Foodie Contest: Share Your Best Value Eating Experience and Win A $150 Gift Certificate

We’ve spilled lots of electronic ink about our eating experiences around the world. Now we’d like to get your stories.

Describe your best value meal experience – from street food to haute cuisine – and win a $150 gift certificate for

Khinkali - Tbilisi, Georgia
A Georgian feast of khinkale.

Best value meal.” So what does that mean?

We are looking for descriptions of the best quality meal for the lowest price. Maybe you ate it while traveling, maybe you ate it in your hometown. We don’t want the cheapest meal that didn’t taste like much, nor do we want a description of a 3-star Michelin restaurant meal whose cost could have funded our travels for a month.

We would like you to describe a meal whose big taste surprised you and small bill pleased you. Tell us what made this meal memorable and unique. How was it served? What did it taste like?

Have fun. Thank you for participating and please pass word of this to your foodie friends and family.

Contest Rules

  1. PRIZES: Grand Prize is a $150 gift certificate (for one or multiple items of your choosing) on Additionally, we will choose our favorite entries to highlight in a future article on Uncornered Market (think name recognition and link love for those of you with websites).
  2. WINNER SELECTION: The grand prize winner will be selected randomly via
  3. HOW TO ENTER: In the comments section of this post, list:
    a) a description of the best value meal you’ve ever eaten,
    b) the approximate cost of the meal in $USD, and
    c) details (name, city, address, etc.) of the restaurant or street food stand where you enjoyed the meal.

    Comments posted on the Uncornered Market Facebook page or sent to us by email will not be considered in the prize drawing.

    There is no upper price limit on the meal you describe. We recognize that the cost of food differs around the world, but originally had something in the $5 range in mind. However, anything goes. Remember, the emphasis is on value: highest quality meal for the least amount of money.
  4. SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Deadline for prize consideration: July 6, 2009 12:00 PM, EDT. Comments will remain open on the post after the contest has concluded.
  5. WHO CAN PARTICIPATE: Anyone. We encourage people from around the world to participate. However, only ships within the United States and Canada.

A word about our partner,

Our contest partner,, offers a wide selection of suitcases, carry-ons, briefcases, laptop cases, duffel bags, and much more. The brands they carry include Timbuk2, Delsey, Samsonite, Heys, Rimowa, High Sierra, Buxton, and Travelpro, among others. You should have no problem finding something you like for work or play.

Enjoy this?

Then sign up for more travel wisdom & inspiration from 8+ years of traveling the world.


  1. says

    Great minds think alike! We just posted on our blog about one of our favorite budget meals ever. It’s not $5, but it’s spectacular.

    In the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona we were absolutely blown away by Can Paixano. We had a bottle of sparkling Rosado for $3 and delicious sandwiches with foie gras for another $3.25. Overall, our feast of several varied sandwiches and sparkling wine came to $20 for two. There’s photos and all our detailed excitement here.

    So it’s not dirt cheap, but for value, we’ve never had anything like it.

    Can Paixano is located on:
    Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7
    08003 Barcelona – Spain

    Can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s picks — great subject!

  2. Nguyen says

    So many amazing meals in third world countries to be had for under $1 or $2, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    In terms of the best values I’ve had in the US, one of my most memorable amazing meals was Arthur Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri. For under $10, I got the meat combo with fries. I went with the combo because I was in the middle of a cross-country drive from DC to SF, so it was a one shot deal to eat there. I’m a big fan of BBQ, so I researched top BBQ places around the US before my drive. As luck would have it, Arthur Bryant’s was directly on my route, so it didn’t even require a detour.

    The sandwich was big enough for two. It was a double decker sandwich, pulled pork on one level, beef brisket on the second level. The sandwich was made out of 6 pieces of bread. They rolled it up with the fries in butcher’s wax paper. When it was done, the package was bigger than a football. It was my first time having Kansas City style BBQ. Arthur Bryant’s lived up to its hype. I’m a big fan of BBQ in general, so I still love a good Memphis style rack of ribs, or Georgia’s mustard based BBQ sauce, but KC has rightly earned it’s title as the BBQ capital of the world with Arthur Bryant’s leading the way.

