New York has the reputation of being a very expensive place to live. It is well-deserved. Money goes flying out of your pockets faster than a $20 blow-job, which, by the way, in New York, is $100. Fortunately, there are a lot of cheapo breakfast and lunch spots for the working types: your egg-on-a-roll, your meat-on-a-stick, your dollar-slice, your dollar-dog, and your halal lamb-and-eggs, all of which can satisfy the most basic hunger and then get you back to work in a New York minute (which is officially four seconds). The five-for-a-dollar dumplings craze is still popular in Chinatown; so popular, in fact, that they are now four-for-a-dollar. The dumplings at Vanessa’s seem to be bigger than most, and their other menu items make it worth wading through the grime of non-gentrified Eldridge St. Although if you’ve never seen someone empty their nostrils, one at a time, by holding one and blowing the viscous stream of gungess out the other onto a city sidewalk, then you might consider that a plus. My point is, watch where you walk.
|Lunch at your Desk|
|Look Inside for your Prize!|
|Buns of Pork|
|Eight Fat Dumplings, Two Thin Dollars|
|All This for $7-That's a full quart of Congee, FYI|
The ‘sesame pancake sandwich’ is a big round of lightly fried dough more than two feet in diameter, that is then cut into slices like a pizza. The spongy slice I had was stuffed with ‘Peking duck’-duck meat, hoisin sauce, scallions ($2.50). Was it enough for lunch? Possibly. But since I had already made the trip, and dodged the dregs, I got a few other items-the ‘pork fried bun’ (3/$1); a large bowl of ‘mung bean congee’ ($1.50), great on a cold day and as a hangover cure; and of course two orders of the titular 'chive and pork fried dumplings’ (4/$1). All this food actually lasted for two lunches, so my total of $7 was cut in half, or $3.50/lunch per day. There are also a bunch of vegetarian items for those who swing that way, and they sell frozen dumplings, 50 a bag, for $9 (chive/pork) and up. And if you don’t want to make the trip, they do catering-although you’ll miss the tiny lady flipping the giant pancake, which brought squeals of delight from the Dutch tourists next to me. And you can’t put a price on squealing Dutch girls.