Lunch for One: Satay Junction

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[Photo: Kathy Chan]

The newly opened Satay Junction in the West Village seats exactly sixteen in a narrow, cozy restaurant. Unlike the former occupant of this space, Lassi, Satay Junction offers full table service. Start your meal with Es Alpukat ($4), an buttery avocado smoothie served in a chocolate-lined glass. The smoothie itself is barely sweetened with condensed milk; it's quite airy, with little cuts of unblended avocado suspended in the mass. Only complaint? I wish they blended the avocado with cold coffee, as per a traditional Es Alpukat.

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It was opening week on my visit, and each table was give Krupuk Udang and Putih ($2, pictured at top), and a tasting dish ($3) of sweet sambal, spicy sambal, and acar. The shrimp and tapioca chips were fried to order, still hot as they reached the table, and easy vehicles for the sambals and house-pickles I quickly tucked away.

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Dishes are on the smaller side, so you may need two for a complete meal. Perhaps the Gado Gado and a noodle dish. Or the Soto Ayam and Satays? Many options to mix and match. I was in the mood for Mee Goreng, which starts at $4 with vegetables and goes up to $11 with shrimp. Served at the spice level of your choosing, the dish was not overly sweet, which is too often the case in restaurants here. A steaming, well-spiced tangle of egg noodles with chili, diced tomatoes, eggs, carrots, and cabbage, just large enough to make you want more. More chips and pickles on the side.

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And you cannot leave without a taste of the house satays. Select any three (out of eight options) for $5. They were out of lamb and fish on my particular visit, so I made do with a slightly less exciting set of beef, chicken, and tofu. The dish comes strewn in fried shallots and is served atop housemade peanut sauceā€”a winner, savory and rich with diced peanuts. While the chicken was overcooked, the success of the beef and tofu satays, with tumeric shining though clearly, led me to hope the chicken was a fluke. For dessert, there are two choices: fried bananas with honey and ice cream, and a baked cassava cake with grated coconut. We'll be back to try the latter.

Satay Junction

28 Greenwich Avenue, New York NY 10011 (map) 212-929-9400
satayjunction.com