    1727 Brooklyn Avenue, K.C., MO, 816-231-1123

  3. Janet says

    Friends took me out to this great restaurant in Chowpatty (Mumbai India) called Soam. The food they serve is considered comfort food. It must have made me pretty comfortable – I think I went back twice more before I left Mumbai. Each time I ordered a variation on the same meal – Kadhi & Khichdi. The Khichdi is a mixture of spinach, dal and cracked wheat served together in a bowl – or at least the first one I tried. The Kadhi is the best part. It’s a warm spicy slightly sweet (or was it sour?) yogurt soup that you pour right into the bowl of khichdi. You get all the flavors in your mouth at once – sour, sweet, salty. seriously delicious. To make it even better is the price. It was a nice sit-down restaurant but I think the bill couldn’t have been more than $5 including the ice cream for dessert.

    near Babulnath Temple, Chowpatty,
    Mumbai, India
    +91 22 23698080

  4. says

    best value eating meal? the one we had last saturday, no doubt. we live in mid-michigan, and there is a large amish community here. every so often, they have a fish fry benefit, for someone with hospital bills (no insurance). everyone around knows, and the fish start frying at 3pm. if you wait to eat, they will be out! it was held at mary’s bakery (she sells super delicious baked goods on thursdays and fridays, themselves a steal deal), and she and her family have a very large yard with many barns.

    you park alongside the road, because the yard is too full. there’s a big white house, with a smaller house in front (feel free to buy extra homemade baked goods in there). the area in front of the house is PACKED with a plethora of picnic tables – the long kind, with moveable benches that can each sit 10. there’s a canopy overhead, and this covers 85% of the tables. everyone tries to sit under the shade, since it is hot out. as well, scoot the little styrofoam bowls of tartar sauce, margarine, and peanut butter/marshmallow cream mix out of the heat. you might have to wait to get a seat.

    in the middle, one of the picnic tables serves as the food buffet. wait in line. there’s a constant stream of young amish women bringing in trays of hot fresh fried fish from the back yard (by the barn – fish fry manned by the young men). next are enormous aluminum bowls – the kind in industrial kitchens. one is full of french fries. the next one, a super yummy creamy coleslaw (celery adds more crunch). next, macaroni salad, mounded up with two large spoons on each side and dotted with chunks of fresh farm hardboiled eggs. the next bowl, homemade rolls, bigger than your fist. don’t worry about taking 2, there are several bags of rolls on each table. then…drumroll please…

    the desserts. pumpkin pie. shoofly pie. raspberry pie. strawberry pie. lemon meringue pie. coconut cream pie. ALL WITH HOMEMADE crusts. then cakes, brownies, gingerbread.

    the beverages at the end of the table (coffee, water, red koolaid) almost seem plebian after the glory that came before it. did i mention all you can eat?

    and at the end of the table? a donation box. most people give between $5-10 for this feast. wait – it gets better…

    chat with your neighbors (amish or not). pass the ketchup. help the little amish boy next to you cut up his fish. enjoy the sounds of the hard wooden wheels on the haywagon, as people head off for a post-dinner ride down the road and back. wave to friends. meet new people. kvetch with the older amish women, sitting outside of the kitchen, fanning their faces from the great heat in the kitchen.

    and when you leave? look right – at the next amish farm, neighboring mary’s bakery, you’ll see about 30 amish buggies, a parking lot of sorts, for all of the friends that came to help out. you ride home full, thanksgiving-full, with happy memories, continued friendships, and a great sense of community.

    mary’s bakery
    off of kendaville road (turn north at the big mary’s bakery sign)
    lakeview, MI

    fish fries every 4-7 weeks or so, on a saturday

  5. says

    Fergburger – Queenstown, NZ

    It’s a hole in the wall that’s really a slice of heaven serving the best burger in the world. When you arrive in Queenstown immediately go to Fergburger…bungee off the Nevis…then go to Fergburger…hike the Milford Track…then go for a Fergburger…river raft….and then go for a Fergburger…go out for drinks…then go get a Fergburger (they’re always open)…just before you leave Queenstown…head out and get your final Fergburger..

    When you finally leave Queenstown your only regret….you’ll wish you went to Fergburger more.

  6. Guy Kohane says

    Hi Dan & Aud,

    I think that one of the best meals I had was in Mahhane-Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel.

    There’s a very small restaurant in one of the alleys which is call “eating in the market” (ochlim ba-shoock), where they cook Persian cuisines, over kerosene burners, slow cooking.

    I ate a dish of rice with dried fruits (plums & resins I think) with chicken.
    The dish was quite large and couldn’t finish it myself….
    The taste was sweet (remind me of honey), the rice was so rich in flavor from all the spices within, golden color.
    All the ingredients are extremely fresh cause they’re sitting in the middle of the market, and make the food out of its merchandise.

    The restaurant itself is very small, and has only 3 or 4 tables, you can see all the pots sitting on the burners, and have a nice small talk with the lady who made the food.

