Healthy lunches in NYC
TONY checks out five health-conscious lunch joints to see which of them are worth their salt.
Tue Dec 28 2010
150 E 52nd St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-702-9555, sensebowl.com)
The shtick: "Chipotle meets Momofuku," founders Jonathan Krieger and John Woo told The Wall Street Journal upon opening the first of six planned locations. White or brown rice or white or buckwheat noodles forms the basis of most dishes, which champion healthy ingredients like skinless chicken, steamed tofu and toasted seaweed. Amicable staffers are happy to walk you through the build-your-own-bowl process, but there's little time for dawdling during the lunchtime crush. Takeout lids and prepackaged condiments make eating on the run a breeze; expect to bump elbows with blowout types should you decide to dine in.
What we ate: The boiled edamame appetizer ($3) was criminally oversalted, but the pillowy steamed buns were solid, with succulent slow-cooked beef and vinegary onions tucked inside ($3). Though the shiitake mushroom broth in the Tofu Bowl ($9.50) tasted bland, silky organic tofu, chewy buckwheat noodles and spicy Nanami Togarashi (available on every table) helped resuscitate it. The Shrimp Bowl (also $9.50) fared slightly better out of the gate, with its minty crustaceans, crumbly hard-boiled egg and honey-roasted peanuts. But even that demanded a generous squeeze of sriracha to keep things animated.
The verdict: The signature bowls need work—most are halfhearted combos that force diners to douse the food in hot sauce to tease out flavor. You're better off building your own bowl, and rounding out your meal with Pocky sticks and a groovy imported drink—the Lotte Milkis ($2), a Korean carbonated milk soda, is scary good.