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November 22, 2010

Self-Promotion: I'm profiled in today's NY Post @Work

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If you look on page 38 of today's New York Post, you'll find me looking back at you. I was profiled as part of their @work column in a piece about workers around town who have 'unusual' lunch habits, mine being seeking out new foods and restaurants for Midtown Lunch. Sadly, my photo didn't make the web edition. I'll try to scan it in some time today and post it.

I have to say, it was interesting being on the other side of a photoshoot. Lorenzo the photographer and I wandered back and forth through Koreatown looking for proper backdrops.


Update: See the scan of the printed version after the jump!

Continue reading "Self-Promotion: I'm profiled in today's NY Post @Work" »

November 10, 2010

Analog: Shooting with the Kiev 88

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In my exploration in shooting analog, medium format has fascinated me. That's most likely because it's sort of arcane and the frames are big and square. Unfortunately, I've had a pretty unfortunate track record shooting 120mm film - thus far at least. That's finally starting to change thanks to the the Kiev 88.

Read more about the Kiev after the jump and see photos I've taken with it on Analog UltraClay all week.

Continue reading "Analog: Shooting with the Kiev 88" »

April 1, 2010

Lunch: Single Serve Korean Barbecue at Don's Bogam

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Korean Barbecue is awesome: the big plate piled with meats, the sizzling grill and the smell of all of it cooking in front of you and a group of friends sharing it all. The whole experience is fun and filling and leisurely time-consuming.

The only problem is that it's not so conducive to the lunch schedule and doesn't really scale down for one person so well. Or it didn't, until I found Don's Bogam a couple weeks ago. It sits in relative obscurity a block away from the main Koreatown strip. I happened upon it one day during lunch and decided to give it a try. What drew me in were the lunch specials, which at $12.95 may be outside the Midtown Lunch price range, but still makes for a great bargain for barbecue.

Food and pics after the jump...

Continue reading "Lunch: Single Serve Korean Barbecue at Don's Bogam" »

March 28, 2010

Recently on Midtown Lunch: Lines and Lent

Village Voice Choice Eats 2010

This week, I covered Monday's Village Voice Choice Eats, a food festival featuring over 60 restaurants. The good news is that there was plenty of good food and even though I had to stand in a line for an hour, which is totally something I don't do, I managed to stuff myself quite well before the crowd became so ridiculous that I had to bail.

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The Friday before that, I got a chance to meet up with my ML colleagues for a Lenten Lunch of all the seafood dishes under $10 at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. That was pretty fantastic, even for a heathen like me who has no idea when Easter is and tends not to eat a lot of fish. Brownie, of Blondie and Brownie posted a recap of the meal the other day.

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I'm so going back up to GCT for one of those Po Boys. Like, this week. The Rock Shrimp sandwich, above, was pretty fantastic too. I'd love to get a cup of the shrimp and eat them like popcorn. It was great to meet and trade notes with B&B, Jason of Me So Hungry, Amy of Amy Blogs Chow and Jenn.

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Most of my Midtown Lunch coverage this month has been stalking Kyochon, the new Korean Fried Chicken joint that opened, closed briefly to bad reviews and opened up again. That's all still in progress, so I'll have to get back to you on that in a week or so.

March 10, 2010

Recently on Midtown Lunch: Pizzacones

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This is a pizzacone. It's an odd little invention that captured the fascination (and for some, disgust) of the blogosphere last week.

This pizza in a cone concept was introduced to the Manhattan eating audience for the first time when K! Pizzacone opened up to much attention last Monday. I had a front row seat covering it for Midtown Lunch.

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I'm not a stodgy traditionalist in pizza or much else, but giving a balanced report on something so weird was a struggle. While I did appreciate the opportunity to eat a wad of melted cheese, I think I'll stick with those boring flat pizzas I've known so well over the years.

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My report last week on Izakaya Moku, on the other hand, was no trouble at all. The latest in a trend of Korean-run Japanese restaurants offers a pretty good lunch deal and I made a point of doing as much -ahem- research as I could. Strictly for research purposes, I assure you.

