Topaz Thai

127 W 56TH
New York, NY 10019
(212) 957-8020

Topaz Thai is located couple blocks from my office, which is how it was discovered as a lunch spot. Be warned Topaz is a small place, and get extremely crowded during lunch. Perhaps this is due to their excellent food at a very reasonable price. The service here can be a bit slow during lunch, but I felt it is worth the wait. When we went, we got really lucky we had a group of 5 and we were seated immediately. Their menu is like a typical Thai restaurant, except the difference, their food has a very authentic Thai taste. I felt this is the type of food you would get if you were to go eat at a Thai families house, it had a home cooked feel to it. It is a good thing it is around the corner, since I will be enjoying this place for lunch more often.

Tao

42 East 58th St
New York, NY 10022
http://www.taorestaurant.com/

Tao is a staple in NYC! It is one of those places everyone dines and just constantly talks about, to the point I feel like I have no choice but to give it 2 Thumbs Up regardless of what I think. I mean lets be realistic if everyone loves it and I say it is OK, either there is something wrong them or me. In any case, Tao came very close to my expectations. Be warned getting a table here can be troublesome. DO NOT: show up late, show up without your whole group, go and try to get a seat last minute. Make reservations it is worth it. For our meal with started off with Satay of Chilean Sea Bass, Jumbo Shrimp Tempura, a Crap cake and couple rolls of sushi. Everything lived up to the Tao hype especially the Satay, which was the best part of the meal as far as I am concerned. When it came to the main entree, I feel I made a mistake. I went for the Wasabi Crusted Filet Mignon, someone at the table recommended the Miso Glazed Sea Bass, and I should have listened to her others ordered it and loved it. The Filet was good, but nothing too special, I would probably not order it next time. Finally for dessert, everyone I was with decided to order the molten chocolate cake, I had to be different yet again and get the chocolate raspberry wontons. This is a decision I was very happy with. Tao was a great experience, and does certainly support the hype around it, I just say stay away from their Filet and go for their Seafood or even better Kobe!

Yips

1290 Avenue of the America,
New York, NY 10104

For you Midtown worker, Yips is a treat! Talking to my friends who work in corporate America, we all share to same one similar experience. During lunch we go out grab food (just so we can get out a little) only to return to our desk with our lunch. Well Yips is the perfect quick lunch spot. Yips is a small Chinese joint where you can be in and out in a New York minute. They have 3 areas to take your order each with their own register. They have pre-made dishes which are served with white or fried rice. I actually made 2 visits this week and had the Thai chicken and some other Saute chicken. The Thai chicken hit the spot, the 2nd one was OK, not to my taste but made well. The best part of it all it is affordable. A full meal will cost you less then $6! How can you go wrong here, good food, quick and affordable, this is the best lunch spot you can find in Midtown! One note, the entrance to Yips is actually on 52nd street between 5th and 6th Ave, do not let their address misguide you.

Chola

232 East 58th St.
New York, NY 10022
http://www.pappadums.com/cholany/

Buffets and Indian food seem to go hand in hand, so what does it take to stand out from the many Indian buffets available not only in NYC, but in the rest of the country? Chola seems to have found the trick. In addition to the traditional table of dishes, Chola serves various fresh dishes at your table. During my visit they started us off with Uttapam, followed by a Dosa and various chaats. After picking at these dishes it was time to hit the buffet itself. There was a great deal of selections Pani Puri, Chicken Mahkni, Lamb Curry, Mixed Chicken Grill, Pumpkin Masala, Palak Paneer, Iddly, Ucmah, Chicken Birayani, and couple other dishes. The downfall and the only reason I did not give this place 2 thumbs up is because I felt their non-veg dishes were not that special. The vegetarian plates were excellent, and I would definitely recommend this place to someone looking for a vegetarian place to dine. The Chicken Mahkni was hard, lamb was dry, and mixed grill cold. Yet this should not be a show stopper. When visiting Chola during the buffet my suggestion is go for the vegetarian food. I am not sure of their Ala Carte service, perhaps I will try to visit them for dinner one night.

