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Lunch Break in Hell’s Kitchen: It’s Always a Good Time at ChaPa’s Noodles and Grill

I consider myself lucky to be working in a neighborhood of NYC that offers good quality and inexpensive food. Hell’s Kitchen is known for it’s grungy flair — the nitty gritty old New York nostalgia — and its variety of restaurants. At around 11:30 every day, my colleagues and I begin emailing back and forth about what kind of food we’re in the mood for.

Thai? Mexican? Japanese? Vietnamese?

More often than not we settle on Vietnamese because there is a great little restaurant right across from our office building called ChaPa’s Noodles and Grill.

ChaPa’s serves up the perfect bowl of Pho noodle soup that really warm you up on wintery days. But be careful of timing when choosing to dine at ChaPa’s— it gets a huge lunch crowd and it’s hard to wait for a table with only an hour lunch break. Get there slightly before 1:00 pm or around 1:30 pm and you should be in the clear.

*Foodie’s Tip: The lunch special is from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm and comes with one entree and choice of salad or spring roll.

The Chicken Pho entree is a Vietnamese soup comparable to ramen but made with glassy rice noodles and has a lighter broth with a few herbs.

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The fun part about Pho, is that you get a say in exactly how it’s flavored. Served alongside this soup is a platter of various sauces to enhance the flavor.

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Here we have three sauces. The top one is a less spicy version of a sriracha sauce. The middle is akin to a sweet and sour sauce. The last one has the most heat with bits of red pepper in it. To the left are bean sprouts and hot peppers. Also note the accompanying spoon: this spoon is used along with chopsticks. The easiest way to eat pho is to use the chopsticks to pick up the noodles and/or chicken and position it on the spoon. The spoon hovers under the chopsticks to catch anything that slips away as you maneuver the noodles, chicken, and veggies into your mouth. It sounds a lot trickier than it actually is.

The spring roll was served fried and stuffed with pork. Note how it glistens (yum).

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ChaPa’s serves a black lychee tea that’s hard to find in most restaurants. The lychee undertones cut out the bitterness of normal black tea. It tastes delightful without milk or sugar.

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ChaPa’s has a cool beer selection as well; mostly from east Asian countries. Stop in during Happy Hour and they’re only $4. This chalkboard labels the countries where all of the beers underneath are from.

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In addition to their signature Pho, ChaPa’s has great Vietnamese sandwiches that are equally as scrumptious. Note that Banh Mi is the Vietnamese term for bread.

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ChaPa’s is a cozy joint with friendly and helpful staff. Don’t miss out on their other menu items either, which include a variety of vegetarian options. Indulge yourself at this Hell’s Kitchen lunch staple.

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Bridget Kiley

Vermont native living in New York for the past four years. I studied Literature and Creative Writing at Pace University and continue to write short fiction, poetry, and for my blog The Witty Agent. In the kitchen, I am first and foremost a baker with a specialty for cupcakes and homemade frosting. I am always up for experimenting/improvising with recipes and discovering something amazing. I also have a profound love for musicals and reading Shakespeare out loud in a British accent.