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Manhattan on a diet?! :O

I'm a LA chowhound, turned NYC chow, turned back to LA....for now...

I'm coming to NYC for three weeks and NEED to stick to healthy eating (for the most part) while I'm in town! I'm a roll with my diet lately and I don't want to come back 10 pounds heavier (which could be soooo easy to do!)

Can you please recommend places to eat where I could get good food and not feel guilty about blowing my diet?

My requirements:
I'm open to ANY cuisine.
I would prefer it be on the cheaper side.
I would prefer it to be anywhere except for UWS or anywhere too far uptown for that matter.
I'm not on any fad type diets like Atkins. Just lower fat, lower calorie, fresher foods.

Thanks in advance! :)

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  1. How about:

    * Perfectly fresh, grilled fish at Ethos (Murray Hill / Kip's Bay) or Pylos (LES) -- about $30 for dinner

    * Or try the pho or bun at Nam Son on Grand st. in Chinatown for $10 or less

    1. The salmon teryaki/miso soup/miniature postage stamp piece of strawberry shortcake lunch pre-fixe at Cafe Zest on 47th. (not available every day, I believe). If you want, get it without the shortcake, although it might be good for a tiny indulgence, its very small but nice.

      Frankie's Spuntino--delicious, reasonable portion of sweet potato and sage ravioli. The filling's combination of richness(sweet potato/chestnut) and herbaciousness(sage) is great and really comes through prominently. I wouldn't say the quality of the pasta texture is what you get at other places, but you'll forget all about that from the truly delicious filling.

      The pricepoint at both of these places is unusually low for the quality(I believe $10 at Zest, $13 at Frankie's). Neither of these places will leave you overstuffed/breaking a non-atkins diet, but you'll be eating very well at a nice price.

      1. Also, Jean Georges and Nougatine have plenty of delicious light fare--the tuna ribbons/scallops for example at the former, the slow cooked salmon at the latter(caveat have only had there once and was in the summer/a different preparation). Plenty of great seafood around the city, roast chicken options, etc..

        3 Replies
        1. re: brettnyc

          Another thought--I believe there are a number of (japanese) places in mid-town east that do homemade tofu dishes, been meaning to check more of them out for that.

          1. re: brettnyc

            aburiya kinnosuke has really lovely homemade tofu, also some pretty low-fat robata grill items.

            Aburiya Kinnosuke
            213 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

            1. re: cimui

              Second Aburiya. Just had lunch there and the tofu was great.

              On the other hand, tried going to Cafe Zest beforehand and looks like they've had some kind of management change. Its the second time I've popped in this week with the salmon teryaki/cream stew w chicken/other specials not available, ditto regarding several varieties of their bento boxes, side dishes, and the curry pan. I asked one of the women at the cash register what was up and she said there had been a change in management, and that the previous pre-fixe menu specials wouldn't be returning, unfortunately. They have some udon specials now that I'll try at some point, although if I remember right they had those before as well. Hard to tell if they're downscaling, or just in a chaotic transition, where they've taken away some of the items and just haven't brought out replacements. Hoping for a return of the pre-fixes/wider bento selection/curry pan, or at least some interesting new items...

              In the meantime, plenty of other good spots in the area, though I really like Zest(in full form) and prefer to Zaiya in this particular niche.

          1. Spring Street Natural--great brunch, lunch or dinner. Very fresh, many organic options, healthy but delicious. Atlantic Grill--nice seafood preparations, raw bar.

            1 Reply
            1. Soba Koh for a delicious, light meal.

              1. Given the cold weather, I love soon dobu - spicy Korean tofu soup (with meat, seafood or vegetables) - it's rich tasting, and the tofu is delicious. Try Seoul Garden or I hear good things about BCD Tofu House in K-Town.

                In chinatown, try sauteed snow pea leaves (dou miao) or water spinach (ong choy), or any of the tofu casseroles. Cantoon Garden is a wonderful Cantonese restaurant and the portions are generous.

                Second the recommendation for Ethos - the grilled fish is fantastic. Or try the grilled whole fish at Pearl Oyster Bar. Note, raw oysters are low in calories, high in protein and delicious! Mussels are actually also fairly low calorie, just try not to eat any frites that are served with the mussels.

                On the cheaper side, try Cafe Mogador in the East Village - tasty Mediterranean and vegetarian options.

