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Kati Rolls, Azusa, ‘wichcraft, Veselka (& beer!) and Pizza from the 32nd Floor

October 05, 2007


So today is Friday, which means it’s the fifth day of the very first, real life, full-time job I’ve ever had! Exciting!!! And you know what? Work is more or less kinda cool. It’s really all about the people. I basically stare at numbers on a computer screen all day and learn about stuff, but because the people I work with in the office are sooo awesome, all is good! The best part of the work day is taking lunch breaks. I looooooove lunch break!!!

On Tuesday I went with a friend over to Kati Roll on 38th St for…well, you guessed it, Kati Rolls! I’ve often passed by the MacDougal St location down in the Village, but never found the opportunity to stop in. We got two rolls: the one on the left is paneer roll marinated in spicy pickle, and the one to the right is the Unda Beef Roll, a combination of beef and egg. The beef one was a unanimous favorite for the fair degree of zest and spiciness rounding out the soft chunks of beef, eggs and onions. In normal circumstances I favor dairy based products over meat, but the paneer in this case was severely under, or not even seasoned at all. A plus for the fresh paratha, just greasy enough, but far from overkill with a nice chew…if I could have it my way, I’d just have a trio of parathas and a side bowl of Vietnamese curry for dipping!

On Thursday I had the most un-delicious lunch of my life since arrive in NYC. Nine of us headed for a 1pm lunch at Azusa, just a few streets up from the office. The lunch looked to be semi-promising (judging by the crowds – which turned out to be a BIG mistake) and the prices were good. I opted for the lunch special, which includes a whole lotta stuff for under $9.75.

To start: a dismissive bowl of extremely salty miso soup with tofu and wakame.

It began to look bad when the California Rolls arrived at the table. BAD NEWS BABY. Dude, the rolls didn’t even stick together. You pick it up with chopsticks and it just completely fell apart at the table. Some of it fell on my lap. Disaster. I don’t even want to know what kind of rice they used. And the rice was still warm and super loosely wrapped with a tiny smidgen of avocado in each bite.

Here’s the salad with a miso based dressing. Noticed the wilted brown leaves? Attractive, eh? To the right is a ‘seasonal’ fruit salad – we’re not even going to talk about that.

The chicken karrage was the only part of the meal I enjoyed, dark meat lightly fried – this was actually pretty good stuff!

And you know what was the saddest part? The special came with these beef rolls and NO RICE. You’d think we were all on Atkins or something equally ridiculous. Well anyways, I wanted rice really badly, but I was too lazy to ask for some. So I just ate these tough stringy, fatty rolls of beef smothered in a sugary ‘teriyaki’ sauce. Dandy. Take my word for it. Don’t come here. It is baaaaaaaddd.

After the 90 minute lunch, we decided make it a party and exteeeennnnd our lunch break with ice cream at the ‘wichcraft stand in Bryant Park.

Scooping my order of…

…banana ice cream with toffee sauce. The banana flavor was genuine (also evidenced by the very brown color of the ice cream) and shown though nicely, but the texture was an utter mess! Ice shards all over the place, it was like ice cream mixed with sharply crushed ice…or something to that extent, bwhahaha. The toffee sauce was strangely flavorless save for the saccharine sweet flavor. You’re better off at Shake Shack (where the prices are also slightly less :)

Fabiana’s vanilla with brownie chunks…the brownies were super awesome, though they tasted strangely reminiscent of Betty Crocker…

Later that night, a friend and I had a late dinner at Veselka in the East Village. I’ve been dying to try this place for a million years and am very glad I finally did! The main menu item I’ve been craving (is it possible to crave something you’ve never eaten??) were the pierogi’s. What’s a pierogi, you ask? It’s MAGIC! It is soooo goood! Okay. So. It’s basically dough wrapped with fillings (potato/sweet potato/cheese/spinach & cheese/meat/sauerkraut & mushroom) and either boiled or deep fried. It is soooo goood! Ooops. I already said that. Sorry. But it really is! The ‘special’ pierogi of the month was a broccoli and cheddar combo, so we split an order of that. And splitting is a very good thing to do. Especially when you opt to get them deep fried. And opt to smother them with a generous helping of sour cream and sautéed onions. OOooh, so wonderful! The dough has got this lightly crisp exterior, and it’s not completely the hard kind of crispy, like a Chinese wonton, but like puffy, crisp fried bread with a thin layer of soft, doughy innards supported by a melted conglomeration of cheddar and broccoli. Oh yeeeeaaaah.

We countered this heavy dish with…more heavy food! Awesome! Even though it was sweltering hot last night the Bigos, a Ukrainian stew sounded very much appealing. It’s described on the menu as a “stew of kielbasa, roast pork, sauerkraut and onions.” P.S. It’s also served with mashed potatoes! Sounds like something a hunter would eat. I’m an accountant. No matters. Hunters burn calories and accountants burn through numbers. Same thing as far as I’m concerned!

The Bigos came with a side dish option, and the options were aplenty: beet salad, home fried potatoes, potato pancakes, kasha, egg noodles and a few more). However as tempting as the options were, we really needed something to lighten up the meal, hence this salad. It was a decent fresh salad, but the dill based dressing really did the trick. Salad (those composed solely of leaves) is really nothing more than a vehicle for good dressing you know? And this was a good dressing indeed. So good that we found ourselves pouring some over the pierogi’s and mashed potatoes!

We complimented our dinner with two very lovely bottles of Ukrainian beer, one each of Obolon in lager and premium. If you’ve been following along this blog for a while, you might be aware that I was a strictly do-not-drink-any-alchol-at-all person…until two weeks ago!!! Bwhahaha. Reasonings behind that are completely not appropriate for this blog. Back to the beer. I really don’t know much about beer at all, but it’s starting to grow on me. It’s not the taste or flavor I find appealing, but rather the warm, fuzzy feeling you get afterwards. It’s like someone gave you a million hugs!! No, I am not drunk. But beer seriously makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Like drinking a soda that’s not sweet. Or fizzy water with a bit of kick. You know-ish? Like that? Never mind.

Well I went to sleep that night very, very full and felt quite disgusting when I woke up at 5am the next morning, cause I had to be at work super duper early!

After today’s super looong Friday morning, a friend and I planned to redeem Wednesday’s lunch at Azusa with some real good sushi. But before we could leave, we stopped by the 32nd floor to check out our new mailboxes (woohoo, mailboxes!!) Each floor of the office is organized in a super confusing layout which forces you to walk endless circles before you can locate what you need. But this time we found something super awesome…FREE PIZZA! Well…it was sitting in the lunchroom. But there must have been like 50 boxes filled with pizza from a place in Midtown called Little Italy (that’s what the box said…). The pizza party was clearly over, but there was sooo much leftover, and we gladly helped ourselves to a slice of the spinach and ricotta combo. A brief pop in the microwave (blasphmey, I know!) to bring it back to life, and, well, we were quite happy first year associates! :)

Kati Roll
49 W 39th St.
New York, NY 10036
(212) 730-4280

Azusa of Japan
3 E 44th St.
New York, NY 10017
(212) 681-0001

Bryant Park
6th Avenue between 40th & 42nd Street
New York, NY 10110
(212) 938-0283

144 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-9682

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