In the chaos of Midtown, Radiance Tea House on 55th Street is something of a second-floor oasis, a place of calm that houses a restaurant, tea shop, and bookstore all in one room. The tea menu is mindboggling, in the sheer number of options available on a daily basis and the quality of those options. I indulge in the more serious teas on afternoon and weekend visits when tea, and not lunch, is my focus. But during lunch, it's the causal, lighthearted drinks I head for. Those include Iced Tea Lattes ($5.50) in options like Taro, Matcha, and Earl Grey, or sweet drinks that combine tea and espresso, such as the Mint Rendezvous ($7), a blend of Moroccan mint tea with espresso, milk, and sugar.
And to eat? Lunch entrees (priced from $9.95 - $12.95) come with small salads in ginger-carrot dressing and a little bowl of edamame. Nothing on the menu is adventurous, but everything is reliable—from the Onigiri Set, which lets you pick three rice balls from a list including wasabi shrimp, lobster, and ume, to the Shrimp and Avocado Bowl with a white miso sauce. Dumplings are also featured, though for this price, you're better off with their other dishes. My favorite? Their very clean and light take on a usually heavy dish of Chinese Sesame Noodles. Served at room temperature, e-mein noodles are tossed with a creamy dressing made from sesame paste, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. A little bit of minced ginger, toasted sesame seeds, and shredded chicken and steamed bok choy to finish. They'll ask if you want it spicy, and to that, I'd recommend a "yes"—that one splash of spicy sesame oil makes all the difference in flavor.