    The price was 45 NIS (about 11 USD nowadays). this was the price for all meat dishes over there. everyday the menu is different- depend on the merchandise and the mood of the cook… 😉

    All in all, its nice to walk through the market in the late morning and finish with a great delicious meal!

    some pictures of the restaurant available here(that purple soup is beetroot soup with Kub’e [=oval meat-filled grain patties]):


  7. says

    Rodizio is a popular style of eating in Brazil. I think it originated with the traditional churrascaria (BBQ) where the meat comes to your table. However, it has expanded to pizza, sushi and my favorite budget meal since living here – pasta rodizio.

    We drove past Villa Gourmet, along the roundabout near our apartment in Maringá, for over a year before getting curious as to what this place was all about. Finally a local friend shared the good news. Not only did I learn it is a pasta rodizio restaurant, but the chef is quite experienced in gourmet cuisine having worked for a major airline in Brazil and associated hotels.

    The meal was overwhelming with a variety that can be found no place else in this city. Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, lasagna with cinnamon infused meat sauce, cheese-filled pasta in a balsamic vinegar reduction, ratatouille, a miniature coconut flan set in a savory mint sauce and fettuccini tossed with butter, cinnamon and pears. To top it off the dessert was one of the most original I have ever enjoyed – gnocchi in a warm chocolate sauce spiced with hot pepper.

    Each dish was offered and we could accept or refuse. When accepted small portions were handed out which allowed us to try as many dishes as possible, and that we did. We were stuffed.

    We flagged down the bill and couldn’t believe that this gourmet rodizio feast cost us R$13 per person. That is about 6.57 USD per person at the current exchange rate. I’ve never had such creative and delicious food with a gourmet flair for such an inexpensive prize. Did I mention rodizo is all you can eat?

    While not culturally specific to Brazil this meal had a lot of local flair (there was, of course, rice on the table) and is by far the best value eating experience I’ve had.

    Villa Gourmet Restaurante
    Praça dos Expedicionários, 233
    Maringá – PR, 87015-010, Brasil

  8. Bernie says

    After spending 10 days in a POW/Survival school and eating nothing but would I could find or dig up I paid $2.85 and enjoyed the best meal of life at the base mess hall at Coronado Navy Base in CA. Of course, my shrinking stomach and deprivation biased my experience.

  9. Chris says

    The best value meal I have ever eaten were these amazing galbi kababs sold in Masan, ROK, on the NE side of Shin-Masan, right near Kyungnam Uni. I had been walking past this street food vendor for 1-2 weeks and had managed to delay partaking of what I was afraid would be contaminated food. Afterall, just because it smells good, it might not taste that way, and who knows with street food!? Right?!?! Right??! Wrong.

    After a long day at the local Hagwon, I was walking home, past the vendor again, and decided that I’d be damned if I was cooking, and I was too far from the Lotte mart, so I buckled. I forked over 2,000 won, or about $1.70 USD at the time, and in return for my Korean currency I was handed three wonderful strips of meat-on-a-stick. I ate. I enjoyed. I became a regular customer and have never shied away from street food since. No diarrhea. No dysentery. No discomfort. 😉

  10. Brian Tranter says

    Living in Slovakia, I now realize how good I had it when I lived in Vancouver with access to great sushi, fresh as can be, at what I now have come to realize, rediculously cheap prices. There is a place on Denman street named Tampopo Sushi, where at lunch time you can have all-you-can-eat shushi for about $10 usd. This includes sashimi, maki, nagiri, californa rolls, tempura, potstickers, even fried chicken, whatever.
    There are some rules: You must eat everything, you can’t leave the rice behind, and you must order a reasonable set of food, not only sashimi. Tampopo has a rooftop terrace, which adds to the experience. the great thing about vancouver, is that the fish arrives fresh from the boat every day, and salmon rolls are made with wild salmon, not farmed. I didn’t even realize how much I loved Sushi until I was deprived of it. These days we make do with monthly trips to Vienna to have average sushi for about 30 euros… and sometimes leave hungry :-( I don’t know if Tampop still exists, but there are many, many all-you-can-eat sushi places around the city, and even the regular sushi restaurants offer amazingly cheap bento boxes, and lunchtime sushi deals. Ahhhhhhh Sushiiiii mmmmmmmmmmm.

