I’ve developed a strange new obsession with Yip’s, a block from my office. I had managed to steer clear of the bi-level (restaurant upstairs, buffet downstairs) Chinese joint for over two years. Curiosity fueled by a cheapskate quest for a few pieces of char siu my cheapskate ways finally got me in the door.
Keeping a lunch under $5 (ok, I’ll go up to $6) in the Financial District is no easy feat so the banner touting the $3.49/lb buffet after 1:45pm (and a still not expensive $5.39/lb before then) was perfect since I rarely eat a midday meal before 2pm anyway. And if you spend more than $5 you get a free can soda. I've never hit this mark yet but I wonder if they'll give you bottled water, for some reason water is considered more precious.
The thing is the sweet barbecue pork is nearly gone by 1:15pm and the whole thing is decimated by 2pm. People go nuts for sweet and sour pork, fried fish and spareribs, apparently. There is also traditional salad bar (you know, with lettuce and vegetables—yet also sushi and crab legs) in the center of the room but it gets less play. I couldn’t help but notice the poor tray of bitter melon with beef that had all the beef picked out. The place is full of carnivorous heathens.
No, it’s not particularly healthy and way oily but sometimes I need a cheap lowish carb break from my typical midday cup of soup from a carton (black bean chipotle is good, sweet pea puree isn’t bad). I stay away from rice, noodles, heavily breaded things and dense bones (the duck chunks do call my name, though). I end up with 40% vegetables and 60% mixed hodgepodge, a ration I'm trying to reverse.
This is what I got for $3.88: salt and pepper shrimp and squid, bean curd with mushrooms, spinach, green beans, roast pork, zucchini and black beans (the chicken had been all picked out). Lots of mismatched items in small doses that are satisfying enough for my junk tooth.
This isn’t my first foray into questionably cheap Chinese food. There used to be a place on the ground floor of a downtown Portland hospital called Dollar Chinese Food. Actually, I don't know if that was its proper name or if it even had one, but that’s what everyone called it because of the $1 Chinese Food advertised on the sidewalk sandwich board. If I remember correctly for $1 you got a small paper plate with rice, a scoop of an entrée of your choice, and I'm fairly certain one of those tiny hard cabbage filled spring rolls.
Yip’s is way less depressing, if you can imagine. (5/17/09)
Yip’s * 18 Beaver St., New York, NY