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Aug 9, 2011 02:15 PM

Visiting from Baltimore for a couple days - Odd request

Hi Manhattan Board,

My boyfriend and I will be visiting on August 22, 23, 24 and leaving on the 25th. Neither of us has been to New York in over a decade. We'll be staying at the Riverside Tower Hotel (80 Riverside Drive & 80th Street).

I'm a foodie. He's not - but for good reason. He has cancer and had to have part of his tongue removed last year because of it. He's eating again but it's a slow process and the food has to be moist. Things he usually eats are: pasta, cassaroles, breakfast foods, shakes and basically anything that doesn't have hard or dry components to it. Sandwiches are out.

So here's what I'm asking: Can anyone recommend some nice (but not fancy) places to eat? We'd like some places around the hotel but are not limited to the area as we will be sight seeing too.

I'd really appreciate your help. I just don't want him to starve and lose more weight!

Thank you in advance.

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  1. Hi there bebop102007! Welcome to the Manhattan board.

    In terms of nice (but not fancy) places to eat, what were you thinking of spending? Manhattan restaurants can be much more expensive than other parts of the country. It's easiest if you can give a rough dollar figure NOT including tax (almost 9% here), tip (20%), and drinks/wine/etc.

    In addition to the area around your hotel, where will you be sightseeing? If you can list the specific areas where you'll be, that'll be more useful, as you can then keep a list of appropriate restaurants with you as you move around the city.

    Any specific cuisines that you and he both enjoy? Would he like, say, Indian food? Japanese ramen? Maybe some good old fashioned chicken soup at 2nd Avenue Deli? Pancakes for dinner at Clinton St Baking Company? Luckily there are a ton of excellent Italian/Italian-influenced restaurants around that aren't super-pricey, like dell'anima and Hearth (love their gnocchi), but it's hard to make a recommendation without a price range. Also note that some of the upscale restaurants do not heavily sauce their pasta.

    I'm also trying to think of items that might be interesting to you both & be moist enough for him. Are strong flavors or spicy food out? What about rice that's been covered in sauce--like rice and mapo tofu at a Szechuan restaurant?

    12 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Hi Kathryn,

      Thanks for responding and being so thorough!

      We are on a bit of a budget - I guess we're looking to spend $50 - $75 (maybe more depending on what we've already spent) a day between the two of us for food. We don't have to have 3 square meals and we'll be packing some bottles of Ensure to tide him over for breakfast/snacks.

      As far as sight seeing, I'm thinking: All of Central Park, MoMa, Guggenheim, Museum of Nat History, the Met, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn Bridge, site of the Twin Towers... I'm not sure what else. But I think we're scratching the Statue of Liberty. Any suggestions? We'll be doing a LOT of walking so we're up for anything. We'll be doing the Comedy Cellar on the 23rd.

      He's basically a mac n' cheese/meat and potatoes kinda guy. Sadly, he's not much for ethnic foods even though I'm Thai, so no Indian or Thai - BUT he does love ramen. Soups work. Pancakes are great. Pastas are a must - the more sauce the better (he could probably eat it everyday). Strong foods are okay but spicy food is out. He'll eat Chinese (because I LOVE IT) but his idea of Chinese is lo mein.

      1. re: bebop102007

        $75 for two people isn't very much if you plan to have sit-down lunches & dinners.

        The math comes out to $14.55 per person, before tax and tip, for lunch and dinner. That's strictly "cheap eats" territory in Manhattan.

        Central Park is huge, so you should have a plan of attack as to whether you'll be entering/exiting towards a specific side around meal time.

        Natural Museum of Art? I think you mean the American Museum of Natural History?

        Eating near MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim may blow your budget, so you'll need to be very careful when planning. These are pretty expensive neighborhoods. However, the MoMA is in Midtown along side Rockefeller Plaza and Times Square, so if you look carefully, you might be able to find options in your budget.

        DEFINITELY check out this great site, where they always keep it under $10 for a meal:

        In Chinatown, you may want to check out Noodle Village for their claypot rice and wonton noodle soup. And they have Lo Mein on the menu, though I've never had it.

        Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Brooklyn Bridge are all pretty close together, so if you're near there, definitely go eat in Chinatown, as Little Italy is a bit of a tourist trap these days.

