Small correction: It was Zen Palate. If the food was as horrible as what is served at their flagship location on 9th Av., then I think it's no great loss. Can't say anything about Fatty Crab since I've never been.
Chat and Chew, just off the square on E. 16th street is dependable and in your price range. http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/... Give them a call first, however, someone mentioned they might be closed for renovations.