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Challenge: Sunday lunch for 6 within 10 blocks of Grand Central; inexpensive (long)

pixellle | May 27, 201505:56 AM

OK, here's my problem. I used to live in NYC; now I live nearby. Obvs, food is near and dear to me.

Some relatives and I, forming a group of 6, have been meeting about every second or third month. For years now, we've met for dim sum, either in Chinatown (Jing Fong) or Westchester (Central Seafood, Hartsdale).

Dim Sum had a lot of advantages for us. It was cheap and delicious. We could take up a whole table, and the experience is entertainment as well.

In our group, we have: two people who "don't like spicy," a young man with a large appetite; three fairly timid eaters (although they all grew up in or near NYC, so many ethnic cuisines are familiar to them), two adventurous "foodies," and one willing to try. Plus two older people who have trouble walking long distances.

I've been asked to choose a place within 8-10 blocks of Grand Central, for the six of us to meet, on a Sunday, for lunch. *sigh*

I'm not a huge fan of "brunch," but if you've got a really good one, sure, let's hear about it. Otherwise, I was thinking ethnic of some kind. Cost: I have to make them aware that we won't get the kind of value-for-a-buck that we've been getting with dim sum, now that we're meeting in midtown. They'd like to keep cost in the cheap-to-inexpensive range, maybe up to $30 pp before tax/tip/drinks? And a place that doesn't hustle us out too quickly would be great.

I had been thinking Xi'An Famous Foods, but have been told that it wouldn't be good for a group of six.

I thought of Cho Dang Gol, an atypical Korean place known for homemade tofu and homestyle dishes. Does that seem like a good choice? I've read good things about it.

A few of us aren't crazy about meeting at a Korean BBQ where you cook it yourself, as we do enough cooking, and want to be able to talk without having to keep track of turning times. Korean food is fine, thought; maybe some Koreatown restaurants have other good dishes that you don't have to pay attention to...?

If they weren't too far, I'd try places like Gazala (Druze/MiddleEastern); Bali Nusa Indah (Indonesian); Naya (Middle Eastern, pricy but can do meze); Haldi (Indian/Jewish); or Empanada Mama.

So, do you have any good suggestions where a group of 6 can eat on Sunday lunch, and satisfy both the foodie and the timid eater, linger for a bit so we can chat and catch up, and keep it pretty cheap??? I'd jump on a sushi bar, but with the way I order, it gets expensive. Any ramen places near GC? Other suggestions?

It could be that, given our short-walk-from-Grand-Central restriction, we should think about more "traditional" brunch options as well as the ethnic ones I was first thinking of. If you've got a good one, let me know.

Thanks so much! Grand Central area is always so hard... I really appreciate your help!!

Jing Fong,
Central Seafood,
Cho Dang Gol,
Gazala Place,
NAYA Mezze & Grill,
Empanada Mama - LES,
Xi'an Famous Foods
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