  11. Karen Witmer says

    Without a doubt, the best cheap, tantalizing eats come from Marco and Luca’s Noodle Shop in Charlottesville, VA. Settled amongst some of the most expensive restaurants in the area, these folks dish up some of the best little pockets of yummy dumplings I have ever had. They also offer noodle bowls, soup and other small assorted taste sensations. Located just off the area known as the downtown mall, you wouldn’t notice this small window of opportunity unless you were told of them or just happened to notice someone drooling over their bowl while sitting al fresco amongst this “no vehicles allowed” street. You are just one little walk up window away from an absolute culinary delight for under $5.oo!

  12. Sarah Kirk says

    Travel in Asia offers plenty of opportunities for cheap, satisfying meals and street food. In the evenings near my college campus in China I could get any number of snacks for under 1RMB (maybe 12 cents), from spicy grilled veggie kebabs to fried stuffed pastry and steamed dumplings. In Thailand, a styrofoam tray of mango sticky rice for a quarter was like a piece of heaven on Chang Mai street corners. In terms of value, substance and experience, however, I’d have to go with pho in Hanoi. I spent a week in northern Vietnam a few years ago, and while the whole time we ate really well (multi-course feasts of pork spring rolls, fresh fish and prawns, the works), we felt a certain lack of authenticity being fed lavish meals on a packaged tour.

    In addition, we were astonished by the lack of what we thought of as Vietnamese food; rice noodles, spiced beef, and of course, pho. Apparently in Vietnam pho is exclusively a breakfast food, and since the Vietnamese are early risers, it’s pretty much impossible to find after 8 or 9 in the morning. We were on a pretty tight schedule and breakfast was included in our hotel in Hanoi (baguette and egg; French colonialism’s remaining impact), so we hadn’t managed to find any pho the whole week.

    Our last day, we decided to strike out on our own and see the city in the early morning hours, when Hanoi residents do tai chi and their daily shopping before work. Around 6 we hit the streets, which were already full of people. Every few blocks we passed a woman sitting on a low stool on a street corner with a large pot boiling with broth and meat propped up on cinderblocks over a flame. We stopped at one and for the equivalent of about 30 cents the woman put some noodles in wire basket and hung it in the boiling pot. Then she filled a bowl with vegetables, some meat and broth from the pot, and the cooked noodles. Each of us took a huge steaming bowl of pho, settled onto one of a dozen or so low stools scattered around the corner, added soy sauce or hot sauce to our liking, grabbed a pair of chopsticks and dug in to a very satisfying last meal in Vietnam.

  13. says

    After 83 years in the barrio, it’s no surprise that the cooks at Spiagge di Napoli (in the Boedo neighborhood of Buenos Aires) know how to knock it out of the park. All of the pastas are made in house, and they’re al dente every time.

    We started things off with a half order of fried calamari – lightly battered and cooked to tender perfection – then graduated to fresh fusilli with tomato-pesto-ham sauce, sorrentinos (ham and cheese stuffed ravioli) with puttanesca, and a half bottle of the house Malbec.

    The Balcarce cake we ordered for dessert – with layers of whipped cream, meringue, dulce de leche, vanilla cake, powdered sugar and caramelized peanuts – wowed us nearly as much as the pasta.

    The ecstasy didn’t end there. Just as we were preparing to waddle away from our three hour lunch (which totaled 85 pesos – about $23US – including wine, water and coffee), our server offered us limoncello on the house.

    If you’re looking to taste the best of old Buenos Aires – and sample a bit of the city’s Italian heritage – you won’t find a finer spot.

    Spiagge di Napoli
    Independencia 3527 – Boedo
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Tel. +54 11 4931-4420
    Closed Sunday at dinner

  14. Chandler says

    I am a huge sushi fan but I never go out to restaurants and order some because it is so darn expensive.
    My birthday came around and my mom decided to take us all out to a sushi restaurant. It was the tiniest place in downtown Redding, CA. I don’t remember the name but all I remember was that it was next to a body shop place and a seafood restaurant. All I was thinking was, this is a nice place to get some food poisoning. It looked small from the outside and it was even tinier once you got in. The whole place was decorated in traditional chinese ways, not the cheap knock-off decorations you see at chinese buffets. This place was truly traditional. The tables were booth styles but instead of having the whole seat cushioned, there was a pillow where you were supposed to sit. All of us looked afraid but my mom forced us to sit down. Now in Northern California in the mountains, sushi is extremely expensive. If it is cheap, it is low quality. The prices looked extremely cheap when I looked at the menu and I was scared to order anything but my mom started naming off stuff she wanted. When the food came, it smelled fresh and delicious. It didn’t look old or preserved so I finally tried a bite. This sushi was the most delicious sushi I have ever eaten in my life. I ordered everything on the menu and so did everyone else.
    In most places where the food is nasty, the bill would have came to $200, not kidding.
    But at this place, the bill came to $50.

