One of the nice things about Panya in the East Village is the constant change and addition to its menus—no matter how often I visit, there are always little surprises to discover. In the summer the bakery added shave ice, and just a week later, green tea soft-serve to their lineup of sweets. With hits and misses, not everything is great, but it's a reliable lunch spot.
We wrote up their cooked-to-order meals earlier this year, and I still turn to those lunches frequently. But when I stopped by last week, the menu had changed. There was a Mexican lunch section! Mexican? In a Japanese bakery? As you could imagine, I had my doubts. But it was so cheap! Burritos, quesadillas and tacos...all only $4.50. I had to check it out.
The tacos and burritos come in chicken or beef, but the quesadilla offers the choice of shrimp, grilled chicken, or mushrooms. The serving size is perfectly adequate for lunch, and come with a petite salad, salsa and guacamole. Authentic? Far from it! But it makes a pretty good lunch. Upon taking the first bite of my Chicken Tacos, I tasted something awfully familiar—the flavors were subtly Asian. There was plenty of black pepper mixed with the sautéed chicken, along with sliced onions and a splash of soy sauce. I grew up in an Asian household and on "taco" nights, all the food would inevitably have an unintentionally applied Asian twist. It was almost nostalgic! Same went for an order of the Mushroom Quesadilla, a bit too generous with the cheese—eat fast, lest it turn rubbery.
And since we're already eating Mexican in a Japanese establishment, do pair your lunch with their Thai Iced Teas—not traditional, but delicious, creamier and less sweet than the norm.
10 Stuyvesant Street, New York NY 10003 (map) 212-777-1930
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