Friday, February 27, 2009

Daifuku heaven! And other glorious discoveries.

So, as you may know, I work in midtown. And while NYC in general is extremely vegan friendly, midtown is NOT.

I have spoken of this problem before.

Let me put it this way. Pretty much across the street from my office is Smith and Wollensky, one of the most famous steak houses, like, ever. (It's a green and white building; during Christmas season they put a huge red ribbon on it so it looks like an enormous present. It's just charming.) I've often said that "the v word" in midtown means "veal" - *shudder*.

What we do have, though, is a healthy portion of "ethnic" restaurants. As in, restaurants of particular ethnicities or regions: Indian, middle-eastern, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, et cetera. And as we all know, these places can be a haven for vegans in unfriendly territory. Indian? Just make sure there's no ghee. Thai? Watch for fish sauce. With middle-eastern you're pretty much set - it's almost all either vegan or meat; not a whole lot of dairy or egg going on there, with the exception of a few weirdos who will slip mayonnaise into the babaganouj. Fortunately they're rare.

After staring work on 3rd ave, it quickly became apparent to me that in my particular few blocks of midtown (high 40's, low 50's) there is a particularly high density of Japanese and straight up sushi restaurants. My favorite is Tanaka on 50th (between 2nd and 3rd aves). This is partly because they have a four foot high Japanimation character on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant flipping passersby a peace sign, and partly because they offer mango rolls and peanut rolls. Yeah. There's also the rice ball place, Oms/b down on 45th street. It's fairly seafood heavy, but there are several awesome options for me (pickled plum!!) that can't be found anywhere else.

What I didn't know for a long time, though, is that 47th street between 3rd avenue and Lex is the real epicenter of the midtown Japanese scene. And what changed my life (or at least my lunch experience) this week is that a new Japanese market has opened up there.

They seriously have more kinds of daifuku and mochi type things than I've ever seen assembled in one place before. (I'm still on a mission for vegan ice cream mochi - they've got the regular stuff, but still no dice on vegan. Come on world. Rice dough! Rice milk ice cream! Make it happen!) They have real food too though - easy picks in the fridge like seaweed salad, and a set of three maki that was called "squash/pickled". Make no mistake, I'm still bringing lunch to work about 90% of the time. But in the event that I forget, now I have a whole new option.

And we like options.

(Oh, and that awesome photo of the black sesame covered daifuku? I so totally did not take that. I so totally did steal it from the internets. Thank you internets. And thank you daifuku.)


Fabiola said...

Can you tell me the name of this daifuku place and the address where all this Japanese places are? Thanks!

melissa bastian. said...

Hi Fabiola! I honestly have no idea what the name of that particular market is. As I mentioned in the blog post though, 47th Street between 3rd Avenue and Lexington in Midtown is a nice epicenter of all things Japanese. A few blocks further south (45th between 3rd Ave and Lex) there is now a rice ball place called Oms/b - And in Midtown East, you can really barely walk a block without hitting a sushi restaurant. We're talking serious saturation.

There is a great little Japanese market much further downtown, not far from Astor Place, called Sunrise Mart - though it's a little tricky to find. It's upstairs, so you have to take an elevator! It's above St. Mark's Bookstore. Not far from that up by 10th Street there's a much bigger place called M2M (Morning 2 Midnight). But in Manhattan, Japanese markets really aren't too hard to find. So, I hope that helps. Have fun, and good luck!