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East Midtown -- please save me from another Oriental Noodle lunch!

First let me start by saying that I did a board search and not much came up. The leads I found were old or too far to travel for lunch, around E. 30s and such.

I'm new to this E40s/Lexington area and I'm therefore looking to built a list of affordable places with good food for lunch. Following a recommendation I got lunch at Oriental Noodle on 45th St/Lexington which was not merely bad, but vile. The salty, greasy, and plain unedible lunch from Oriental Noodle was the worse Chinese food I have ever had in my life!

Today I walked around and gathered menus from Diwan, Raffles and Chiam.
I ended up buying lunch at Diwan and the food was OK, but at $10.65 I think it was expensive for what it was some rice, some pured lentil dish, and 3-pieces of chicken tandoori. (plus two tiny plastic containers with chutney, and a green sauce, and naan)

Chiam's lunch specials are even pricier at $12.75-15.75. Raffles' prices run the same gamut as Chiam's and up. So am I just out of luck and this is a "can't find a good lunch for less than $10 neighborhood"?

I want to stay within the 42nd Street and 50th Street area.
I don't really care for pizza or pasta, and I don't want to depend on the Soup Nazi on 42nd Street--especially with Summer coming soon. Is there somewhere else good and reasonable in this area?

Thanks in advance for any leads.

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  1. Check out: Dishes & David Burke @ Bloomingdales

    1. RICE is on Lexington and 28th, I think you're inside their delivery catchment. That's my favorite lunch spot in that area.

      I've heard other Chowhounds recommend Grand Sichuan on Lexington between 33rd & 34th.

      If you're near a Hale & Hearty their toss-your-own-salads are really good.

      1. Bloomingdale's is on 59th St. -- well north of your stated geographical parameters. And the Grand Sichuan in the 30's doesn't meet them either.

        Wu Liang Ye, another very good Szechuan restaurant, is in the area you want. It's on 48th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs.


        You could check out 'wichcraft. There are kiosks in Bryant Park, and you can eat at tables there when the weather is conducive. There is also a 'wichcraft on 5th Av., near 44th St. (Note: They offer free wi-fi.



        Akdeniz is a Turkish restaurant on 46th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs. I've not eaten there but have heard very good things about the food. Although many items on the menu may be too costly for your budget, there are a few that are moderately-priced.


        2 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          I tried Wu Liang Ye and liked the food. It was such a joy to find an affordable Chinese place for lunch. I wanted to also add to the list a place which a lot of you may already know about it's on 40 (or 41 can't remember exactly) west 47th street (bet. 5/6 Avenues) It's an Israeli/Jewish restaurant located on the second floor. The menu is small, but their dishes taste home-made. I would recommend their soups and rice dishes, and I also like their mashed potatoes. The roasted chicken can have a bit too fatty, but the meat is nice and moist.
          On my way home I went by China Moon (on E. 47th Street) they have Chinese and Thai menus. I'll be trying the PadThai here next.

          1. re: RGR

            There is a Wu Liang ye on 39th and Lex too. I think it compares favorable to the other braches. Love the chicken with spicy capiscum, double cooked pork and dan dan noodles.

            goodburger on 43rd and 2nd.
            Sophies Cuban on 41st and Lex.
            Kwik Meal cart on 45th and 5th and there used to be one on 46th and Madison but I dont think he is there any more. If you like spicy food, ask for some extra hot sauce, the florescent green one that you have to ask special for.

          2. If you care for Indian food try JOY on 46th btwn Lex & 3rd. Lunch meals start around $6.95 and they serve up good sized portions.

            1. If you're willing to walk over 2 blocks, Cafe Zaiya on 41st between Madison and 5th is amazingly cheap and has awesome bento boxes and sandwiches. Also have a great bakery.

              1. welcome to the hood...and thanks for making this thread! id love to hear more about local spots from my fellow grand central lunch people.

                i like evergreen for chinese food on 38th street, between madison and 5th ave. its consistent and tasty. they dont do soup noodles though =[

                as vicvic mentioned, the japanese food market on 41st is excellent. there are 2 other places flanking it that are also really good, yasuda food market in particular. it doesnt look like much from the outside, but 5 bucks for a udon/soba with chicken cant be beat.

                on 38th between 5th and 6th, theres a really solid kosher eatery named olympic pita that makes awesome lafa falafels, which are basically giant sized falafel sandwiches wrapped in bread thats really similar to indian naan.

                for those annoying days where you cant decide what to eat, take a spin around the food court in grand central. eat-a-pita, juniors, and linnys? (forgetting the name...but they make fantastic pastrami) and more are all housed under one roof.