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It may not be the best Japanese food in the city, but Moku and the other new places in Koreatown offer some very good options within walking distance of my office. If nothing else, I'm psyched to finally have a nice bowl of pork ramen available nearby.

What I'm really interested in is checking out the after work menu, which is far expanded and includes yakitori and various other izakaya fare. I think an Examiner post is in order.

Stay tuned.

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January 7, 2010

On Examiner: Korean Barbecue

Kunjip Slideshow, by clay williams

After a lull in coverage, I'm back on Examiner posting about late night foods. This week's focus was on 24 hour Korean Barbecue in Koreatown. It's a wonderful thing.

Look at those ribbons of meat, ready for a ser on the grill. It's even better with a charcoal fire, but there aren't so many of those any more -- probably for the best at the places that cater to the post-karaoke crowd at 4am...

I'm also trying to find more events, parties and shows in the next couple weeks to cover for Examiner. If you know of any, let me know in the comments.

January 4, 2010

Lunch: Haru Hana adds a new Japanese option in Koreatown

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This afternoon I had lunch at the new Japanese restaurant in KoreaTown, Haru Hana. It calls itself a Japanese Pub and stocks many of the izakaya favorites I know and love, but the decor and crowd, particularly on a Monday afternoon was much more subdued than all that.

Signs prominently advertise that they are open 24 hours a day, so I'll have to report in again after a late night visit. In the meantime, here's what I had for lunch.

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I passed on the katsu and udon, which I've had quite a bit of in the last month or so and chose a broiled eel rice bowl. I love Unagi. The sweet syrup that coats the top of the eelskin and gets soaked up by the rice is a thing of beauty.

I also tried a couple of the skewers to see what that was all about. Here I had one with bacon-wrapped sausages and the other with chicken and garlic. The sausages were sweetly tangy , like those I had the last time I visited Go Go Curry. Being wrapped in bacon, it's an automatic win. The chicken skewers sported leg meat and garlic cloves toasted until the two were visually indistinguishable. Thankfully, I noticed the different in texture before biting into the garlic by mistake. The flavors may have mellowed out as it grilled, but I don't think my co-workers would really appreciate the difference

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I do have to say one thing about the yakitori. They were wonderful, but after years of eating Japanese skewers at izakaya after izakaya, I have come to expect an open kitchen where I can watch the flames lap at the meat leaving bits of char and juices dripping. When I don't see them, it doesn't detract from the experience exactly, but I notice that it's not there.

Really though, it's not hard to tell when you look at the space. The restaurant is shotgun-style, like many of the other ground floor spaces on the block. There's precious little space to offer up for the ceremony of open cooking.

The menu is widely varied, with everything from Tonkatsu to Udon to Yakitori to sushi. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Most Japanese restaurants tend to focus on one cuisine and do it really well, so it's a little unusual. That said, the dishes I had were wonderful and I'll be happy to work my way through the menu to take advantage of the of all that variety.

Haru Hana
28 W 32nd St
Between Fifth Ave and Broadway
KoreaTown
212.736.5393


December 14, 2009

Lunch: Arang -- Japanese Fusion in KoreaTown

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According to Midtown Lunch, Arang in KoreaTown used to be Korean/Sushi Buffet. ML also reported that they had shut down. I discovered it after that, once they had revamped and got rid of the buffet.

They still specialize in the Korean and Japanese, but the buffet has been scuttled. Now, you can order one of a number of bentos, like the one above with kalbi or lunch specials of Tonkatsu.

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I'm on a katsu kick these days, so the last time I was there I tried out the Cheese Donkatsu. I can't name too many Asian foods that work with cheese, so it take a moment to wrap your head around. But then, as I've observed before, katsu is just schnitzel. And fried, breaded things can be quite tasty with cheese.

The crust is crisp, the cheese is gooey and the katsu sauce adds a sweetness to it that can be unsettling at first, but works pretty well.

