Food

The Best Cheap Midtown Lunch Can Be Found at Wajima

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That strange corridor around the East 59th Street stop, an area known more for bustling chain stores than its restaurants, is not exactly a dining destination. Luckily, one of the handful of exceptions is currently firing on all cylinders, as it has been for about ten years. Wajima (134 East 61st Street; 212-813-9065) is a small Japanese restaurant, often packed at midday, and it serves one of the tastiest — and cheapest — lunch deals in the city.

With so many sky-high office towers in the area, Wajima is in a great spot for lunch breaks. Its simple, wood-paneled dining room is small, offering efficient service and lunch specials that draw a crowd. Ranging from $12.50 to $14.50, the three lunch deals are generously portioned, with an assortment of treats.

For $12.50 (less than the price of a sandwich and soup at nearby Hale and Hearty), you can get a nice selection of chirashi sushi, including fresh cuts of orange-hued salmon, ruby-red tuna, and sweet layers of tamago, along with freshly made cold soba noodles, ultra-flaky shrimp and vegetable tempura, and miso soup. The real winner of the daily offerings is chawanmushi, a silky warm egg custard, served with chopped shrimp and chicken on top.

And if sushi isn’t your game, the $14.50 special gets you ultra-thin beef sukiyaki in a rich, warm broth, in addition to tender agedashi tofu. Wajima also serves just about every sushi roll and platter you could hope for.