There are a thousand places in New York that are lunch delis, food stores, buffets, etc. And I like one of them, Cafe Duke. I am skeptical about all of these places, figuring it is low quality food kept in unsanitary conditions. (A side note. In a building I was once lived in, there was an inexpensive and popular Chinese restaurant on the ground floor. They kept their food in the basement of our building, where our laundry was. It was disgusting. Bins of raw chicken and fish just laying out.) If you visit New York, do not think I am urging a visit or that you eat at Cafe Duke. If you live in New York, make no effort to find this place or eat here.
They have everything to eat here. EVERYTHING. A grill, sandwiches, salad, pizza, pasta, sushi, a buffet (which I have not sampled), noodles galore cooked to order (ramen, udon, soba, rice, etc.). Every kind of energy bar imaginable, including every Cliff Bar flavor known to man. British candy bars, which even the NY Times agrees are much better than American ones. Japanese Hy-Chews.
My dish of choice here is the deceptively simple sounding Korean "Spicy Chicken Bowl." One day I was a little under the weather and wandered in here and thought, what the hell. It is mushrooms, onions and scallions tossed in a stir fry pan. Some precooked chicken bits. And then some magic red sauce and one minute later, spicy chicken, served with rice, pickled daikon radish, ginger and sesame seeds. A picture:
I was blown away. It is wonderful, really. The secret is the sauce, spicy, flavorful, and I don't even know what. I asked the guys what was in it and they said: Korean pepper paste, chili oil and garlic. It is spicy in a way that is different than Chinese or Mexican spicy. I can't describe it really. I have tried to duplicate it at home by hunting down Korean pepper paste and experimenting. I have not even come close.
And this place is efficient. The service is not polite or friendly; just brutally efficient. They serve hundreds of people at lunch, and they have people ready at the food stations and at the cash registers. I think they should be put in charge of the US health care system.
So, a shout out to one place that does something deceptively simple incredibly well.
And no, I haven't been to the doctor yet. What is he going to tell me? Stop running, ice and rest. As the Paper of record said today, tough it out.