  15. fieldgate says

    My best value meals were had in China and Argentina.
    In Argentina, at several restaurants, a starter, an excellent beef, salad, and a bottle of wine for Arg$ 20-25 (7-8 US Doll).

    But, the most memorable one was in China.
    Wuhan, a city of 4.7 mln pop. that I didn’t know it existed unitl I arrived there.
    There was no place where there would be a sign in Latin alphabet, so it had to be anything, a hit and miss.
    I went inside a restaurant and decided I wouldn’t stay. The interior looked like place arranged for a communist party meeting. There was only one table taken. There sat three men in black suits, slurping soups and spitting bones on the table cloth, drinking maotai and talking business in loud voices.
    I sat at a table and ordered a beer, and decided I’d stay anyway, as I had no idea where to look for another place to eat.

    Somehow I managed to order tomato&egg salad, cucumber salad and steamed veggetables. Using a paper tissue and my drawing skills I ordered fish (some sort) for the main.
    When everything arrived at the table, with various sauces and condiments in small bowls, it looked like a dinner for a family of four. The steamed fish was beautifully garnished with vegetables, and it looked on the plate like a piece of art.
    Everything was cooked to perfection.
    I was served by three gracious waitresses, who stood aside, discretely quiet, only coming to my table to fill the glass before it got empty.

    It was without doubt one of the best meals I ever had on my travels.
    Then the bill came – 35 yuan (US$ 5), It was almost humilating having to pay such small amount for that feast.

  16. says

    When I think “value” I think cheap. When I think of “eating experiences” I think of quality. Usually the two do not go side-by-side, and especially not in Europe or the U.S. for delicacies like Giant Prawns (Shrimp in the U.S.) and Sushi (though I have found the value of Sushi is much cheaper and of better quality in the U.S. than its Euro-equivalent. Still like several of the other submissions to this post, I’ve got to go with Asia and a buck.

    In Vietnam for example, in the south of Ho Chi Minh City (it’s formally called Saigon South City Center) at a little restaurant with plastic chairs and tables more suitable for a 12 hear old child, $1 you can get about a kilo (2.2lbs) of unpeeled shrimp. The prawns are spiced accordingly and simmered by your waitress on a clay pot with flaming coals inside. As if that wasn’t value enough, she will even peel the shrimp, in between adding more to the fire.

    I read in one of the earlier posts of a writer discussing how Sushi is too expensive. In many cases this is true – especially if you are a binge eater as I am, and as I know you are Dan. Though we pigged out profusely on sushi during our American adventure in Scranton earlier this year, still nothing can compare to the real Sushi experiences I have had in Osaka and Kobe. In Vilnius, where I have lived for the better part of the new millennium, Sushi is always disappointingly dainty and stupidly priced. They even break the cardinal pricing scheme known to Sushi lovers worldwide – price by two pieces, not one. At any rate, there is no value for money where Sushi is concerned there and in most of Europe. And as good as the prices in the U.S. are, for $1 you can get two enormous pieces of Tuna, Salmon, Unagi.. you name it. And for $2 you can indulge in the fattest fattiest Tuna you’ve ever seen. A lot of people go to the “conveyor belt” sushi places and though still inexpensive, they are rip off compared to the hidden Sushi layers that blanket the city… and they are void of the personalities you’ll find in the hidden spots.$ushi.png

    Sorry I can’t tell your readers specifically where these places are (actually I could but it would take a lot of direction giving) but as you guys tend to illustrate, best to get out there and discover it on your own.

  17. says

    The Argentinian Chicken guy in Bocas del Toro. You can choose from a plain chicken sandwich or a milanesa. Always get the large size with cheese and piquante. It’s about 6 dollars.

    He’s only open at night. He rarely smiles. When we were in Bocas, he was located on the main street outside of Pargo Rojo restaurant. Last I heard, he moved to the place were the batido stand was before the guy left town. He may have moved again, but almost any local will know where to find him.

  18. says

    When I did a study abroad term in Vienna in 1992, it was long before the age of ATMs. I had brought with me exactly as many $100 travelers’ checks as there were weeks in the term, and each of those–turned in for Austrian schillings, naturally–had to last me that full week for all of my food and other basics. In other words, it was Vienna on $14.28 per day.

