Two Dollar Dinner Special from Clinton Supermarket & Mall Corp., Street, 212-228-6289
Clinton Supermarket has steamtables that we have been eyeing for a few days now. Tonight, though, we decided to give the supermarket a try, but didn’t have the highest hopes — they are steam tables after all.
Disappointingly, the egg drop and hot and sour soups were all gone by that time, as were most of the entrees. We pointed to a vegetable and chicken dish, and breaded, fried fish. Other dishes available at that point included fried squid, crab, and shrimp, a mei fun-like pasta and perhaps pepper steak, too. The man behind the counter, when asked which seafood sampling was best, told us that all were prepped fresh, so it really depended on our taste. We were skeptical about that “freshness” claim, but there wasn’t much food there to argue over, so we bit our lip and went to pay.
When we got to the cash register, the woman told us “two dollars.”
“No,” we explained. “We have the chicken and the vegetables and the two big pieces of fried fish.”
“Yeah, that’s two dollars.”
“Two?” We might have been holding up fingers right then, just to drive the point home.
“Two dollars,” the woman nodded.
But this is New York, we wanted to say.
The gentleman, perhaps having heard our jaw crash against the ground, stepped over from his serving post to explain. After 8 p.m., he said, there’s a special — two picks for two bucks. Now it all made sense: when we arrived, there was a long line of school-age kids queueing up for Chinese food, which we didn’t understand. At that price, it’s strange there weren’t more.
The food didn’t taste like the cost by any means. In fact, the salmon and tilapia filets — dipped and fried in a tempura-like batter — did taste quite fresh, and the veggie-and-chicken selection was equal to that of a Cantonese-American takeout eatery.
So, yes: tonight, we might have stumbled upon the cheapest dinner in all of Manhattan. Does anyone know of anything less expensive?
(Also, if you are curious about another great steamtable place, the pig’s ear and chicken’s feet, and lo mein at Tops Food Co really excel.)