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One of the many unlisted benefits of having a job in New York City is getting to try out a different place for lunch everyday. Yet, the whole difference place for lunch everyday thing didn’t quite work out for me.
I got stuck into a lunch routine once I found some places I love. Out of all those lunch spots, I compiled my favorite Asian restaurants.
Here’s where to eat Asian food for lunch near Grand Central in no particular order:
- Sunrise Mart
- Num Pang
- Xi’an Famous Foods
- Everyday Gourmet Deli
- Food World
— the Spot for Quickies —
These places are great for quick lunches.
Sunrise Mart is a popular Japanese deli that serves bento boxes, sushi, and hot grill items such as noodles and rice bowls all under $10. It also has a small grocery store in the back where you can do your impromptu Japanese shopping for specialty items such as seaweed, sesame oil, ramen, and more.
There are a few of these scattered around the city, but the one I’m talking about is between Grand Central & Bryant Park.
This is a hot spot for lunch as you can get your food quickly and bring it to Bryant Park to eat, which is something I did regularly in the summer and fall. In the wintertime, seating is limited but people eat quickly so a seat will pop up in no time.
How to order at the hot grill: If it’s packed to the brim and it’s your first time at Sunrise Mart, it can be a little overwhelming to know what to do. Here’s how to order a hot meal:
- Push your way through (politely) to the hot food counter
- Stare at the menu above the grill and decide you want the Pork Katsu Don (grilled pork cutlet cooked in a teryaki-ish sauce and eggs served over rice)
- Find one of the cute Japanese girls in front of the counter taking orders on a notepad and tell her your order.
- Take your slip to the cashier and pay for it.
- If you’re eating in, go snag a seat. Otherwise, wait for your number on your slip to be called.
- Fist pump the air when your number is called, grab your food, and enjoy.
What to order: I like the Pork Katsu Don rice bowl at the hot food counter if I have awhile to enjoy my lunch, but note this will put you in a food coma. I also like the Korean bibimbap bowl in the refrigerated section in the front, which is perfect if you have a short lunch break and need to grab something on the run.
Num Pang is a Cambodian sandwich shop that totally one upped the Banh Mi game.
They serve tasty sandwiches with the ever so perfect crunch but soft bread and slow cooked, flavor packed meats. They also serve soups, salads, and rice bowls, but let’s get real, the main reason why people come here is for their sandwiches!
What to Order: Get the Pulled Pork or Skirt Steak sandwich, and if you’re vegetarian, the Cauliflower sandwich
Note: There is only a small counter to stand and eat at.
Noodles. Why do I love thee? Your noodles remind me of the greater good of gluten: chewiness, your sauce holds the mystery of so many flavors I can’t pronounce, and that spicy kick, you keep me on my toes.
I love everything about this place– the food, obviously, the music they play, the story of how this place came to be, and how they WARN me that it is very, very important to eat the noodles immediately instead of taking them out because they won’t taste as good.
As I’ve mentioned before, I like being told how to eat my food for the best flavor.
I put this under the ‘good for quickies’ section because the food is prepped quickly, but in reality, you might still need to allot an hour or so for lunch here because the lines during lunchtime can get long.
It’s worth it, but if you’re not a fan of lines, come at an off hour.
What to Order: Get any of the hand pulled noodles (not in soup), but especially the Pork ‘Zha-Jiang’ noodles, and the Tiger Vegetable Salad to add a cool, crunch contrast to the hot, chewy, spicy noodles.
One downside to their food is that it’s always served on styrofoam– boo for health & the environment. I’d like to think that the goodness of the noodles balances it out… #wishfulthinking
— Sit Down Places for Afternoons without Meetings —
These places will have you in between sleep & awake for a couple of hours with their large portions and is marked for high food coma alert.
Everybody loves fried food, and with Katsu-Hama, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for a classic Japanese comfort food dish, Pork Katsu. The restaurant is big enough to fit a party of 1-6 for lunch and has a simple and tasteful decor perfect for business environments.
What to order: the Pork Katsu lunch special with UNLIMITED rice, shredded cabbage salad, soup and pickles for only $12. You’re simply ordering the ‘Food Coma’.
Pro Tip: You’ll get a mortar and pestle with sesame seeds. Grind that sh*t up and then put some tonkatsu sauce in there from the container on your table. Tonkatsu sauce is like ketchup to fries (if you’re American) or peanut butter to jelly. Make sure to get that all over your pork. Your taste buds will thank you over and over again.
Admittedly, Menchanko-tei’s got nothing on my favorite ramen places in NYC, but it’s great to curb the ramen craving while you’re in Midtown and will definitely warm you up on a cold day. For $11-13, you can get a ramen that comes with a mini rice bowl, which will knock you out as soon as you take your last sip.
What to order: the Tonkatsu ramen
— Hidden Gems —
These places are unexpected and different.
Everyday Gourmet is one of the delis that serves everything under the sun such as burgers, sushi (but don’t get the sushi), fruit, Japanese food, Korean food, and burritos, but I go here for the Korean food. I’ve tried Bibimbap at several places in the area, mainly at delis, and this place wins for authenticity (well as authentic as you can get at a deli) and portions.
The upstair seating is a strange sight to see. It’s just so… Korean… There’s a bar, leather lounges that people literally take naps on during the day, booths to sit at, private party rooms, and giant Korean petrified wood decor. It’s always fun to go and hang out here during lunch because it’s a weird and unexpected setting.
What to order: The beef bibimbap, which comes with a side of soup, and make sure to grab a container of kimchi to eat your bibimbap with! The japchae and bulgogi is good too. And out of all the places to get ramen in the area, I like to get ramen here because they pack it with veggies.
Do not get: The sushi. If you want sushi that bad, go to a real sushi place, not a deli… unless it’s Sunrise Mart.
Tip: They have a water container upstairs that you can get free water from.
This is another one of those delis that has everything under the sun including a Mongolian grill, which is the only reason I’m recommending this place because I haven’t gone here for anything else.
How to order: It’s pretty fun. You go up to a raw food bar, grab a metal bowl, throw in all the ingredients and sauces you want, hand it to the guy at the grill, and watch him muscle your food around on the giant circular grill. If you want an egg added, they have that behind the counter so let them know because a stir fry is almost sacrilegious in my foodie book.
I wouldn’t suggest this place if you have allergies or food restrictions as everyone food gets mixed together, but if you’re game to try anything, this would be a fun place to go.
Keep in mind if you have a lot of veggies in your bowl and it seems like it’s a lot of food, it’s going to cook down a lot.
You will probably leave this place smelling like food because of the steam and smells coming off the Mongolian grill. As long as you don’t mind smelling like a barbecue, dive in face first to your freshly grilled food.
— Recap —
Again, here’s where to eat lunch near Grand Central:
- Sunrise Mart
- Num Pang
- Xi’an Famous Foods
- Everyday Gourmet Deli
- Food World
If you have any more places to eat Asian food for lunch by Grand Central, please share by commenting! Thanks for reading.