Roy’s New York

130 Washington St.
New York, NY 10006
http://www.roysrestaurant.com/

Roy’s Restaurant might be a little difficult to find at first. The address is 130 Washington and there is a door on Washington St, but it is located inside the Marriott Financial Center. I found it easier just telling the cab to take me to the Marriott Financial Center and walking through the hotel to find Roy’s. Roy’s is an Hawaiian Fusion restaurant and has to be one of the best overall values in NYC. We had a pretty large group and were not sure of the exact size, regardless they were able to accommodate our reservations and have all seated. Now the stand out item of this place was their Prix Fixe Menu. In $30 you had a choice of 3 appetizers, 4 entrees and 3 desserts. A three course meal at this price is one the best deals I have ever seen. I can not remember the options for the appetizer, since everyone I went with, ordered the Dim Sum sampler without hesitation. The sampler had a tuna roll, ribs, crab cake and coconut crusted shrimp; after hearing this the other appetizer options just did not match up. For entree there was a Mahi Mahi, Grilled Chicken, Hibachi Salmon and Filet Mignon. Most of my friends choose the Mahi Mahi, meanwhile I went for the Filet Mignon, which was served over potatoes with a light blue cheese sauce. I did get to try a piece of the Mahi Mahi, and both meals the Mahi Mahi and Filet were simply amazing. The portions here are just the perfect size, nothing to large, but they fill the appetite, not leaving you hungry. With out meals we also decided to order a few bottles of wine, before you think I am some insane high roller, you must know that Roy’s has a $30 wine menu. That’s right a bottle of wine at a restaurant for $30. They were not high end wines, but were great wines to have with people who are not big wine drinkers. Finally dessert; I only remember 2 of the options for this, Chocolate Souffle and Creme Bule. As usual, I went for the creme bule, while most ordered the souffle. The creme bule was made to my liking, nice crust but not to hard. After doing some research it seems that the Prix Fixe menus changes, so now I have more reasons to visit Roy’s again. Finally a special two thumbs up to the staff, who were kinda, courteous and most importantly friendly.

Jiaya

46 W Old Country Rd
Hicksville, NY 11801
http://www.jaiyathai.com

I have been dining at Jaiya for many years. Originally Jaiya was located in Elmhurst, Queens, but recently they moved their Elmhurst location to Hicksville, Long Island. I also know there is one located on 3rd Ave between 28th and 29th Street in Manhattan, I have never personally dined there, but I have been told by many that they share the same quality. Thai has recently become a huge trend, but through time Jaiya has always stood out as a unique Thai restaurant. The first think you will notice you will not find the typical names on the menu, this might make it hard to order if you stick with the typical Thai dishes such as Pad Thai. Do not worry though, Pad Thai is there just called Thai Style Noodles. My recommendation is to start every meal with one of their Spicy Thai Style soups (Shrimp, Fish, Chicken or Pork), which are served in a flaming pot. Be careful though, this can be extremely spicy, my general rule is to order everything mild there. As for entrees, I have felt you can not go wrong with anything at Jaiya, but a favorite of mine has been the whole fish platter they have, known as the Jaiya special fish. When going to Jaiya, go for the food, the decor is nothing special, but that is not the reason you are there.

Klay Oven

414 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 527-3999

Well for once I took a break from work and went out for a nice sit down lunch, while in Chicago. This time I ended up at Klay Oven, in our hunt for Indian food. As most Indian restaurants Klay Oven has a lunch buffet. Living in New York, I have been to hundreds of Indian buffets and one problem with them is normally the balance between veg. and non veg. food. It seems a place is dominated by one of the other. This is where Klay Oven differed. They had an excellent selection of food in both areas. They had about 4 dishes each, rice your typical Indian salad of lettuce, onions and tomatoes. They also had couple of desserts, which I never had, since I did fill myself up with the buffet. I found myself addicted to the chicken curry and rice, I did not really try much more, except for a little of the palak (spinach). The food was not spicy at all either, so this is great place to go visit during lunch and not have to worry about burning a colleagues or clients palate.

Heaven on Seven

600 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601
http://www.heavenonseven.com/rush.html

First things first when you walk into Heaven on Seven you will notice a plethora of hot sauces along the walls, just a great setup for an exciting dinner. We started off with a couple of appetizer sampler plates. I am not really sure what was in the sampler, since most of it was fried. The items that stuck out were the friend corn muffin and ribs. The ribs were both meaty and juicy and tasted great own their own and with some over the various hot sauces. For my entree after looking over the menu about ten times, I went with the cajun surf and turf. It was a shrimp and beef cubes served over a bed of rice with a brown sauce. Every entree comes with a choice of soup, salad or gumbo. I had to try the gumbo, and for being my first time, I have to say I liked it a lot. Getting back to the entree itself, the beef was slightly over cooked for me, but the shrimps and sauce had a really exciting taste. I did have to add some hot sauce, mostly because there were so many options I wanted to taste them all. The dish was quite large, I did finsih all the pieces of beef and shrimp but left most of the rice. As for the hot sauces, there was a Trinidad hot sauce, which was my favorite. I just keep eating it with bread. For the spicest there was a green sauce, that had quite a kick to it. To bad I do not really remember the name. If you go, guess you have to try all the green ones til you figure it out.