                1. The Village Natural in the West Village, Cafe Angelica in the East Village on E 12th St., Maoz falafel for takeout, the Hummus Place, Molyvos on the Upper West Side, Perbacco in the East Village.

                  1. In addition to the great suggestions made by the other posters here, there's always the old standby of the salad bar/soups at Whole Foods. Just avoid things like the samosas at the Indian steam table. There are several locations in Manhattan:

                    Time Warner Center (59th Street on West side)
                    Chelsea (24th and 7th Ave)
                    Union Square (14th and Broadway)
                    Soho (Bowery and Houston)
                    Tribeca (Greenwich and Murray)

                    I think portion control is really important. Restaurants generally give portions that are so much larger than what a lot of people would probably eat at home. I know it's really difficult to do when you're on the road as most people don't have reheating/cooking facilities. If you're full, don't push yourself to finish your food. If you can't take it with you, just have them pack it up. There are so many homeless people here whom I'm sure would appreciate some food. When I travel outside of NYC, I just leave the food near a trash can (to the exasperation of DH who thinks I'm littering).

                    1. For great vegetables downtown, I like Westville East/Westville. I like to order the lemon grilled chicken with 2 choices of veggies. out of a list of about 2 dozen vegetable-sides to choose from, you can certainly have a choice to things.

                      1. Some of the links on here are chain-type or takeaway/fast food type": Better Burger, Energy Kitchen, Pump, Whole Foods, etc. They aren't bad, of course! Those of us who live here eat there (I happen to dig an egg white veggie wrap with hot sauce from Energy Kitchen!). But they aren't exactly going to give you ANY ambiance or give you a taste of NY.

                        If you say away from pubs, most restaurants have fish dishes or grilled meats. Mussels are very popular right now, too. Assuming you get the version steamed in white wine, or with tomatos/garlic, obviously.

                        I know you don't want to go too far uptown, but 2 good options I used to hit on the UES were Beyoglu (turkish) for their grilled chicken or swordfish kebabs, or Persephone(persian) for grilled chicken or fish. I know Beyoglu is open for lunch and I happen to love their house salad (which is also available on the dinner menu - $11-ish, I think)

                        But, some other folks had some great suggestions! And sushi is always a great go-to.

                        Just order intellegently from the menu and if you are with a friend, split an entree so you don't feel like you have to eat the whole thing (assuming you won't have access to a fridge to keep the leftovers).

                        And congrats on your hard work! This city can be super tempting. When my folks come to visit, they always joke that you can have a week's worth of meals on just about every block :-)

                        And go to menupages.com to view menus ahead of time.

                        1. A few more:

                          - Green Table in Chelsea Market (9th ave and w. 16th) serves very fresh, simply prepared dishes made out of organic and mostly local ingredients. There is always a fresh seafood option (current listed sample menu has seared scallops) and vegetarian option, or you could have several healthy, fresh, vegetable-laden appetizers for a meal. The restaurant is tiny and cozy and thoroughly pleasant. Service is really nice.

                          - I know you prefer not to go uptown, but Kefi on the UWS might really be a good fit for you. It's healthy, relatively inexpensive Greek that uses lots of beautiful, fresh vegetables and privileges grilling over every other technique.

                          - Kyotofu in midtown west (or Hell's Kitchen depending on whom you ask) has some very pleasant, lowfat options, too. You should know that the restaurant is very dessert centric, but there are a lot of very healthy desserts on offer, too (i.e. black sesame silken tofu with roasted green tea syrup and goji berry). Savory dishes that I've enjoyed recently are the pumpkin / roasted chestnut soup, warm, simmered house made tofu (which i notice they don't always have), simmered lotus root small plate, and tsukune small plate.

                          - Chennai Garden (and Saravannas) are good for South Indian, which can be low fat and healthy. Chennai Garden has more of a restauranty feel to it (while S evokes more of a cafeteria feel). Chennai Garden will make your dosas with only a trace amount of oil (around the edges so they can wedge a spatula under) if you ask. Their masala filling is carby, but not too fat laden. Utthapams are low fat as are iddlies with sambar. Dosa and utthapam are relatively high in protein because of the lentil flours in the batter and the lentils in the sambar. Avial would be another delicious, healthy option.