        As for ramen, a lot of the famous ramen in town is going to be above your budget ($15+).

        Noodle Village
        13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: kathryn

          To be completely honest we haven't sat down and discussed what we're going to spend on food. The numbers I gave you were off the top of my head, so you can just throw them out the window. We were just going to wing it. I guess I didn't realize how expensive eating out everyday would be. And it only crossed my mind to ask you folks today. That being said (budget out the window), I guess we'd be looking to eat a cheap lunch and have a sit down dinner 2 out of the 3 days. We are arriving late on the 22nd, so that would just be dinner. Please list the other ramen places, if you would.

          Yeah, I meant American Museum of Natural History. My brain is fried. I just got off of work. Haha ;)

          1. re: bebop102007

            A short walk from Comedy Cellar and a West Village gem is Rockmeisha, which is an izakaya that offers only one kind of ramen, but it's really good ramen. I think it's something like $14. It's tonkotsu style (milky pork bone broth) with thin silky noodles imported from Japan. You'll probably have to order more dishes than just ramen, though, as the portion's not huge.

            The super-famous and very popular ramen place in Manhattan is Ippudo. Waits can be very long on the weekends and for dinner, though. Since you're here mostly during the week, I'd recommend doing it for lunch one day. Much less crowded during the week.

            Here's a good roundup of ramen places:

            You'll probably want to note the ones near your tourist destinations, with the caveat that Hide-Chan has since changed their menu.

            11 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

            65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

            248 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022

            1. re: kathryn

              Great! I'll definitely look into these ramen joints. Thank you :)

            2. re: bebop102007

              Near the Museum of Natural History there is a Shake Shack at Columbus and 77th. The burgers are very soft but if they don't work the shakes there are very good. Other Upper West Side recs (near the hotel) that may work are a breakfast at Good Enough to Eat for massive Pancakes that will carry you to dinner and frankly dinner there is good comfort food. Have a glance at menupages to see if it would suit your BF.

              Good Enough to Eat
              483 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

              Shake Shack
              366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

              1. re: msny98

                Shakes have been one of the greater sources of calories for BF. This will work nicely as an "in between" meal. And Good Enough to Eat sounds ideal - stuff for me and him. Thanks so much :)

                Good Enough to Eat
                483 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

          2. re: bebop102007

            This may not be the sort of thing the normal chowhounder would recommend, and I certainly haven't tried either to confirm quality, but given the nature of your request, it might be worth checking out S'mac or Macbar. Both focus on Mac n' cheese, so it'd be like having a lunch or dinner made specifically for him. On the plus side for you, both are more experimental in their mac offerings, so while he might be fine with a basic bowl, you could go for something a bit out of the ordinary.

            Again, I can't review (anyone out there who can?) but both seem to be mostly well reviewed, and they certainly seem to fit your needs.

            345 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            54 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

            1. re: VictoryEatsAgain

              As much as it pains me to admit it, this is right up his alley. We may have to swing by this place just for him and go elsewhere to grab me something more... palatable. Thank you!

              1. re: bebop102007

                S'mac is just down the street from Motorino, one of the best pizza places in the city. They have a great and cheap weekday lunch prix fix and also do takeout. If the weather is nice, maybe you can get a pizza and he can get mac 'n' cheese, and you could walk to a nearby park to enjoy it. (Bringing outside food into a food establishment is against DOH regulations here). There's a park on 2nd Ave and 9th St.

                349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

          3. re: kathryn

            Hi Bebop,
            For lunch, you might try Hale and Hearty, a soup chain that has a branch on Broadway around 82nd st., right near your hotel. Zero atmosphere but delicious soup. Don't know if they're open for dinner.
            For dinner, try Gennaro, 93rd and Amsterdam, about a 15 minute walk from your hotel--delicious Mediterranean food, great homemade pasta, moderate prices for NYC but still might use up your food budget for the day. Tasty veg. restaurant on Amsterdam around 82 St. called Peacefood Cafe.
            Tasty takeout (all kinds) from Zabar's, 80th and Broadway.
            Good luck!

            2245 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

            665 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

            Peacefood Cafe
            460 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

            1. re: morningsidelisa

              Thanks for the suggestions, especially the soup place. I already planned on stopping by Zabar's - a friend of mine wants me to bring home some bagels. Just checked out Gennaro on the web and as far as price goes, that's totally doable.

