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Looking for lunch near Penn Station

I'll be in the city for a seminar next week, and will have an hour's break for lunch. I'll be right near Penn Station @ Eighth Avenue. I don't mind walking (assuming we don't get another really humid day) but of course any walking time takes away from the break.

Likes: spicy food; less mainstream stuff.
Dislikes: Italian food, Americanized Chinese, deep fried foods.

Absolutely no chain restaurants.

I'd like to be able to sample something I can't get out here on Long Island. A good cart (like those Vendy Award sort of places) would also be fine.

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  1. You'll be right near Little Korea. The only place we've been to there is Kang Suh, on the corner of B'way & 32nd.

    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

    1. How about some Sichuan? Grand Sichuan on 24th & 9th or Szechuan Gourmet on 39th btw 5th & 6th? Both are excellent.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620374

      You could also look into Koreatown options:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7112...

      I'd send you to Madangsui for Korean BBQ but I think they have a two person minimum for the grilled dishes.

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      Madangsui
      35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

      Szechuan Gourmet
      21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

      11 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Well, there's some pretty good Korean out here on LI, so that would be an option, but nothing I haven't had many times before.

        I'd been to Szechuan Gourmet once before and was pretty disappointed by the poached chicken & crispy soy beans w/ chili-sesame soy; it was drenched in oil. Not oil remnants from stir fry, but literally soaking in about a cup of sesame oil. I ended up patting the chicken out with a paper towel, which became translucent halfway through.

        1. re: Scott_R

          Perhaps Grand Sichuan in Chelsea is a better bet?

          Also SG's menu is huge, and I've definitely had clunkers there. The over-oiled chicken does sound a bit much.

          1. re: Scott_R

            The area directly around Penn Station is not exactly choc-a-bloc with great lunch options in general, to say nothing of something that would meet your requirements. And with only an hour, it's hard to come up with good places that don't entail a decent walk.

            I know nothing about street carts because I never patronize them. But kathryn knows a lot about them, and if she hasn't mentioned any, it probably means there are no good ones in the vicinity.

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

            1. re: Scott_R

              Perhaps Szechuan food is not for you. Szechuan food definitely tends to be oilier than Cantonese food.

              My favorite chicken and rice cart is the Trini-Pak cart on 43rd and 6th Ave. It's a 10-minute walk from Penn. You can eat it at Bryant Park (42nd and 6th Ave). Cafe Zaiya around 41st and 6th (in the Kinokuniya bookstore) has some Japanese dishes that you probably can't find as easily in Long Island such as musubi, donburi, bento boxes). I think you would also like Go Go Curry (Japanese curry) on 38th Street and 8th Ave. Djerdan is on 38th between 7th and 8th for Balkan food. Minar is on 31st between 5th and Bdway for Indian. There's a Indian chaat place on 6th Ave between 37th and 38th street for different types of chaats. There's Kati Roll on 39th between 5th and 6th for spicy Indian meats and/or veggies wrapped up in parathas.

              If that's too far for you, there's a Wichcraft (Tom Colicchio's sandwich place) on 32nd and Broadway.

              -----
              Go Go Curry
              273 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

              Minar
              5 W 31st St, New York, NY 10016

              Djerdan
              221 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

              Cafe Zaiya
              1073 6th Ave, New York, NY 10018

              Wichcraft
              245 Park Ave, New York, NY 10167

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Djerdan sounds promising--I don't recall anything like it here on LI (I like the Bosnian Special.. or is that a lot of food for lunch?). Indian food we have aplenty--if you're ever in the Hicksville area, the stretch on the Rt 107 corridor has been called "Little Punjab": Indian places of all sorts up and down the road.

                Looks like I'll also have the time to grab dinner, so maybe I'll try Go Go Curry, too.

                1. re: Scott_R

                  Definitely try Go Go Curry - it suits your interests. Just beware the place looks very divey and is covered in baseball memorabilia and gorillas but the food is great! Get the katsu as a topping!

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                  Go Go Curry
                  273 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

                  1. re: stephaniec25

                    Third Go! Go! Curry (gotta have the exclamation marks) and yes, definitely get the katsu topping. It's not spicy, but delicious nonetheless. Also they do free toppings all the time - different days of the month, etc.

                  2. re: Scott_R

                    I haven't had the Bosnian special so I can't say. I will say that I have preferred the bureks over the other stuff -- not sure if it's because it's because I'm just not as crazy about the cuisine in general or if it's because it's not prepared well.

                    And just to warn you, Go Go Curry is not very spicy. Japanese curries tend to be mild.

                    -----
                    Go Go Curry
                    273 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I don't know much about balkan cuisine but i find the bureks there to be overly greasy (and i love greasy fried foods) and the beef in the filling unappetizing.It's dry, crumbly and of a poor quality and this was from slices that appeared to be freshly cut out of a new pie (im not sure what to call the entire uncut disk).

                      1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                        Ah, good catch. The idea that they'd be greasy put me off at first, but the video about how they were made didn't show much oil use and gave me second thoughts; good to know my first thought was correct. Are they fried or baked? The pan made me think they were baked. As mentioned in my OP, I don't like fried foods.

                        1. re: Scott_R

                          It's definitely not fried but I don't know how it's made.

            2. I definitely recommend Go Go Curry. Also, the Little Morroco street cart is pretty close on 39th and 7th.

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              Go Go Curry
              273 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

              1. I will throw in my my two cents on some of the carts in the area. Will require a little walk unfortunately:

                Little Morocco cart (It says something like this on the cart) on 39th and 7th - chicken and rice with the spicy red sauce. Really spicy sauce, I read somewhere they use harrissa.
                Ecuadoran cart on 37th and 6th - just discovered this myself and found it to be a nice change of pace. Not sure if they are there every day.
                Mexicue cart - this is brand new and is only in midtown on Tuesdays. They have been parking at 40th and 6th. Expect extremely long line so hit up before noon. find them on twitter for more info.

                Also, in k-town, check out mandoo bar for dumplings. They are relativey fast there.

                In general the area around Penn is a little short on interesting stuff so expect a bit of a walk.

                -----
                Mexicue
                , New York, NY 10001

                1. Pick-a-Pita - excellent shawarma on 39th & 8th Ave. Get the chicken shawarma either in a pita or the laffa bread. All the toppings are delicious... I like the eggplant (it's a little spicy) and the onions.