Ratchanee Sumpatboon, previously of Poodam's and Zabb Elee, is now serving her fiery and pungent Isan Thai cuisine in Hell's Kitchen. Less-daring dishes are also available, especially on the lunch special menu, such as this bowl of ba mee ($9), thin egg noodles with roasted pork, lump crab meat, and yu choy. Mine was a "dry" order, that is, with the soup (not shown) served separately, beside a small, tart papaya salad.
Also: i tim bo ran ($5), coconut ice cream topped with palm seeds, corn, peanuts, and torn bits of bread. The dessert menu identified this presentation as "Thai-style," but according to my server a more literal translation would be "old-school."
"Breakfast at Bickford's" was a tradition, or at the least a dependable fallback, for many New Yorkers during the middle of the last century. These quick-service food shops — under the same ownership, they also went by other names in the Northeast and in the Miami and San Francisco areas — fell into decline during the 1960s and, in New York, disappeared entirely during the 1980s.
The signage seen here was reportedly uncovered in 2000, when a deteriorating metal facade was taken down outside another vanishing breed of New York business, the adult entertainment center.
Bickford's Surviving signage at 488 Eighth Ave. (34th-35th Sts.), Manhattan
Diner, not a diner. Though I've never set foot inside Harrie's and can't vouch for the current menu, its swaying lantern brought to mind the yearlong transformation of the Mill, near Columbia University, from luncheonette to Korean restaurant. The Mill's scrambled-egg breakfast special is a thing of the past, but the egg cream and lime rickey are still in play.
Even the "single" sized serving of this Japanese joint's katsu curry ($7.50) provided a sliced-up slab of panko-crusted pork cutlet atop a nearly equal expanse of white rice. Both found comfort in a pool of heavy, black-peppery sauce that made the merest nod toward sweetness. White shreds of cabbage offered crunchy contrast; so did a bright red heap of fukujinzuke ($1), a traditional accompaniment of soy-sauce-pickled radish.
Though it's not completely readable from street level, this sign probably pointed hungry New Yorkers to the automat at 1557 Broadway, between 46th and 47th streets. The city's first Horn & Hardart, it opened in 1912 and survived longer than most, giving way to a Burger King in the mid-1970s.
At this fraternal twin of Burgers & Cupcakes, my sandwich ($7.95) pressed beef meatballs — oniony, but a bit undercooked and soggy — between warm ciabatta. Good overall; credit also the sauce and the greens.
Mitchel London Pizza 456 Ninth Ave. (35th-36th Sts.) 212-563-7741
Several years ago, when this eatery opened as an outpost of the Philly chain Tony Luke's, the interior was stark, white, and strictly a standup operation. No seats, just a narrow counter along each side wall and a window at the back. Only the handwritten "We Are Open" sign, and reports of one particular sandwich, encouraged me to step inside.
The "Esposito Pork Store" has been a full-spectrum butcher for many years; even so, I walked away from a recent visit with a porcine sampler of pancetta, sorpressata, and capricola. As for this provolone and parsley sausage ($3.29 per pound), it was too cheesy, mild, and soft for my taste. Plenty others to choose from another time.
Giovanni Esposito & Sons 500 Ninth Ave. (at 38th St.) 212-279-3298 Closed Sunday
Fresh-mixed it was, but my chosen chaat fell flat. Kachori bhel ($5.50) comprised puffed crisps with beans, pulses, and "kachori potatoes" (were they batter-fried? I'm simply not sure) in "sauce and mint water" that wetted down the mix.
As for this masala Coke ($2.50), it was a lightly spiced soda that doesn't bear reordering.
Premises are no more than you'd expect for a Garment District feeding spot, but the staff are friendly and the long menu plays numerous riffs on many themes; I'd be willing to pay another visit.
Dimple 11 West 30th St. (Fifth-Sixth Aves.) 212-643-9464