Lunch Break: Upper East Side Eats, New Jersey Food Court
Vietnamese and burgers on the Upper East Side, or a NJ food court that focuses on Japan: it’s all in today’s Lunch Break. By Yvo Sin.
1492 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10021
In the land of wine bars and just plain bars, Vermicelli stands out as a rare Vietnamese restaurant along this stretch of 2nd Avenue. Even more rare is a lunch menu like theirs: well under $10, and boasting such Vietnamese classics as a few types of pho (a rich, deeply flavored soup that is simmered for hours, served with rice noodles and various toppings), bun (vermicelli noodles mixed with salad to create a refreshing bowl of happiness), and even banh mi (a sandwich served on French baguette with distinct Vietnamese flavors). If you’re a bit hungrier than that, opt for the box lunch menu – $6.95 – $7.50 – and receive a vegetable Imperial Roll, soup, salad, steamed rice, and your choice of various curries, vegetable and meat dishes. Try the suon nuong, the grilled lemongrass pork chops.
1830 2nd ave
New York, NY 10128
A relative newcomer to the burger scene, Burger Zone occupies a space along a stretch of 2nd Avenue that’s currently masked by lots of construction for the 2nd Avenue subway line. Despite this seeming calculation error, Burger Zone brings to the table very flavorful burgers that anyone can enjoy – though do note that they have their Kashrut certification, so there will be no bacon or cheeseburgers – with your choice of turkey, lamb, chicken, mushroom, and of course beef. Rounding out the menu with sides, anyone would do well grabbing a bite here.
The Food Court At Mitsuwa
595 River Road
Edgewater, NJ 07020
If you work close enough to Mitsuwa to go for lunch, count yourself immensely blessed (aside from having to work in New Jersey; you get a pass for that one). Mitsuwa contains within it such a wide variety of Japanese food, the best suggestion would be to start at one end and eat there every day, making your way around the food court until you’ve hit every single stall… then go inside the supermarket itself and eat your way down the left-hand side, where stacks upon stacks of sushi, sashimi, and assorted prepared foods wait for you to purchase and consume them. Forced to narrow down the list, Santouka for excellent ramen and Katsuhama for katsu would be great bets; neither are very expensive as well. If you really needed to pick one, Katsuhama boasts great set lunches, including the Berkshire pork tenderloin katsu special set (pictured), for about $7. Crispy fried pork cutlet served with a huge mound of shredded cabbage (eating that is optional), plenty of rice, a little potato salad, a small block of tofu and some Mandarin orange segments for dessert really hits the spot, and if you’re lucky, you’ll score a table along the windows in the back of the food court where you can watch the water – or the people trying to park in the narrow lane behind Mitsuwa, mocking them in your head as they repeatedly fail to park properly. Ah… it’s the little things.
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Yvo Sin is the founder and head writer of Feisty Foodie.