For anyone working in Midtown looking for a new take-out option at lunchtime, you might want to check out a place called Ata-Ru, located at 151 E. 43rd Street between Third and Lexington. It's a little Japanese cafe with a small, rotating selection of dishes, usually including a rice bowl, sushi, soup and salad. They also offer a selection of coffee, tea and soy drinks. While it's nothing amazing, they often have some good homestyle cooking that can hit the spot on a cold winter day.
The rice bowls are the main lunch option. Today for $6.50 they had sukiyaki served over rice. While the meat was somewhat fattier than I might have liked, it was tender and tasty and overall a very satisfying alternative to most of the take-out options in this neighborhood. Portion sizes are quite generous--I was very hungry and still couldn't manage to finish it all.
If you want to eat there, they have a small number of tables in the back, and the place is even set up for wireless Internet access. (There's also a gorgeous plasma TV on the back wall that I've been coveting.) While you're there, you can entertain yourself with their menu, which touts the alleged health benefits of each dish. Here's one describing their Spicy Tofu Rice Bowl: "Great for a healthy diet, this rice bowl contains pork with vitamin B1 and tofu which helps change the rice carbohydrates into energy making the brain active and stabilizing nervousness."
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