Several mom-and-pop joints in Chinatown offer lunch specials, but none of them come even close to the deal that's on the menu for five hours everyday, at the tiny, off-the-beaten-path Ichiban Cafe, a block West of busy Wentworth Avenue. For just $2.25 - they offer nine different dishes, all of them hearty and satisfying.
"Different tastes; salt you have sweet and sour, you have curry flavor, and then you have some Peking-style. Chinese food have a lot of variety...so we cover all of our major, like, tastes," said Aries Leung of Ichiban Café.
Onions and green pepper show up frequently in these dishes. In this case, they're combined with ground pork and chilies, wok-fried, then plated over toothsome egg noodles. Other times, he'll lightly coat pork filets in flour, fry them, then add them to a stir-fry along with sweet-and-sour sauce.
Chicken is also used frequently for these lunch specials; the salt and spice chicken is a popular option? so are the Singapore noodles, laced with vegetables, these thin, angel hair-like strands are small, yet substantial, when mounded this high on a plate.
Leung says he realizes he won't make much money on a dish that sells for just over two bucks.. but he's trying to lure in business off of Wentworth Avenue and keep loyal customers once they see how everything tastes.
"We try to give opportunity for people to come out, the consumer to come out to eat lunch or dinner. It's cheaper than you cook at home," Leung said.
You can order ahead and pick up the lunch specials to go.. Incidentally, there is another quick-serve restaurant just to the east of ichiban.. Also serving up very reasonably-priced Chinese food.
212 W. 23rd St.