When I was a boy growing up in the Midwest, dinner was a treadmill of nourishing but boring meals: meat loaf, roast chicken, instant mashed potatoes, frozen veggies, and the inevitable Friday-night fish sticks. Though we never yearned for more exotic fare, one evening my father appeared at the front door with a bag of curious white cartons. We eagerly pulled the tops open to find steaming Cantonese stir-fries of weird vegetables tossed with tender morsels of meat. The smell alone drove us nuts.
Find the best restaurants that are worth the splurge: sushi, Chinese, Indian, and noodles
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Cheap Chow Now (2001): Top 100 Inexpensive Restaurants in New York City
Little did I imagine that years later I’d have not one but two dozen Asian cuisines to choose from, and instead of just chop suey and chow mein, I’dbe tasting thousands of assertively flavored dishes from the other side of the globe.
Here’s a ranked list of my 100 favorite inexpensive Asian restaurants. The list required months of researchchasing down tips, confirming earlier finds, and revisiting favorite places that I’d been unable to return to for months or even years. Suspected there was no good Japanese in the Bronx? You were almost rightbut I found one superior sushi bar in Pelham Bay. Wondered if there was exciting food among Staten Island’s rolling hills? There isin fact, my No. 1 choice is located there.
Don’t expect elegant dining rooms or fine china. Most are mom-and-pop places where low overhead makes feasible preparation of food in small batches,with obsessive attention to ingredients. Your fellow diners are likely to be recent immigrants, and I guarantee they’ll be as interested in you as you are in them. Best of all, Asian food is made for sharingso bring a group and pass it around.
View the top 100 best and cheapest Asian restaurants.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 14, 2002