lunch spots « blogging for burgers

Tag Archive for 'lunch spots'

OBAO. I can't think of a clever phrase to match the acronym.

Last week, I wandered out of my new office space with a solid 8.6 out of 10 on the hunger scale.  Onya seemed like a viable option, but 47th Street was a bit far from the new spot on 54th.  However, noodles sounded like a good option that would be decently filling without being too unhealthy or pricey.

I then remembered back to OBAO, which opened late last year.  I hadn’t read too much about it except for ML’s early look of it, and I was definitely down for some pho.  That said, I walked in with only limited knowledge of what I was going to be eating, except for Michael Huynh’s break-neck speed of expansion and his strong reputation from Baogette and Barbao (both of which are on the BG duo’s list, and the latter of which will be a part of the eUWS project).

So, I walked down to the former bunchberries space on 53rd street.  Since it was a relatively slow day at the office, I decided to eat in.  The place was not too crowded, although people were still around.  Hopefully it will become more crowded as it stays open longer.  I sat down in a bright table at the front of the place so that I had something to look at, since I hadn’t planned on eating at a table alone.

The menu is pretty extensive, with a collection of Vietnamese and Thai inspired dishes, including noodle and rice dishes, and of course, some soups.  Since I only had pho on my mind, I went straight for the Pho Bo, which has thinly sliced beef and a beef ginger sauce, and of course the noodles.

A few minutes after ordering, I was presented with the main event.

The pho came with a side bowl with bean sprouts, thai basil, and some sliced jalepenos.  The pho itself was chock full of meat that was still cooking in the hot broth, which was laden with thinly sliced red onions and scallions.  I took a quick taste and found the broth to be a bit too delicate for my palate, although I was definitely catching the beef and ginger flavor.  I added a splash of sriracha and the whole lot of basil and jalepenos, and a tiny dash of soy, to try to increase the richness of the broth.  You can even see in the picture that the broth is not super rich in color, even after I had doctored it up a little bit.

The beef and noodles themselves were good, but after having been to Onya so many times now, I was left wanting more richness and depth of flavor.  Even with the addition of the salty umami-bombs, I wasn’t quite getting the pho to its full potential.  Even so, at $9, I wasn’t complaining.  All in all, it’s a great addition to the neighborhood when I’m looking for a quick Asian fix and am too lazy to walk seven blocks.  I might branch out within the menu though, based on some of the pics from ML.

53rd St. off Third Ave.

Two new obsessions: One Seasonal, One Not

Three things today for all of you guys:

1) First of all, I have only recently discovered the joy of the sunchoke, or jerusalem artichoke.  These little tubers are delightful.  Roasted plain, they are delicious.  They are like an artichoke heart, but better.  I cannot believe that it’s taken me this long to discover these little guys at the farmer’s market.

Get yourself some and try them for yourself.  They are delicious.  Just cut them in half and roast them up with some oil, salt, and pepper.

2) Num Pang.  12th St. and University.  Get there.

The place opened up last year in March, but somehow escaped my realm of cognizance.  But not any more.  They have a few sandwiches, but I can only speak to the pork and skirt steak sandwiches.  They arrive with some cucumber, carrots, and cilantro, on a toasted piece of bread with a spicy mayo.  A few squirts of sriracha, and we were good to go.  The pork is fatty and smoky, and as the picture above illustrates, it’s as tender as can be.  The softness of the meat is offset by the toasty crunch of the bun.  Just load up on napkins, it’s juicy.

There’s another shot.  Just because.

On another occasion, I had the skirt steak.  It’s more or less the same, but features some freshly griddled skirt steak.  It takes a little longer than the pork, which is already prepared, so be ready for a little bit of a wait.  The steak showed up with a lovely crust on the outside, but was just a little too medium for my taste.  I actually prefer my skirt steak cooked all the way through, especially when it’s been marinated, but this was still pretty good.  I still prefer the pork, but the steak was pretty good, too.  They have some other stuff, too, and I think they will soon be tried.

3) Monsanto gets named Forbes company of the year.  Quite a recovery from all of the negative press and the slamming in Food, Inc.  I haven’t read the article yet, but it definitely piqued BB’s interest.

I'm feeling pink inside.

It’s Wednesday today, and that means one thing– farmer’s market day!

Today I decided to go for anything at the market that provides an illusion of some sort.  I was feeling mischievous, what can I say?

First, I stopped by Samascott Orchards to pick up some apples.  I got those scarlett rose apples that Uberchef got last week.  I have not tried one yet, but as I said, I’m all about the trickery today.

I’m going to be doing some cooking this weekend at a family event, so I picked up some bok choi at Lani’s Farm, which was formerly Yuno’s Farm.  They have pretty good bok, although some of their items are a little overpriced.  I also got some romanesco cauliflower, which was just too trippy and weird-looking to pass up.


