Think outside the salad bar: Exotic grub for lunch
When it comes to lunchtime ruts, New Yorkers have no excuses.
“You don’t have to go to Thailand or Vietnam — you can have the same food here,” says Danyelle Freeman (inset), author of “Try This: Traveling the Globe Without Leaving the Table,” a guide to 14 different cuisines.
In her book, Freeman — the founder of RestaurantGirl.com and a former Daily News critic — aims to demystify ethnic cuisine and prompt people to take culinary risks.
Freeman gave us her picks for lunch spots that’ll rouse you out of your sandwich-and-salad slump.
“If you’ve never had Indian food and you’re a little wary, Tamarind (41-43 E. 22nd St., 212-674-7400; 99 Hudson St., 212-775-9000) is a little more toned-down,” Freeman says. She recommends the “magnificent” chutneys and naan. “I grew up being scared of Indian food — I didn’t think I liked curry. But in Indian cooking, curry just means cooked in liquid,” she says.
Entree price range: $24 prix-fixe or $12.50-$33 a la carte
Freeman picks Tia Pol (205 10th Ave., 212-675-8805), a Basque eatery in Chelsea, for “really authentic tapas,” such as patatas bravas (rough-cut potatoes with spicy aioli) and croquetas de jamón (warm ham croquettes).
Entree price range: $9-$9.50; tapas also available
Freeman recommends tracking down both pho (rice noodles) and banh mi (Vietnamese-style subs), which she described as “one of the greatest sandwiches of all time.” For Banh mi, she suggests Baougette (multiple locations), where the sandwiches are served on a French baguette, filled with pate, vegetables and roast pork, and topped with Vietnamese slaws and herbs.
Entree price range: $6.25-$9
Another tasty option — this time for noodles — is Bun SoHo (143 Grand St., 212-431-7999), which “covers the map of Vietnamese food,” she says. The signature bun — a dish of vermicelli rice noodles layered with crunchy vegetables, meats and seasonings — is a good place to start. Pick your protein (shrimp, steak, lamb, chicken or fish) and make “delicious discoveries” as you get to the bottom of the dish. It’s a great summer alternative to pho, which also features rice noodles, but is served in a hot broth.
Entree price range: $9-$12
For tasty Thai food, check out one of the four locations of Wondee Siam. Freeman suggests the duck spring rolls, barbecue chicken satay with peanut and cucumber sauces, and “drunken noodles” (pad kee mao).
Entree price range: $9.50-$19.95
Freeman describes the soup dumplings at Joe Shanghai (multiple locations) as “an amazing discovery” — they’re “pudgy dumplings [filled] with broth, crabmeat, pork and [other] fillings.”
Entree price range: $4.95-$19.95