Archive of ‘Restaurants in NYC’ category

What’s For Lunch, Thursday Edition

Eggplant, Peppers, Bamboo, Onions and Stringbeans

When I was pregnant, I craved curry. Well really, I craved a lot of things, but curry was high on the list. For me, the spicier, the better. I could always tell that waiters were hesitant when they saw this pregnant woman asking for extra, extra spicy, because there’s an old wive’s tale that spicy food brings on labor. I can tell you from experience, it does not.

By the time I was ten days overdue, I had been to every Mexican, Indian, Thai, and Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. When I ordered the spaghetti Fra Diavlo at our favorite Italian cafe, and told the waiter, “Please tell the chef extra, extra spicy and knock this baby out of me!” I sent him running off so quickly, John thought he had gone to seek therapy.

“They thought that joke was funny at the Mexican place,” I tried to explain.

My prenatal yoga teacher told our class about a certain spot on the foot that induces labor, which was of no help to me at that point, because I couldn’t reach my feet. I asked a massage therapist at my gym, a Chinese acupuncturist my friend swears by, and even my yoga teacher who also does massage, to rub the labor-inducing spot on my foot. No one would touch it. It was a liability issue, I was told.

Finally, desperate, I went to a Chinese health arts center in the East VIllage and plunked a large bill on the table. “I will pay you to rub that spot on my foot you’re not supposed to,” I panted, “and if I go into labor tonight, I’ll come back soon with another bill that looks just like this one.”

The man at the desk summoned an older woman from behind a curtain. They discussed something in Chinese. Then the woman gestured for me sit in a chair and she proceeded to rub my arches, close to the soles.

“This induces labor, right?” I must’ve asked about ten times. My Chinese is a little rusty, so I spoke in English. I was convinced she understood though. I mean, here I was almost ten months pregnant, looking like I was about to pop. What other question could I be asking?

Still, I was pretty sure my yoga teacher had said the spot was closer to the ankle, so when I got home, I looked up the Chinese reflexology foot chart. That’s when I confirmed the woman had not been rubbing the spot to induce labor. She hadn’t even come close to it. Nope, it turns out she had been working on the spot to diminish anxiety. I really can’t say it did much good either.

Discouraged that I had just wasted my money, I called Laut, a cute little Thai and Malaysian restaurant, and ordered this green curry, which I also had for lunch today. It’s eggplant, bamboo, and peppers. “But I see string beans too,” you’re probably thinking. It’s true the traditional green curry does not include string beans. That was another pregnancy craving which turned out to be so good, it’s how I always order my curry now. It’s also extra, extra spicy.

What’s For Lunch, Thursday Edition


The next few posts won’t be long ones. I’m deep into revisions, and I don’t want to interrupt my mojo, or as I call it when the words are flowing, my woflow. Meow!

Yes, I’m one of those weird people who punctuates sentences with meow! and who loves a good salad as much as a good chocolate dessert. To fuel myself, I went to Chop’t this afternoon. The line at lunch is long, but I was in the mood for greens so it wasn’t a deterrent. Plus it moves quickly.

I tried something new: the Kebab Cobb with spa red wine vinaigrette. I did not choose this salad because it rhymes*, but it was an excellent decision. So much flavor, and such a nice mix of textures between the grilled chicken, the crisp purple onions, and the soft peppers. The dressing blurs the feta perfectly, tempering it and adding just the right amount of punch to every bite.

The people who make the salads are very nice too. They’re endlessly patient as I decide if I want extra onion, or if I really need the bread they put on top. (In case you’re wondering, today I did.)

*Okay, maybe that influenced my decision a little.



Procrastination for Lunch

Spicy Meatballs at Digg Inn Seasonal Market

Some days I’m starving way before lunchtime. I don’t know if it’s because I recently started going to the gym again, or if it’s because my active, getting into everything  nineteen-month-old really keeps me on my toes.

Either way, on days I’m this hungry, I become completely overwhelmed by the choices nearby. There are salad places, a falafel place, a Malaysian restaurant that has great specials (even if the chicken is a little rubbery), a health food spot, and a sandwich shop that claims to be all natural (but when I brought my mother in one day she swore she could smell the preservatives, and she truly has the nose for that sort of thing, so I don’t go there much).

My inability to decide what to eat is compounded by my hunger, which makes it even harder to decide what to eat, and the whole thing becomes this vicious cycle. By then I am past the point of needing a sandwich and ready to skip right to the chocolate.

That’s when I go downstairs, look in each restaurant to determine which line is shortest, and my decision is made.

Today I went to Digg Inn Seasonal Market. It’s one of my favorite neighborhood places. It used to be The Pump, and it’s still run by the same company, but they took the concept of healthy food a step further by making it healthy fast food.

Everything is already prepared when you walk in. The magic of Digg Inn is that the food never looks like it’s been sitting there all afternoon. You choose a starch, an entree and three sides. The line moves quickly, and the staff is very pleasant.

For lunch I usually get the braised beef on top of vegetable brown rice. The rice has big chunks of carrot in it, which add a nice flavor. Growing up, the brisket from my grandfather’s deli was famous in our town. He cooked it with big chunks of carrots. When I get the braised beef at Digg Inn I ask for extra gravy, and I have a dish that’s somewhat reminiscent of my childhood.

Today I felt adventurous, and got the spicy meatballs. When I order something spicy, I like it to be spicy. I’m happy to say these meatballs don’t disappoint.

For the sides, there are a ton of choices, and this indecisive girl tries to pick before going in so I don’t hold up the line. Today I had roasted winter vegetables, sweet potatoes, and cabbage slaw with coconut milk (and yes, you can really taste the coconut).

I wish they had better desserts, but let’s face it, it’s probably better they don’t.

Which brings me to my next point. I think snacking is a bigger problem for me than what to have for lunch. Even after a good meal, there are still some afternoons when three hours later I’m famished again. It’s the snacking that kills me. It’s always the snacking.

So once again I go downstairs and try to find something that’s not the equivalent of a second lunch. I also don’t want to undo all my good work by getting a brownie from Pret or Chop’t, so I usually grab an apple and some almonds. It seems to do the trick. But I often wonder, does writing about food make me hungrier? Or is snacking just another word for procrastination?