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On an earlier visit, I tried their Curry Katsu just to see how it stood next to Go Go Curry. The answer is that there's no comparison. It's entirely different. Arang's curry sauce is chock full of potatoes and carrots and chunks of meat. It's thinner in texture than the dense sauce of Go Go, but there's so much stuff in it that it doesn't really make a difference.

The best part of all these lunch specials is that they are reasonably priced for a sit down meal, with most if not all specials under $10. The place is rarely crowded during lunch hours, so it's a good place to go when you need a break from being surrounded by office mates all day.

Arang
9 West 32nd Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 947-3028

August 10, 2009

Lunch: MFC (formerly Bon Chon)

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A month or so ago the Bon Chon Chicken in Koreatown (and I believe the location in Flushing) suddenly changed its name to Mad For Chicken. According to Midtown Lunch, this is a familiar story:

Ah yes- the old open a franchise... steal the recipe... decide you don't want to pay the royalties anymore game. If this whole thing sounds familiar, it's because it is. Shorty's (on 9th Ave. btw. 41+42nd) did the same thing to Tony Luke's. Thankfully for Midtown Lunch'ers one commenter is reporting that the chicken pretty much tastes the same as it always has, but I'm guessing it still takes forever to get your order. Thanks to Lunch'er Paul for passing along this link to the Bon Chon Website.

I stopped in for lunch before a couple weeks ago and can verify that on all counts, things are about the same. The chicken was the same, if slightly spicier and the service was just as slow.

I will say this though, the place did seem more crowded that I had ever seen it during lunch. And the waiter actually warned me that the food would take about 45 minutes, which I don't think I've ever seen before - it always takes that long, they just don't usually warn you.

July 16, 2009

Lunch Explorations

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I complain about the culinary wasteland that is Midtown, but all things considered, I'm in a relatively good spot to eat if I take a little more than the customary 15 minutes to grab something quick and eat at my desk.

Last week, Tammi and I started working on losing some weight. I refuse to call it a diet, but healthier living is probably for the best, so we'll see what happens. There may be some mention of it here and there on the blog, but if you want weekly updates on such things, see Ed Levine. That's not my thing.

Here's where it's relevant: One of my goals is to walk more and I figure what's more motivating for me that food? So, I'm trying to get out to some of those places that are pretty close to my office, but further than I would usually consider for lunch. Think 2nd Avenue, Curry Hill or Chelsea. All within 10 blocks of my office, but outside of the 2 block radius I typically lock myself into.

My trip to Baoguette was my first such excursion. My goal is to do this at least once a week. If nothing else, it should make for some more interesting eating options which can't be bad.

April 27, 2009

Kyochon Still Under Construction

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In the last week, Midtown Lunch reported the news that the KoreaTown announced Kyochon will not be opening for another couple months.

Today I peeked in the door and what I saw pretty much confirms that. Here are a few pics of the demolition still in progress:

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March 23, 2009

Lunch: Little Italy Pizza

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This is the Marinara Mozzarella Pizza from Little Italy Pizza a block away from my job. It's no bargain at $3.50 a slice, but it's one of my favorite slices in New York, so I end up here almost every week.

Constructed counter-intuitively with thick slices of cheese directly on top of the crust then topped with dollops of sauce which leave thick puddles of sweet tomato and shredded basil on every slice.

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For all the wonders of the topping, the crust adds a dimension lacking in most regular slices: The inner layer is soft and chewy, complementing the slight resistance in each bite of the firm cheese. By contrast, the bottom layer is crisp and slightly charred, dotted with sprinkles of breadcrumbs all along it.

The sign says Little Italy Pizza, but it doesn't appear to be at all related to the much better known Little Italy on Vanderbuilt near GCT. Looking it up on Google Maps, the closest hit I get is "Big George Pizza," with an address on the corner, 2 doors down from the actual space. Whatever the pedigree, they must be doing something right given the recent expansion into the tobacco shop next door. That's a good thing

Little Italy Pizza
33rd Street between 5th and Madison.

March 20, 2009

Spring in Midtown

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Despite the snowfall this morning, today is the first day of Spring. Wednesday we got a preview of the season with highs around 60. My fellow Midtown denizens and I rushed out and took advantage of the opportunity to spend some time in the sun for lunch.

That evening, Tammi and I grabbed a round at Mé bar, which was full about 15 minutes after this shot was taken.

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Of couse, the next day we got rained on, a preview of April showers no doubt. Regardless, we'll ake what we can get.

March 16, 2009

Markets: HMart

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HMart is so ridiculously convenient to my office that I would probably love it just for being there even if it wasn't such an excellent source for otherwise obscure or hard to find ingredients.

Right in the middle of the KTown strip, stopping there on the way home takes me all of a block out of my way.

Marbled Short Ribs

Add to that the fact that I can get beef short ribs, pork belly, udon noodles and a vast array of Asian spices and condiments, and I'm amazed I'm not there every day.

H Mart NYC
25 W 32nd St # 1
New York, NY 10001
(212) 695-3283

Lunch: The Curry Cart

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There are few things I miss from my days of working in and around Times Square, but the street food definitely ranks up there. Unlike most of Midtown, the Murray Hill/Herald Square/Empire State Building area has a pathetically light Street Food population. When I read Midtown Lunch's pieces on carts and trucks serving all manner of food from Middle Eastern to Jamaican to Korean, I pine for Midtown North in a way I never really thought possible. Not that being below 23rd Street wouldn't be vastly better in all regards, but it's relative.

Besides a couple hot dog carts with pretzels and shish kababs, this cart, on the corner of 32nd and 5th Avenue is the only consistently available vendor of street meat. It's sad. But he's good and always has a decent crowd, so I'm sure he's not going anywhere any time soon. Until I stood there last week taking pictures while I waited in line, I had never noticed a name on the cart. Apparently it's E&G Pyramid Halal Cart.

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This is my usual: Chicken curry and lamb on yellow rice, topped with hot sauce and white sauce. Love it.

On the side he throws in some iceberg and a couple tomato chunks along with some sauteed cabbage, which is pretty tasty. But the main event is the meat. The chicken is season with a great curry mixture that I've tried and failed to replicate at home. It's spicy, but not over the top. The lamb is pre-cooked gyro meat, but he sears it on the griddle until it's got a great crispy char on the outside that adds depth to the blend of flavors and textures.

When I want something smaller, I just have the chicken wrapped on a pita. The mixtures of the sauces and the curry soak into the thick walls of the pita and become a medium for the combined flavors.

So, while I wish there was a bigger variety of street food in the area, at least part of that desire is so that I'd have a shorter wait to come back to this one.

March 11, 2009

Lunch: By Mandoo, Denied

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Weeks ago, I went to a dumpling party at Eric and Marni's. It reminded me that I had yet to partake in one particular treat in Koreatown, Mandoo, a dumpling and noodle house where the food is prepared fresh in the window for all to see. I've been passing it for some time, but always put off by the rather intimidating line that often stretches out the door.

Over and over since then, I have tried to pop in before the lunch rush, to no avail. I've avoided the option of calling in an order largely because it would require me to eat them at my desk, when I want to enjoy them uninterrupted by work-related nonsense. I hold onto it as my last ditch attempt. More to come...

March 3, 2009

Lunch: Golden City

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It's easy to forget Golden City is there. Between name changes, a move across the street last year, and an innocuous location in the middle of 33rd Street, it seems more like it's trying to elude attention than attract it.

Honestly, the Chinese food selection blends in with thousands of others across the city. And the buffet in the front has an anemic selection of offerings that I rarely give a second look.

What makes it worth remembering is the other cuisine. Behind Golden City's Chinese menu is an entirely different offering: Vietnamese food. Pho, Pork Chops, Summer Rolls, the whole shebang. Sadly, no Banh Mi sandwiches, but I make do with what I can get.

Before I discovered Pho 32 in Koreatown, this was where I went whenever I needed a hot bowl of soup on a crappy day. It's still a good backup if the crowds on 32nd Street are too much. Meat selections are standard, offering Brisket, Sirloin, Tripe and Tendon.

The star of the show to me, is the Pork Chop lunch special seen here. For $6.50, I get a pile of thinly sliced chunks of grilled pork on top of fried rice.

