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Everybody in Midtown has a goto lunch, and although I try to eat at new places every week, my wife and I usually fall back on Cafe Duke. Last week, we hit up Cafe Duke for a quick lunch, and I decided to forgo my usual Bi Bim Bap in favor of a few things from the buffet by the lb. I don’t normally do the whole by the lb. thing, because although I love the variety, I can’t stand feeling the need to hold back. Scooping tiny portions, all the time worrying that my lunch is going to end up costing $17. While loading up with my normal items, something amazing stood out to me. They had these amazing looking Jumbo Shrimp that had me wondering “How they hell can they afford to serve Jumbo Shrimp for $7 a lb.????”
I got two, and discovered one of the greatest scams I had ever fallen prey to. They’re not real shrimp!!! I couldn’t believe it. Actually, I could believe it. It reminded me of this thing I once learned about Professional Gamblers. There are teams of gamblers who when a new table game opens up anywhere in the world, they find out about it, and run the numbers, trying to find a single wager that will beat the game. While most are games are tirelessly tested before being put into a casino, every once in awhile a game’s creator will make a mathematical error that leaves the game open to being “broken”. The team will fly to his location, bet the one wager for hours and hours, until the casino realizes their mistake and shuts the game down.
I guess that’s why I wasn’t surprised about the shrimp. Can you imagine if the Jumbo shrimp were real? For $6.99 a lb? Hoards of fat guys (like me) would be crowded around the buffet, loading up on jumbo shrimp… trying to “beat the game”. Thankfully, the fake shrimp were delicious so I wasn’t too upset about being duped. I’m not sure exactly what they are made of, but I’m guessing it is a rice cake type of mixture (or imitation crab meat… although it didn’t have that fake fishy flavor that imitation crab has). The best part about the scam… the “shrimp” are not only colored and shaped to look like shrimp, they even have the indentation where the tail was pulled off. Such detail. It’s like art.
The Midtown Lunch guide to eating at a Buffet by the lb… after the jump.
I am not a big fan of Buffets by the pound- for obvious reasons. Or maybe it’s not so obvious if you are skinny and have any amount of self control. Me, not so much. I love the “buffet” part, but adding those other three words, destroys what is otherwise a wonderful, magical thing. First, I don’t want to know how many pounds of food I’m about to eat (Is it true if you eat 2 lbs of chinese food, you automatically gain two pounds?). Second, I feel hindered. I’m thinking, “Gee what does this weigh?” and “Am I really getting a good weight to price ratio”. Always trying to find that big money item and staying away from super heavy cheapo items like rice, and dumplings (my personal favorite).
Well, I’m happy to say I have finally found a price by the pound buffet that is not only a decent value- but is stocked with my favorite kind of food! Ho Yip, a cheap chinese food place on 45th between btw. 5th & 6th that during lunch has an all chinese buffet by the pound (and the choices are tremendous!). It’s $4.95 per pound- but here’s the real deal. If you go after 2:15pm, the price drops to $3.75 a pound (the late lunch special).
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Late lunch” and “Price drop” at a buffet by the pound does not exactly instill confidence in the freshness of the food you’re getting. But I was very surprised to learn that they restock the buffet just before 2:15 in preparation for the big crowds that come late looking for the deal. Apparently they keep putting food out until they run out. It really is a wonderful thing… if you like cheap and greasy Chinese food (and don’t mind waiting with a horde of other bargain hunters).
My plate, the rest of the menu, something for free(!) and the +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
DAY 4 of Falafel Week
It's day 4 of Falafel Week and I was supposed to go to Miriam's, which I have never seen but was told is on the SW corner of 46th & 6th. It was recommended on Chowhound… but when I walked by on Wednesday it was not there- so for today I decided to go to Bread & Olive (also recommended to me on Chowhound), and find another place for tomorrow.
Bread & Olive has falafel, along with a ton of other options, including chicken and beef schawarma, numerous pastries, vegetable entrees, and what looked like lebanese style flat bread pizza. All of it looked delicious… but alas, this is falafel week, so falafel is what I got.
This is a lebanese place, so a beet juice pickled vegetable made it's first appearance of the week (I'm pretty sure it was turnip, but not positive). It was one of the first layers to go down on top of the fresh baked flat bread- that I believe they make on site (another first for the week). It also had lettuce and slices of tomatos, and then the falafel and tahini, all rolled up burrito style in the flat bread.
A picture of the sandwich, and the +/-, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »