This guy sells the killer tamarind balls, 4 for $1
All morning during the endless waiting of jury duty, I imagined scallop tacos and tamarind balls, two of the delicacies I knew were awaiting me at lunchtime. The hour and a half lunch break is more than generous, so after a brisk walk to Grand Central, I had plenty of time to look around. I was worried to see that there seem to be several more empty stalls than the last time I was there. What will become of them? A Chinese massage operation has moved into one (I recommend trying the female masseuse; I'm a bit bruised today from the male masseur.)
Since people actually live Downtown now, in addition to tons of office workers, couldn't there be a Langer's stand? A Pink's stand? A Tommy's stand? Perhaps a change of pace from Mexican and dubious Chinese?
Anyway, lunch at Maria's Fresh Seafood was certainly one of the better $5 lunches I've had lately -- when you order a scallop taco they scoop up some raw scallops, bread them lightly with cornmeal and fry them right in front of you. The shrimp tostada had a huge quantity of super-fresh shrimp for $2.50 -- so much that you should probably get extra chips to soak it up. Before my Chinese chair torture, I picked up some tamarind balls at one of the many Mexican mole/chile/spices stands -- despite having many surprise tamarind seeds at the center, these are about my favorite sweet of all time, and Grand Central is the only place I ever see them. I ended my break with a pretty decent espresso from the fresh juice/coffee/boba place, which still didn't stop me from feeling drowsy the rest of the afternoon. I hope tomorrow's jury duty, when I'll probably strike out towards Little Tokyo, will be just as tasty.