5 Combination for $4 - anyone tried it?
That's the name of this Chinese restaurant - 5 Combination for $4 - or at least I think it is. Its at Centre at Hester. Did a walk-through after a bahn mi lunch so I couldn't indulge. Basically, its an enormous steam table populated by dozens of delectable-looking dishes. You point to five dishes that appeal to you and the servers fill up your plate. Price $4. There are no signs indicating what the dishes are, and the staff don't appear to speak much English. So its a bit of an adventure, it seems.
If you like these types of meals I think the best one is at East Restaurant on Kissena Blvd in Queens. It seems to be the freshest there out of all of them. Probably because they got such a high turn over of food at East Restaurants. Usually the food is of lower grade or going to go bad. Its still good but I'm sure you can taste the difference in quality.
In New York they have them on
1.Centre Street north of Canal
2.Division Street across from Confucius Plaza
3.There is also a small one down the block and they put a bunch of dishes by the window. Not the most cleanest of places but the quality is a little better when I went there once. They pile the food in one bowl and give you another bowl of rice. You get soup of course too. All for around $4.
4.Grand Street btwn Bowery and Chrystie.
5.There are also some smaller owned ones on East Broadway past Allen/Pike Street (going out of Chinatown). They are a little cheaper. Food may be a little better in quality at some places. For what you get and for the price you pay you will still get that satisfying feeling after eating a chinese meal.
As someone pointed out earlier, these are very common and popular in Manhattan's Chinatown and Flushing, Queens, as well as in Manhattan's garment industry and even "higher end" restaurants that set aside a portion of their space for the steam table. I enjoy them a lot and depending on which one you frequent, you can indeed get very healthy, nongreasy selections. The places I go turn over their food quickly--I have to go early to make sure my favorites are available--so they can be fresh as well.
You will find a lot of these places around Chinatown and in many parts of Flushing, Queens. Usually they're 4 entrees and a soup for $4-$5, and the food is fulfilling and good, albeit unhealthy and greasy. Still, I usually have enough left over from lunch to do dinner, so it's a very big steal.
I've been to one of those kinds of places on Division Street (it was 4 items for $3, however). I think they are delicious! Not the absolute best chinese food I've ever had but, c'mon, its so cheap! give it a try. Chances are you will like at least some of the items you choose. Even if you don't, hey, you're out $4