Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cheap Eats In The Big Apple

These Noodles Are The Bomb... Take It From MEE

I’ve long wondered how New Yorkers can afford to eat out as much as they do.

I mean, restaurants in this city aren’t cheap by any means… reflected in the fact that many restaurants use $25 an entrée as an average. Add a salad or app, cocktail, dessert and tip… well that $100 bones per couple. Add a bottle of wine and… well, you can add it up.

It wasn’t long after I moved to NYC that I learned how they do it.

Most New Yorkers don’t eat out in an “upscale” manner nightly. They love their neighborhood dives… cheap eats. They do this several nights a week…so when the big night rolls around, they can splurge.

New Yorkers are passionate about cheap eats. They are known to take the subway to another borough, a 45 minute bus ride, you name it… just to spend $1.30 for a taco. Water cooler chat in my office centers around slices of pizza and chicken shwarma sandwiches. I love that!

That said, please welcome my first truly cheap eat entry…. MEE Noodle Shop.

It was nearly 10 years ago when I first found Mee. I was staying painfully close to Hell’s Kicthen where a recording studio I was working at was located. It was about 1:45 in the morning when I finally finished and met up with a friend who suggested we drop in for dumplings.

The rest is history.

Since that night, I’ve been frequenting Mee whenever I am in the neighborhood… or low on cash. And why not? Mee is a gem of a dive (although not a huge secret anymore) and can dish out the goods with the best of them. And you can get out of there for less than $10 bucks.

They take the noodle thing seriously at Mee. How many do they carry? Well, you can get the spinach noodles, the mandarin, lo mein, thin Cantonese, flat Cantonese, hand pulled, mee fun or chow fun. You can slurp down a variety of dumplings, including steamed meat, seafood and veggie… or get them pan fried. They offer 30 varieties of Cantonese style noodle soups (no charge to change noodle to wonton), and offer 25 varieties of various other soups (squid, fish cake, tofu, tomato beef, hot and sour, Chinese green vegetable, shanghai wonton, etc, etc) as well…. All for around $3.95., for a bucket full. This menu has over 500 items and reads like a trip to Jerry’s Deli. Fantastic.

As for me, I love the food food here. The shrimp toast is terrific, the egg rolls are crispy and contain not a drop of grease and the scallion pancakes ($1.95) may very well be worth the trip alone. You’ll find a few dim sum items here as well, including steam bread with sweet bean paste, pork buns, shrimp siu mai and the like… as well as sizzling platters. For those who are looking for standard grub, their menu reads like a gathering of every Chinese dish in NYC…. Sesame beef and chicken, beef and broccoli… well hell, they have everything. Most large dishes run less than $9 bucks.

I happen to love the subgum wonton here. Fried wonton over beef, chicken and shrimp stir fried with veggies in a spicy brown sauce. Monster dish.

So, the cat is out of the bag. Mee noodle is the kind of late night Chinese dives, and the food is flat out delish. Next time you find yourself drifting through midtown towards Hell’s Kitchen, stop by. For the price of a #3 value meal you can have some authentic dim sum and a bowl of noodles…. and still have change for the cream puff place in the west village.


795 9th Ave at 53rd
New York 10019


Phone: 212-765-2929