Ed. Note: Our new neighborhood is so riddled with crazy inexpensive lunch deals that we've decided to try out as many as we can. Our lunch today could be your lunch tomorrow.

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt] Spare ribs, boiled chicken, and house special salty chicken

A mere stone's throw from our office door under an awning that says nothing but "OK 218 Grand Restaurant" is one of the many hole-in-the-wall Chinese barbecue joints that specialize in roasted meats. You know, the kind that hang ducks and spare ribs up in their windows?

At OK 218, for a mere $5.50, you get your choice of three different meats along with white rice and sauteed cabbage. We sampled most of what they've got. Here are our thoughts:

  • Spare ribs are tender and sweet, but nothing special.
  • Boiled chicken was the best of the hanging meats, with incredibly tender, almost custard-like flesh and the mild aroma of ginger and scallions.
  • Special salty chickenboasted nice flavor, but was a little dry for our tastes.

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Roast pork, soy sauce chicken, and roast duck

  • Like the pork spareribs, the roast pork was also serviceable, if unspectacular.
  • Soy sauce chicken was middle of the road as far as chicken goes. Nicely flavored and deep brown with soy sauce, but a little drier than the boiled chicken.
  • Roast duck was crisp-skinned, slightly greasy (in a good, ducky way), and at $5.50, one helluva deal.

If we went back, we'd probably order the boiled chicken and roast duck as a two-way on rice ($5.50). All of the meats come with a tasty sauce of finely mashed scallions and ginger. Greatest Chinese BBQ meats on the planet? No way. Extraordinary lunch deal? Indeed, it is. Three of us went, were stuffed after finishing two-thirds of the food, and walked out for under $20, including two Cokes and bottomless tea.

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Pork chop with salt and pepper

Those with a larger appetite might opt for the Pork Chops with Salt and Pepper ($8.50). Extremely tender and coated in a crisp, grease-free coating, they're not as salty or peppery as some versions of the dish, but have juiciness to spare.

OK 218 Grand Restaurant

218 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013 (map)

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