But my friend A. was in from California, so we decided on a quick (and cheap) lunch in midtown. We went to Obao, one of Michael Huynh's restaurants (and I say "one of" because he has, like, a trillion). Obao opened in November and is a refreshing respite from the delis and sub-par dining experiences that make midtown lunch what it is. To start, we ordered pork belly skewers, which came lacquered in a salty, sticky sauce and accompanied by pickled vegetables. They were tasty, and not at all good for us. To that appetizer, we added two separate noodle dishes: radish noodles with shrimp, which were a soft, pan-seared noodle, and Singapore noodles with Chinese sausage, which were a little flavorless but improved with a helping of hoisin sauce (available at every table).
The food was a tad greasy, but satisfying enough. It's not hard to understand why Huynh has been so successful.
For dinner, I wanted seafood, but my dining companion was pregnant, which ruled out raw fish. So we headed to the East Village's Mermaid Inn, which has been around for a while. I wanted fluke ceviche, but settled for a shared crab cake. It was made with lump crab meat (delish) and served atop a very mayonnaise-y cole slaw (fine by me). All those thoughts of a nice fillet of fish were dashed in the face of a lobster sandwich, which arrived on a fresh and buttery piece of brioche. In the interest of health, I substituted grilled asparagus for my French fries and was not disappointed by the hearty, smoky spears. My sandwich was more lobster than even I could handle, and I took half home. In lieu of dessert menus, our server brought tiny cups of chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top, a slight disappointment. They tasted over-refrigerated. But no matter. Despite the cold, the lobster sandwich just might have been worth the trip.
222 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
96 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003