For this month’s blog, I’ve decided to feature not a new found pleasure, but one of my old favorites.
Back in 2002 I was the Administrative Director for the WorkShop Theater Company and our company, along with the Vital Theatre Company, Pulse Ensemble Theatre, the New Perspectives Theatre Company, and many other off-off Broadway companies got priced out of our 42nd Street homes and moved south, to the no-man’s land north and west of Penn Station. They say that artists revitalize “transitional” neighborhoods in NYC, and we did. But in those first few years of transition, we struggled to entice audiences out to our unknown neighborhoods and walked for block after windy block to find an after-show meal.
One oasis in this food desert, still going strong, is Cuisine of Pakistan on 9th Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets. The food at Cuisine of Pakistan is stick-to-your-ribs, warm-your-heart, make-your-nose-run spicy good. There is a small kitchen and about five booths, but the main attraction is a food counter with daily specials that include a variety of meats and vegetables. Meat combos are $8.99 and include two meat dishes over a heaping plate of rice (seriously, like three cups of rice!). A vegetable combo is $7.99. All combos come with salad and a spicy, yet cooling sauce. The take-out portions are larger than eat-in and can easily supply a hungry young actress with three satisfying meals (that’s like $2.99 a meal!). My favorites are the boneless Chicken Curry and the spicy, smoky Lentils. The Chicken Tikka is also great, succulent and flavorful, and goes for $1 for three pieces.
The staff is friendly and efficient and remembers their regular customers with a smile. This warm-hearted spot is also an oasis for taxi drivers who take advantage of the quick service and the semi-private, quiet area the restaurant provides for those who need to perform daily prayers in the middle of their busy New York lives.
Cuisine of Pakistan is located at 478 9th Avenue between West 36th and West 37th Streets, two blocks from the A/C/E Train to 34th Street/Penn Station.