Not sure what I’m going to do with them, but it’ll be tasty.  I also picked up some watermelon radish, just because they look cool on the inside.  Check it out.  These things are absolutely radiant inside.

Then I stopped at Maxwell’s farm to pick up those sun-gold’s I’ve been raving about.  They have been getting a bit iffy, so I bought a mix of baby tomatoes.  I think it might be some of the season’s last.  I also got some chives, because I plan on making some pork dumplings this weekend (and you know this will be documented).

Ronnybrook, where were you?? You weren’t at the party today.  Come back.  I love you.

After the market, UC and I walked back to Onya for a little udon action.  Right at the front the udon dude was pulling the noodles out of the machine and dusting them with flour.

IMG00017-20091014-1259 Went with the sanuki again, which looks the best of everything I’ve seen there.  I got some chicken and mixed vegetable tempura, both of which we pretty solid.

IMG00018-20091014-1304Perfect lunch.

I'll have the chilean sea bass, or maybe just a sandwich.

Uberchef and I hit up the farmer’s market, and fall is in full swing over there!  More to come on that later.

After filling up on some Ronnybrook Lowfat Yogurt drink (which I had never had before, got the honey vanilla flavor, and it was awesome.  And the price was right– free), we were starving.  We were going to hit up a ME standby, lenny’s, but uberchef remembered that a buddy of his had told him about Barros Luco, a new Chilean spot on 52nd street named after the famous south american sandwich and Chilean president.

I had a few doubts before walking in.  First of all, the space is one of those cursed restauarant locations that needs to just become a double-decker McDonald’s if it wants to become something that will last for more than a year.  Let’s remember back to Zip Burger and 99 miles to philly for a moment…

Now that that nightmare is over, let’s live in the now, and take a trip down to South America.  The menu is simple enough– for the sandwiches, which come on freshly baked chilean bread, you can get a traditional barros luco with either steak or chicken, with melted cheese.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can go for something a bit more difficult to pronounce, and get other accoutrements.  Or, you can get vienesas, which are basically chillean hot dogs.  They also have some other sides, including empanadas and string beans, and sweet potato fries.

Uber-c and I decided to split a couple of sandwiches, and nothing else, since we were both coming down from a milkfat high.  We went with a steak chacarero, which has some pounded steak, string beans, pickled peppers, and tomato, and a chicken italiano.  We started out with the steak, taking our first bite in synch so as to avoid any judgment tampering.  We both agreed that the string beans were flavorful, and I thought it was pretty good steak for something that is basically fast food.  I had picked up some fresh basil at the market, and I think that it added a nice herbal touch that was otherwise missing.  Uberchef was missing peppers, so I think that there were some consistency issues across our two halves.  Overall, it was satisfying, but a larger portion would have been appreciated.


We then moved on to the chicken italiano.  At first glance, I didn’t have high hopes for it, and the flavor, or lack thereof, was pretty consistent with my expecations.  The color was kinda blah, the avocado was blah, the tomato was blah.  It didn’t have any kick or anything.  It just tasted like a grilled chicken sandwich from a deli.  In the words of Uberchef, “this tastes like a diet.”

Anyway, check out Barros Luco if you are in the mood for something different.  Just do yourself a favor and stick with the steak.

Barros Luco
52nd st at 2nd ave
3.5 out of 7 cows (isteak alone would have been 4.5)

It's beautiful.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Schnitzel Truck Burger.

You’re welcome.

It just makes cense. Or does it?

Saw on the twitterline that La Cense Burger truck was midtown east today, so after hitting up the vietnamese fruit smoothie cart on 47th and park, I took a little stroll down to the LCB truck.  I was shocked that there was not a line, since usually when I walk by it’s like a financial geek haven.

I ordered up a steakburger with cheese, and chatted with the guys.  Apparently it was a busy day earlier on, so I had just missed the rush.  Whew.

After chatting with the guys for a little bit, I got the burger.  The patty is pretty hefty for a burger truck patty, I was surprised.  I wish I had had my cellphone, but I had left it at the office, so unfortunately no pics today 🙁   It looked a little dense, but I was hoping the flavor would make up for the texture.

Now, the La Cense cattle are grass-fed, so the texture and leanness of the burger patty might not be for everybody.  The caramelized onions help a little, but the burger is in no way the grass fed beauty of the Minetta burger.  The taste was decent but not great– you can tell it probably was quality meat at some point, but I’m not sure that the truck is the place to experience it.  The griddle top cooking didn’t really impart a crunchy char layer, but there was some decent coloring.  I would maybe get another one if I were walking by by chance, but I wouldn’t hike out of my way to get there.  But, you can rest assured that it’s all sustainable and good for the environment and all that, so that’s a plus.

3.5 out of 7 cows.

La Cense Burger Truck
Various Locations– follow them on twitter