While the char is not quite as intense as I'd like, the coating of juices that permeate every bite more than makes up for it.

It also makes up for the odd music that was playing last time I was there. It was a compilation of pan flute music including "My Way" and "Take on Me." Yes, "Take on Me."

While I can't vouch for the music, the pork is wonderful.

In case of any confusion, here's a picture of the shop, with all three names clearly on display:

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February 11, 2009

Lunch Returns to Bon Chon!

Bon Chon Drumstick

I first wrote about Bon Chon Chicken almost two years ago, inspired by the buzz in the Times and on the blogs. A few weeks later I tried to take go with a co-worker and they had stopped serving lunch. I was crushed.

Yesterday, hours after getting the skinny on Kyochon, Midtown Lunch had another post about Bon Chon. Apparently it's been open for lunch for months and no one knew!

So, today after a particularly aggravating morning at work, I recovered with a Medium Hot & Spicy Combo:

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It was all I remembered: sweet and sticky with a tingly with a subtle spice that builds after the first two, three, four pieces. I stopped there out of a modicum of self-control, but also because I needed to proselytize. I brought back a handful of wings and gave them to the co-workers I knew would appreciate them. My first stop was the guy who missed out the first time. I felt I owed him.

What I had forgotten about was the particularly long wait time for the food. Despite the mostly attentive service and ordering as soon as I sat down, my order took about 35 minutes to show up. So, it's not a quick lunch, but it's delicious.

February 10, 2009

Kyochon, Coming Soon

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I've been passing this sign for a couple weeks now on the corner of 32nd and 5th Avenue, mere blocks from my office, but I had no idea what KyoChon was. Today I got the scoop from Midtown Lunch (which linked to my Pho post last week - thanks!):

Kyochon, the Korean fried chicken chain with U.S. branches in Flushing and L.A., is replacing the Brooklyn Bagel Cafe on 32nd and 5th in Koreatown. Called the "granddaddy of the Korean fried-chicken scene" Kyochon features fried chicken flavored with soy sauce, garlic, and ton of spices... oh, and there are spicy version available. And of course, the most important thing... it's open for lunch! No word on when it will open, but it can't be soon enough.

I'm so happy to hear about this as the two best Korean Fried Chicken places that I know around here are bars that don't open until 4pm.

March 28, 2007

Bars: Mé Bar

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Spring is here. Yesterday New York had the warmest day of the year so far. It got up to 78, which beats the hell out of the frigid temperatures we had for most of the second half of winter.

After work Eric and I met up at Me Bar on the roof of the La Quinta in Koreatown. The bar is small and remarkably unglamorous, considering how fancied up so many roof bars can be. I got there just around 6pm, which is apparently the perfect time. When I got there, only two or three of the outdoor tables were taken, by the time Eric got there around 6:45, it was standing room only.

The beer selection was unexpected. It had some of the usual generic beer, but it also had some relatively obscure mid-shelf beers as well. I drank Red Hook ESB and Anchor Porter, Eric had Kirin. They also stocked Sol, a Mexican beer that you don't find in too many places.

Continue reading "Bars: Mé Bar" »

March 5, 2007

Bon Chon Chicken

All this talk of wings inspired me to finally check out some of the Korean fried chicken that I've been hearing about recently. I first read about it when The New York Times wrote about it. After writing the last post, I had a craving for more chicken wings, so I IM'ed Eric, who was down, obviously.

It's just around the corner from the main strip of Koreatown, 32nd Street between 5th and Broadway. I knew it was on the second floor, so I was expecting a non-descript side door to get in. It was definitely non-descript - and totally sketchy. There was a hand-written sign next to the elevator that said, "Elevator was broken, use stairs. Bon Chon Chicken." I walked down the hall to the dark stairway with a broken first step and wondered exactly where the hell I was going. The second floor landing was unlit, all that was there was a single, unmarked door. I had no idea if this was the right place and sort of wondered what sort of hole it was going to be.

Continue reading "Bon Chon Chicken" »


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