During the midtown lunch rush, take a break from the excruciating line at Hale and Hearty and go for something a little more authentic and unique. Whenever I'm stuck in the middle of Manhattan, Bento Noveau is my go-to spot. They offer a Japanese lunch at its finest; filling and tasty, yet light on the waistline.
Delights abound at Bento Noveau, from compact containers with plump shrimp shumai to my favorite, inari, rice stuffed tofu. Though I always come for the Udon, I often stay for the sushi roll. Big, beautiful rolls snake around the to-go section, glorious in avocado green, deep tuna red, and salmon pink. The flavor is ridiculously fresh and bright. Crave just a taste? Have a mini plain tuna roll for around $4. Keep your eyes peeled for mochi as well. No, not your ice cream filled Americanized twist likely found for a fortune at the likes of Nobu, but the dusty glutinous rice ball with red bean paste inside, room temperature. It's an acquired taste, but one that is worth the time. Really on the go? Eat a meal on the run in true Japanese style with Bento's perfectly compact rice ball, made of, you guessed it, rice wrapped in seaweed with a delicious bite of fish eggs, chicken, or salmon inside.
Their speciality is thick, slippery Udon noodles in a luscious broth, always made fresh before you. I prefer it with two gigantic shrimp tempura pieces, covered in a crispy golden brown crust, though plain vegetable and chicken are delicious and quite popular as well. A friend of mine likes to order the shumai and plop them in as dumplings! Clever indeed.
Grab a bottle of Japan's favorite bottled green tea and your meal is complete. Take a seat at Bento Noveau, though there are few, or enjoy your lunch to go at a little table on Broadway in the sun.