    Every Monday after my first class, I took the U-Bahn to American Express–then THE place for cashing those travelers’ checks!–collected my schillings, and bought a “hot dog mit kaesekrainer” (cheese-filled sausage stuffed rather obscenely into a hollowed-out bun) for lunch. It cost 20 schillings, or about $1.75, at the stand nearest the AmEx. Coupled with a cold drink (Coke Light, if I was really lucky) and a park bench, it was the cheapest lunch in Vienna.

  19. rosie rosenthal says

    In July of 2006 I traveled with a friend of mine to Cambodia for two weeks and we explored Phnom Penh , Siem Riep and then went southwest to the beaches of Sihanoukville. With the accompaniment of local friends we met, we road our motos to an area of Occheuteal Beach not frequented by tourists but is popular with Khmers. There were pine trees for shade and many small family run “restaurants” to get food and drinks. We reclined in beach chairs and ordered $.50 beers and within minutes there were young children surrounding us to buy their jewelry made out of shells and beads and such. Then we were approached by women offering Prawns, fish, and various meats, rice , noodles and vegetables that they cooked for us on the small barbecues they carried on one end of a pole on their shoulders. We ordered large bowls of food from a few strolling food merchants (for example, $1.50 for more shrimp then two people could eat)and fed not only ourselves but the children who hung out with us while custom making us bracelets and necklaces . I thought that so far I hadn’t gotten any ill effects from the food or drinks we had consumed in Cambodia, but if I was to, this would be the time, as we weren’t sure how fresh the seafood was and they were not stored in any refrigerated container. However , after a very pleasant , relaxing day at the Cambodian beach, with less then $20.00 spent for hours of food and beer for not only ourselves but also food for our young craftsmen and craftswomen friends, I had no ill effects. I also remember the wandering cattle that also shared the beach with everyone and that bathing suits were not in fashion. Khmers just went in with their clothes on.

  20. John Roy says

    a) The best value meal I’ve ever eaten was the Black Bean Sauce noodle plate.
    b) The approximate cost of the meal in $USD was $7.50
    c) This restaurant is called Tai Won Mein, and can be located in Greenwich, London, England, UK.

    As you’re walking down the street towards it, the yellow painted building stands out amongst the burgandy and turquoise buildings surrounding it. The bench seating, which is nearly always near full, invites one to a more communal form of eating. A great student or traveller spot, as the amount of food can easily make 3 meals depending on your appetite! The selection of noodle and rice plates they offer is nothing short of amazing, and I’ve enjoyed most things on the menu personally from my 5 years spent there. Nothing I wouldn’t recomend!

  21. says

    Yang’s Fry Dumplings: How to Eat Shanghai Dumplings Like a Local

    Yang’s two locations can be found on Wujiang Lu, a lively street filled with street vendors and cheap local hole-in-the-wall restaurants. We visited the location at #60, a small, crowded eatery marked by a large yellow sign, the people lined up outside, and the women cooks with red aprons and hospital masks who sizzle the large dumplings with sesame seeds and green onions in large circular pans. Just watching the skillful staff at work – you can actually observe the whole production process – is a treat in itself and will leave you hungry to try some.

    For 3 yuan (or 40 US cents) you not only get 4 generously sized shengjianbao, or pan-seared dumplings, that are renowned through all of Shanghai and are, in our opinion, perhaps some of the best dumplings we have ever tasted; but also a quick culinary adventure complete with inherent challenges and risks.

    Yang’s dumplings are delicious and juicy, soft on top, crispy on the bottom, broth and succulent pork inside – a worthy temptation to yield to. Place your order, pay, and get a ticket, which you then hand to the cook. Grab any available seat and prepare to make friends as you’ll be sitting elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors on a stool at one of the stainless steel tables (it is very common for complete strangers to share tables in China – just smile and say hello).

    Now the tricky part – actually eating the dumplings (don’t say we didn’t warn you), but worth the effort:

    1. Prepare a little dipping plate of vinegar mixed with a little chili.
    2. Grip a massive dumpling firmly with your chopsticks just above crispy part, then take a little bite to create a hole at the top (take care when doing this- you don’t want to splash your neighbor).
    3. Cautiously slurp out the juice (just do it, but beware it is probably scalding hot).
    4. Dip the dumpling in your vinegar mixture with and finish it off without dropping it on the plate (sending said plate flying and splashing all over the table or into your lap or on the floor). If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you may try to dip after each bite of the now exposed juicy pork.

    We would definitely advise against wearing white unless you are an expert, or a few large stains on your dress shirt or blouse don’t particularly bother you.

    Get 8 dumplings (for less than a 1 US dollar) if you are really hungry.

