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I think I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. I love food courts. What’s there not to like? It’s like 20 cheap restaurants, all under the same roof. Sure I always get the Chinese food, or the Chinese food knock off (bourbon chicken I’m looking at you)… but having the options (whether you use them or not) is great- because if you go with other people, everyone can get what they want. So when I want Chinese food (which I always do), my wife and I can go to a food court even if she doesn’t want Chinese food, because there’s other things for her to get! It’s a fool proof scheme…
There aren’t many food courts in Manhattan (you’ve gotta go to a mall in the suburbs for that), but there are a few. And one, that seems like it should be amazing, is the Grand Central Terminal Food Court. One walk through this place, and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to food court heaven. No wasted space on generic fast food joints like McDonalds or BK, and they have all the requisite food options (Chinese, Sushi, Indian, Cajun, Caribbean, BBQ, Pizza, and more.)
And yet, for a food court- with a ton of options- right in the middle of Midtown, it’s not nearly as crowded as you would think. None of the places have lines, and we didn’t have too much trouble finding a place to sit. To top it off, I get emails all the time recommending places to eat in Midtown. Very few “good” (a relative term of course) or popular places have gone unrecommended. And yet, nobody has ever recommended the food court, or singled out any of the choices in an email.
A superficial look at the options, more pictures, and a call to arms… 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 »
Fresh off my disappointment of no Hallo Berlin Cart on Wednesday, I was forced to find lunch in an area I haven’t eaten in before. Walking back to work, I went down 52nd Street between 5th and 6th where I found a bunch of lunch options. But because of my “condition”, one stood out as the clear choice. Yips.
I am addicted to cheap chinese food… and Yips is the kind of place I have trouble walking by. The food is right there, in all it’s steam plate glory… calling to you… “Please point to me”. With all the choices right there, waiting to be picked in any number of combinations, it’s hard for me not to eat at these kinds of cheap chinese food places… so right off the bat, I can say- if you are not into this kind of eating, Yips is not going to be the place to change your mind.
Most places like this suffer from the same problems. Is the food authentic? Usually not. Is it as fresh as it could be? Usually not? Is it restaurant quality? Usually not… and Yips is no different. But it’s got a lot of choices, and many of them you don’t normally see at places like this. Garlic (Salt & Pepper) Shrimp, Honey Roast Pork, Curry Fish Balls, Spicy Thai Chicken, Some sort of fried cutlet, and numerous soups joined the usual suspects. And they had a Tue&Thurs. specials board, so it appears as if they change some of their items around every few days.
When you walk in, there are three or four different places you can get in line to pick your food. On first glimpse, they look mostly the same, but some of them have different things. Usually I like to ignore the menu, and just order with my eyes… but here that’s a little tough because there are a few different places to order. My suggestion would be to look up at the bulletin boards hanging behind each station, and choose which line to get in based on that. There are a ton of choices, and the board (while it doesn’t seem complete) will help you to at least narrow it down.
What I ordered, and the +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
I am a huge fan of chinese food, in all its forms. Dim Sum, Chinatown, cheap, upscale, authentic or american style, mall food court, street fair and of course- the almighty chinese buffet (my personal favorite). Cheap chinese is one of my favorite lunch choices. You might say it's a disease. If given the choice between Chinese, or anything else under the sun, I find it hard to turn down the chinese. Sometimes my mind and my stomach might be saying something else (sandwich, salad, Italian, Indian) but if god forbid, there's a cheap chinese place (one where you point to what you want) from here to there, the chinese will probably win out.
You can't deny the genius of the cheap chinese food place. You get to see all your choices before selecting and it's great if you like variety (most places give you 2 or 3 choices). Further proof is the fact that every mall food court has one of these places, and even the non-chinese places have started serving some sort of "chinese" style chicken, in those little metal steamer compartments, that you point at to order … my favorite being Bourbon chicken at the Cajun Grille. Is there really a difference between that and teriyaki? Don't get me wrong, I love authentic chinese food too. I love Dim Sum and am a big fan of Chinatown (not just NYC, but Boston, San Fran, and L.A) and the more authentic chinese areas outside of big metropolitan cities, like Monterrey Park (the real L.A. chinatown)… and this is the beauty of Hing Won. It's got both.
More on Hing Won, Pictures and the +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »