!) 2) The Pad Si Ew noodles, Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli and Thai Iced Tea at Wondee Siam II (9th Ave. btw. 53+54th) 3) Beef Tendon with Hot Sauce from Grand Sichuan (on 9th ave., now closed) 4) Swedish Meatballs, Truffle Frites and Homeade Lemonade from F&B Gudtfood (also now closed) 5) Grilled Tofu Steak with Lemongrass from Saigon 48 (48th btw. 7+8th) 6) Beef Empanada, Breaded Chicken with Yellow Rice and Beans from Sophie’s Cuban on 56th btw. 5+6th which has now Morphed Into Tina’s Restaurant, 7) Ramen and Gyoza at Sapporo (49th btw. 6+7th) or Men Kui Tai (56th btw. 5+6th), 8) Lentil or Lobster Bisque Soup at the Soupman (Multiple Locations). Oh- and pretty much everything on the menu at Izakaya Hagi (aka Sake Bar Hagi on 49th btw. 6+7th), but they are not open for lunch.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often?
I answer with “your co-workers” as the key phrase in the prompt: Blockheads, Chop’t Salad (WAY OVERPRICED), Delmonico Gourmet (and other similar generic delis), The Great American Health Bar, Mangia, Cafe Europa, The Pump Energy Kitchen, Hale and Hearty Soups

Place you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? Bon Appetit Pop Up Cafe (Now Gone), Pro Korean (56th btw. 5+6th), FIKA Swedish Espresso Bar (58th btw. 5+6th), Five Guys Burgers (55th btw. 5+6th), Go Go Curry (38th btw. 7+8th), Hallo Berlin Cart (54th & 5th)

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I have not been there yet, but Singapore with its mix of Asian cultures and its gauntlet of hawker stalls.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? One of my favorite dishes is Za Jiang Mein, the Chinese (and also Korean) answer to Spaghetti Bolognese, consisting
of noodles served with a salty black bean / ground meat sauce and garnished with raw vegetables. But I have had trouble finding this dish in New York City, let alone in Midtown. Anybody know of restaurants that feature this dish? Plus- I will be moving to Philadelphia for a few years. Now
that you have read about my favorite New York lunch haunts, do you have any tips on surviving lunchhour in Philadelphia?

So, I don’t know about Za Jiang Mein (the Chinese version) but we tackled the jjajangmyeon question a few weeks ago after I had an ok Korean version at Han Ah Reum (on 32nd btw. 5th+B’way.) There are some good suggestions in the comments of that post. Since then, I had a good (and cheap) version at Shanghai Mong on 32nd btw. 5+6th which I’ll be posting about soon.

As for the Philly thing, that’s a-whole-nother question. Anybody used to work in Philly (or currently work in Philly) and have good suggestions for Nathan? Feel free to post them in the comments.

And as always, if you want to be the next Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er, or you’d like to nominate somebody in your office, email me at


  • Yes, ive ruined nathan’s pulitzer.

  • @ Ivo: Actually, they’re quite different with spiciness being only one of them. Korean: dark, bean based sauce/paste usually eaten w/ kim chee to cut the richness. Chinese: ground pork based, more like a spaghetti bolognese w/ cucumber, cilantro & carrots to cut the richness.

  • Correction: @ Yvo. Sorry…

  • Does anyone know if University of Houston (where DocChuck got his PhDs) is an accredited university – I have never heard of it. I bet it is less prestigious than University of Phoenix.

  • Well, to his credit, the good doctor always does refer to himself as an “educator.” Perhaps the quotation marks say it all…

  • Reading Terminal Market all the way. So much deliciousness packed into that space. DiNic’s Roast Pork Italian…to amazing to describe. Here’s a link to my Reading Terminal Market flickr set:

  • Good luck in Philly, if you work near Chinatown/center city, there are a ton of places where I am sure you can find the chinese version of zha jian mein there. A particular favorite of mine back in the day (not sure if it’s still open) is Joe’s Peking Duck house, two bucks for an enormous and delicious bowl of the best hot and sour soup I’ve ever had. Incredible chow fun and moo shu pork. Peking Duck always came moist and juicy with a nice crispy skin and steamed buns instead of pancakes to wrap them in. Another Joe’s restaurant can be found outside Philly in Marlton, NJ about 15 minutes away.

    Also near Penn was a whole strip of Indian places that all used to have excellent lunch buffets and were also awesome for dinner. Across the street from the Penn Law school is an awesome place called White Dog Cafe that tries to use locally raised ingredients.

    I hope that was helpful, most of my suggestions were based on being a poor student in school down there but I think they’re all still solid choices.

    Also don’t forget to pick a side in the great Pat’s vs. Geno’s vs. whatever debate as to the best cheesesteak in Philly. My decision was made up for me years ago, when I first arrived in Philly, I asked an overweight officer of the law where to go for a cheesesteak and he told me “No brainer, Pat’s.”

  • Univ. of Houston is an accredited institution. I went to law school there – it’s in the first tier. Their health law and intellectual property programs are consistently in the nation’s top 10.

  • you can get zha jiang mein at pretty much any shanghainese restaurant in chinatown, like green bo on bayard street, or shanghai cafe on mott street. the thing about this dish is that it’s often labeled as something else in english, i.e. at green bo, it’s called “spicy meat noodle”, whereas it’s “noodles w/ meat sauce (cha chiang mein)” at shanghai cafe.

  • Za Jiang Mein

    I’ve had pretty good Za Jiang Mein from the dollar “Dumpling House” on Eldridge Street in the LES. This was before the recent renovations but its worth a try.

  • @JustNancy: thanks! I’ve actually only had the Chinese version once (and cried because this was a long time ago, and didn’t expect it to be so spicy), while I first had the Korean version before that and liked it. Now I’m limited to the packaged crap if I’m in the mood.

    PS You know, thanks for correcting that, I’m curious because you’re like, the millionth person to misspell it after seeing it in print only – does it look like an “I”? I just want to know if there’s a reason everyone thinks it’s Ivo… (it’s pronounced ee-vo)

  • the american health bar is great and open pretty late. i hate vegetables but this place manages to make them taste amazing…it’s kind of a miracle!

  • That’s because it’s made of……. PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!


  • The University of Houston is one of the finest institutions of higher learning in Texas, if that excites you.

    It did me.

  • CockChug is obviously referring to his U of H college fraternity initiation, when he “male bonded” by performing a double-reverse anal chug before the goat orgy

  • born and raised in philly. philly has a great selection for food and it will feel SO cheap compared to NYC.

  • Has anyone actually been to Blockheads recently? I thought it was pretty cool.

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