    Yang’s Fry Dumplings
    54 Wujiang Lu and 60 Wujiang Lu – near Nanjing Xi Lu
    Shanghai, China
    (look for the large yellow sign)

  22. says

    Best Italian pizza in all of Italy. Right off of Via Corrade in the heart of Rome sits a small pizza stand. It is run by an old Italian man out of his cart, but don’t be fooled. Just the aroma of his pizza causes salvation. Outside of traditional breakfasts, the gentleman additionally offers single serving size pizzas that are well deserving of the title “Best in Rome”. In a city where everything from water and clothes to transportation and museums are overpriced this amazing $3 pizza is the best bargain in the entire country. As you walk out of Via Corrade, make a left towards the outdoor market. He is stationed directly across from the tram stop. Unfortunately there is no name for his stand, but it shouldn’t be an issue given he will have a line that will wrap around the block.

  23. says

    When it comes to eating out and eating cheap…there is no better place than the taco trucks in Shoreline, Washington! (10 miles north of Seattle). A few years ago taco trucks started popping up in the parking lots and on the side of the road. We had never experienced a taco truck before but we (Steven really) was convinced it was going to be a culinary experience. He was right! I remember walking into my first bus. I felt like we walked into another country. They called our number and we picked up our tasty paper plates full of tiny tacos. The ingredients were fresh and there was no cheesesauce:) There were two large bottles of green and red hot sauce-which are usually made fresh daily. Those little corn tortillas with the pork, chicken or mystery meat with all the special sauces! Who can go wrong! And the price was the cheapest meal we could find-usually under $3.00!

    Living in Budapest there is not much I miss when it comes to food. We can find everything-it may be a little expensive but we can find it…but Mexican-taco trucks! What I would do for three tacos…mmm! And don’t forget the hot red sauce!

    The details:
    Where: Taco Trucks in Shoreline Washington: any taco truck or bus on Aurora Ave. North of 145th Street-I think we tried them all-they were all good.
    Price: Around $3-$6 depending on what you order-I recommend the tacos.

  24. Steve Labovitz says

    For cheap eats, I can narrow it down to two places. Singapore food courts are notoriously cheap, high quality, and clean… but lack charm. Lets face it- they are food courts. But there are plenty of other good choices in Asia.

    First stop is in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Mostly known for it’s Science Park (full of semiconductor and LCD panel manufacturing plants), this town was first famous as the “hometown” mifen, or rice noodles. The strong winds in Hsinchu were used to dry the noodles. There are numerous mifen restaurants dotting Hsinchu, and whenever I was there, I would go out for an evening stroll and grab a bowl when I got hungry. My favorite place (don’t ask the name, I can’t read Mandarin) was on Zhongyang Rd, near Dongda Rd, maybe a bit east of there. A large bowl of mifen with sliced beef and some broccoli greens was about $NT90, and a can of Taiwan beer was another $NT40. Total bill comes out to US$3.95 at current FX.

    Another good place, surprisingly good actually, was a food stall at the Namdaemun (The Great South Gate) Market in Seoul, South Korea. Walking along the Bondong Arcade near the gate, needing a snack to tide me over until a business dinner, I happened across a stall selling some sort of fish and shellfish puree on a stick. The stick was then briefly fried. I found myself thinking “will I finally get food posioning on this one”, but decided to try it when my host insisted it was quite tasty. So I forked over W1000 for a stick (US$0.79 today). WOW- it was good. So good, I shelled out another 79 cents so I could eat another. Fortunately for my dinner guests, the booth was closing at that point- or I might have had dinner right there.

  25. says

    I’m very quickly discovering that New Zealand has some really quality food at much more reasonable prices than I’ve seen in a long time… but since I haven’t been here long enough to speak with complete authority on my new surroundings, I have to go with an old faithful:

    Dark Horse, in Boulder, CO on Thursday’s for Happy Hour.

    To start, ALL drinks are half off. Which is perfect because the chicken wings are .25 cents apiece, and extra spicy. There is a limit to how many wings one can order per person, it might be 10… but worry not! These wings are meaty! I usually only ordered 4 for myself, to be washed down by a double white russian for the bargain price of $2.75. If you’re not in the mood for wings, go for the $3.99 burger and curly fries (of if you’re feeling health conscience, you can order a salad instead of the fries). It’s not a posh place, it’s a bar, and that’s the kind of food they serve. But the meat is good, the wings are hot, the fries are crispy, and the price is right.
    And after you stuff yourself and have downed your third double white russian, there’s karaoke all night!
    Grab the raised booth in the corner near the fireplace… and you’ll see my picture with my girlfriends hanging there – we went to Dark Horse every Thursday for four years, and were never disappointed!
    Dark Horse
    2922 Baseline Rd
    Boulder, CO
    303 442 8162

  26. Amanda says

    The best food I have ever eaten was barbiequed conch salad at a tiny local Barbieque on the island Eleuthera in the Bahamas. It was a local BBQ run every wednesday by a family. It was about 8$ a person. YUM!