          4. In the line of noodles and soups...

            Near Rockefeller Center there's Men Kui Tai ( 56th St btw 5-6th Ave) where you can get pretty good Ramens for about $8. Their fried rice and kyoza are also pretty decent, and gets better if you have it with one of their inexpensive sake.

            Near Macy's, there are two Korean options: one is Gam Mee Ok (32nd St btw B'way and 5th Ave) who specialize in Oxtail/bone soup called Sulnong Tang which is a traditional dish. The other is a Korean-Chinese place called Hyo Dong Gak ( 35th St btw 5-6th Ave) whose Jajangmeun (Noodle with black bean sauce) and Champong (spicy mixed seafood noodle soup) is the best in the city. I think their price is around $10-12.

            Near Columbus Circle/Central Park, see if Lobby Lounge of Mandarin Oriental Hotel would work. Though food may not necessarily be great, I think it can be just about at your budget and the rendering view of the park is outstanding at any time of the day. Their current menu includes wonton noodle soup.

            Best of wishes!

            Gahm Mi Oak
            43 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

            Lobby Lounge
            80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

            Hyo Dong Gak
            51 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

            Men Kui Tei
            60 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kurtis

              Would you happen to know if either of the Korean places you listed do tabletop BBQ? It would be awesome for him to enjoy some noodle soup while I devoured some Korean BBQ. He'd be able to eat some too - so long as it's tender enough.

              1. re: bebop102007

                Neither of them do BBQs.

                Noodle soups that typical Korean restaurants serve are bit different; either they are the cold types called Naengmyun, or Kalgooksoo which has thicker cuts of flour-based noodles in various temperature-hot broths. Most BBQ places do Naengmyun but generally not Kalgooksoo.

                Unfortunately, we don't go out for Korean food much, so my knowledge is skim here, but there are many that does tabletop BBQs and here's a good thread that talks about them in Korean Town which is near Macy's.

                Most of these places also have several different types of soup-based entrees that highlight various ingredients such as tofu, soy paste, kimchee, beef, oxtail, fish, , etc., and have translated menus with pictures. Generally the price for one portions of BBQ is in the range of $20 these days, and one usually has to order at least 2 portions for the tabletop grilling; single order is usually grilled in the kitchen then served.

                1. re: Kurtis

                  Yes -- many Korean BBQ places have a 2 person minimum so they might force you to order much more meat than you're comfortable eating solo, under the assumption he'll be eating a full portion too.

                  My favorite in Koreatown is Madangsui. It's been discussed a lot here (see the thread at Kurtis linked to).

                  35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Ah, figures. Thanks for the tip, Kurtis & Kathryn. We'll have to save the BBQ venture for closer to home when we have a few more people.

            2. I wonder if the Momofuko pork buns would work? It's sandwich like, but very soft. The pork belly has some crunch, and it's a little sticky. I'd suggest the Momofuko Saam Bar at lunch. They also have a duck, over rice lunch combo right next door.

              In a pinch, there are a lot of Jamba Juice chains around the city.

              NY has great lo-mein by the way.

              Borscht at Ukranian National Home is a good meat and potatoes option for soup. There's Blintzes and other soft items.

              Momofuku Ssam Bar
              207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Ukrainian East Village Restaurant
              140 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1 Reply
              1. re: sugartoof

                I love pork buns, but unfortunately the dough complicates things for BF. When they removed the left half of his tongue, the reconstructed it using tissue from his thigh and tethered that portion to the base of his mouth (sorry if that was too much info), so there's limited range of movement - to the strictest sense. All that dough would make chewing more of a chore.

                Jamba Juice may do him some good. We have Smoothie Kings here in MD. They have one shake that was made specifically for cancer patients - basically a meal replacement with 2070 calories total.

                Thanks for the suggestions!

              2. Since you make specific mention of mac 'n' cheese for the BF, I recommend The Eatery NYC at 798 9th Avenue. Best I've ever had (and I've had LOTS ...), and an 'American bistro' menu that could offer some other promising choices. Not too pricey, and we've always enjoyed pleasant service.

                798 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                1 Reply