                1. ooo glad to know there are more of us in the more-eastern-than-real-midtown area. I try to keep my lunch budget to around $5 because I'm poor. That said:

                  Cafe Zaiya is a great option. Cheap and good. I've never eaten at the Yagura supermarket, but it looks decent from the outside.

                  Trini-Pak cart on 6th Ave and 43rd St. About $5 for a large container of chicken and rice that actually tastes like something. They also offer other meals ("doubles"), which I haven't tried.

                  Milant for cheaper but good sandwiches - corner of 39th and 3rd Ave.

                  I've never been, but there's this Filipino steam table place called Bayan that looks interesting - 45th bet. 2nd and 3rd.

                  Oh, since your budget is slightly higher than mine: Menchanko-Tei, a few doors west of your Oriental Noodle. Good ramen and noodle soups. My personal favorite place.

                  1 Reply
                  1. I hate to steer you to another noodle shop, but Mee Noodle on 49th and 2nd is another good, or better, option as Oriental (we do, or we've done, numerous takeouts from both).

                    Donburi-ya is a Japanese in a basement on 47th, between 3rd and Lexington. Good lunch and dinner menu, all freshly prepared.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: RCC

                      Thank you all for your recommendations.
                      I'll be putting all your leads to good use this week, and hope to post about any new, and interesting spots I find along the way. Thanks again.


                    2. youre welcome! i almost forgot to post about chop't salads also. its a bit of a hike (52nd between lex and 3rd) but their salads are effing awesome. im not much of a veggie guy, but i keel over for their po'boy salad. warning: not exactly diet food =P

                      1. The Bistro on 49th (just west of Park) has something for everyone, and is reasonable. Excellent deli with great sandwiches and burritos. A $7 salad with unlimited add-ins (makes a meal and a half!). Very good Mongolian bbq and udon soup bar. Be sure to get there before around 1. They close at 2 (I think) and some items run out by 1:30 (esp. on the salad bar).

                        1. I found an Ecuadorian restaurant in W. 47th street.
                          It's at 74 West 47th Street, 4th Floor (no elevator bldg.)
                          I have tried this place only once, and the food was good and the portion size was also a good size. I think all dishes come with rice & beans, plus salad.
                          They have a daily special "cubierto del dia" which is $6 and includes a drink. For those who like oxtails, they have them every Wednesday (I love oxtails so I always check)

                          One caveat, they're supposed to be open until 3 pm; however, they run out of food well before that time. So if you go, go early.

                          1. Omb/b on 45th btw 3rd and Lex is good - it is Japanese rice balls, and they have some pretty interesting different kinds (spicy tuna, eel, shrimp, crab salad, etc.) Definitely worth a try if you are an adventurous eater.

                            The Amish Market on 45th and 2nd makes great sandwiches, but avoid their sushi. It tastes funny.

                            A lot of people in my office love Goodburger on 2nd and 43rd (I think?)

                            1. There is a Brother Jimmy's in Grand Central Station now... that's a delicious lunch spot, but it kinda leaves you feeling a little sleepy after all of that southern BBQ, so it might be only a once-in-a-while kind of place.

                              1. There's a great little Carribean takeout on 33rd bet. 5th & Mad. I love their rotis ($7 for a hefty portion and very tasty roti wrap) as well as regular lunch/dinner items, such as curried goat/chicken, served with rice & beans. Haven't tried their jerk chicken nor their meat patties yet though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pinkylechat

                                  Are you talking about Golden Krust? If not you must tell me more...but I know there is a Golden Krust on that block...

                                2. potentially helpful, and if not, still enjoyable to read: http://www.midtownlunch.com/

                                  1. I see that this is an old thread... but I used to work near there and I *hated* the Noodle Shop. There was a chinese place i used to go to on 2nd between 43rd and 44th all the time. Much better, I thought. There's also Mee Noodle on 49 and 2 which is pretty good and cheap. Wu Liang Ye is good if you get "real" food, but the lunch specials are as unremarkable there as they are elsewhere.

                                    1. Delis: Cafe Charlie (40th btw 5th & 6th), Milant (3rd & 39th, free soup w. sandwich!), Devon & Blakely (5th between 40th & 41st), Crestello (5th btw 40th & 41st), Hale & Hearty (3rd & 44th), We Liang Ye (39th & Lex), Chipolte (44th btw lex & 3rd), .99 pizza (43rd btw lex & 3rd), etc

                                      1. You can get a heaping plate of oxtails on monday and wednesdays at oriental noodle if they still have that (I haven't been in that area for years), for like 7 dollars. Its pretty good. Its not on the menu, ask the counter person. Greasy is a mainstay of chinese takeout by the way.

                                        Aside from cafe zaiya mentioned , yagura supermarket and chiyoda sushi are on the same block. Both offer cheap options as well.