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Mantao Chinese Sandwiches
With the Asian sandwich craze comes a new, filling and delicious option. Mantao refers to the fluffy, white, steamed bread that is usually used to make buns in Northern China. At Mantao Chinese Sandwich, flatter versions of the bun dough are topped with sesame and replace the usual sandwich bread. For the vegetarian varieties, the breads are filled with spicy tofu, fried egg, or shiitake and portobello mushrooms – all of them are tasty and worth a try. They also sell a variety of salads, cold sesame noodles and pretty good pan-fried vegetable dumplings.
235 E. 53rd Street between 2nd and 3rd
Though, in typical Midtown fashion, it’s fussier, less spicy and more than twice as expensive as its downtown cousins, the Boi báhn mì is a still satisfying and delicious sandwich. A large, fluffy hunk of white bread is filled with napa cabbage, avocado, peppers, fennel, basil, baby arugula and pickled daikon radish and carrots. While it may not win points for authenticity, it certainly wins for creativity – especially for a vegetarian sandwich. That said, it will rescue you from yet another trip to a deli.
708 Third Ave between 44th and 45th
I recommend this place to the adventurous eater who is truly looking for a new food experience. For me, the concept of rice balls is not totally unfamiliar – but the flavor combinations found at Oms/b are. Take for example sesame and seaweed, or gobo with sesame mayonnaise. There are also slightly more familiar assortments as well, such as variations of hijiki/edamame and shiso/plum. If you try them out and find that you prefer something more conventional, you can always get a side of spring rolls.
156 E. 45th St. between Lexington and 3rd
I don’t LOVE salads. I do enjoy a well-made salad but I guess the real issue is that so many of them are lacking in flavor and texture. Not at Chop’t. While I’m not going to pretend that it’s healthiest place to get your vegetables, they do offer tasty and satisfying options. I especially love their Santa Fe salad; it’s got avocado, tomato, corn, pepper jack cheese, fried onions and a base of romaine lettuce. Note: all of their low fat dressings have less than 45 calories and 3 grams of fat or fewer per serving. But at 35 grams of fat for the undressed salad, it’s not something I would indulge in everyday.
60 E. 56th St. between Madison and Park
165 E. 52nd St. between Lexington and 3rd
Generally I’m not the hugest fan of ‘wichcraft. My order somehow always takes ages, even though the cold stuff is pre-prepared. And on the whole, it is very overpriced. But there is one item on the menu that I will definitely go out of my way for: the marinated eggplant sandwich. It’s made up of spicy, marinated eggplant, chickpea puree, roasted peppers and watercress on ciabatta bread. It can be quite messy to eat, but boy is it packed with flavor! And at less than $8 (without tax), it might be one of the cheapest meals in midtown.
245 Park Ave. near 47th
555 Fifth Ave. between 45th and 46th
1 Park Ave. between 32nd and 33rd
Eclectic interpretations of the falafel are served in fresh-made pitas or as salads. While Crisp claims to be 100% vegetarian, I’d shy away from the items containing parmesan or feta if you want to be on the safe side. There are several enticingly unusual items on the menu, like the crisp africa which has north african peanut sauce, sweet potatoes, corn salad, cherry tomatoes and green onions. However, my favorite is the crisp parisian, made with sundried tomato spread, goat cheese (from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery), roasted peppers, red onions and garden greens. They also offer a selection of refreshingly fruity, house-blended ice teas. The lines can be a bit crazy and confusing during peak lunch times, so I recommend ordering online first and then picking up.
684 Third Ave. on the corner of 43rd
Click here for Part 1 of How to Deal in Midtown East.
Click here to see The Soho Sandwich Tour.