The bento box special at TKettle is a terrific deal.
A passel of off-price restaurants vie for your patronage on the westernmost block of St. Marks in the East Village. One of the best is TKettle, a Taiwanese chain under relatively deep cover.
The bento box special, available from noon till 4 p.m., offers a choice of six main dishes: fried pork chop, fried chicken chop, fried chicken thigh, basil popcorn chicken, stewed pork belly, and Taiwanese sausage. The box also contains lots of white rice, a half tea-boiled egg, a perfunctory salad, some purple pickled onions, and a couple of boxcars of fried fish cake. The “chicken thigh” is more like a quarter chicken, and the bird benefits from a sweet soy marinade.
The price — $5.50 — is nothing short of astonishing in this location and in this day and age. And in fine weather, an outdoor seating area allows you to watch the colorful hurly-burly of St. Marks as you knock back your lunch with either chopsticks or a knife and fork. 26 St. Marks Place, 212-982-9782
Bubble tea is another of TKettle’s specialties. Not surprising, since the frothy, fruity beverage was invented in Taiwan.