  27. Lauren Flato says

    Wow. Seems like the postings definitely lean toward the Asian. I’ll go in the opposite direction to Eastern Europe…The best, easiest and cheapest eats I have found in my travels has to be the sausages on Wenceslas Square in Prague. My favorite was the Prague Sausage, similar to what is known in America as Kielbasa, but more flavorful. The stands are open all the time and the price is right, about 50 Czech crowns. There are many stands throughout the square though the best ones are reputed to be at the bottom corners of the square at the far end from the museum.

  28. Kevin McGettigan & Joan Gotti says

    My wife, Joan and I were leaving everything behind for a year to go on our big mid-life adventure, beginning with a three month volunteer gig in Bangkok. We had been to Thailand once prior, for a glorious, yet tourist-y one week stay. This was entirely different. We had arrived in Bangkok two weeks before our commitment was to begin, with the notion that we’d find our way up to Chiang Mai for the festival of Loy Kratong and to spend a week there before getting acclimated to the bustle of Bangkok. I had read that sleeper cars to Chiang Mai were plentiful. I had not figured that the TravelFish website really wasn’t factoring in the holiday throngs on their way to Thailand’s most romantic festival, best experienced on the banks of the lovely River Ping in Chiang Mai, watching intricately built floats of banana leaves, flowers and candles floating down the waterway. No sleeper cars, nor seats, were to be had on any overnight train. Ahh, the double decker overnight bus! Word to the well-advised: Sometimes, declining a seat in a filthy, delapidated bus can be a good call. As the trip began, we realized we were the only farang on the creaky machine which featured a really loud, snow-covered television, an out-of order, and leaking commode, and a katoy “attendant” in uncomfortable high heels sporting an attitude to match the scene. So far, not so good. Sleeping, my best skill, came in fits and starts for us both, all while trying our level best not to touch anything. Oh, and Thai highways – there weren’t any potholes, there were craters, and lots of ’em. That the axles survived the night was a miracle.
    When we pulled off the highway into a mid-trip rest area at about 2:30 am, we were looking forward to some relief from Mother Nature’s call. The thing about Thai rest stops in the middle of the night, though, is they are lit up to attract every mosquito from Isaan to Koh Samui. We were prepared, though, with the deep woods stuff – seasoned travelers, we! We just neglected to bring the spray with us into the little ‘slippery when wet’ tiled rooms with the holes in the floor. Y’know what wakes you up pretty darned effectively? Break dancing after exposing one’s tender, unsprayed flesh, while valiantly fending off the sqadron of flying vampires, all while trying to pee. Joan and I emerged from our respective corners laughing hysterically – now fully and completely awake, knowing we had just been through the exact same humiliation. Welcome to Thailand!
    It then hit us – that amazing aroma of fragrant, exotic, delicious Thai roadside cuisine – and we quickly realized that all of our bus mates were in line for it. In line we got! There was a stack of huge wooden bowls, piles of spoons and chopsticks, and a stout Thai woman doling out thin noodles (kuaytiaw sen lek) and this magical broth (khauom jin) and then offering other additions to complete the set. There was pork, basil, coriander leaves, mushrooms, long beans, sprouts, pickled cabbage, chiles, dried shrimps, and more. She asked with her eyebrows at each ingedient – we said yes to all! We made our way past condiments and added more dried chiles, palm sugar, fish sauce and spicy vinegar to our bowl. We had only gotten one for the two of us – it was more than enough. At the end of the line, a six year old squeaked, in perfect English, “Ten Baht!”**
    All paid up, we sat and each shared and savored what became our ritual of the “Thai soup facial!” Lowering one’s face close to the surface, breathing in deeply, you feel complete contentment in your bones and in your soul. It is a nearly perfect moment. The flavors combine and transcend. We slurped and smiled, slurped and smiled more broadly. We were in Thailand, in love with each other, in love with the place, in love with our bus mates, in love with the woman and the six year old. We even had a kind word for the surly katoy attendant when we got back on the deathtrap. We were exceedingly happy.

    ** Ten Baht is about 28 US cents.

  29. says

    I was on the road in NYC for business about four years ago after skipping dinner and entertaining clients until late into the evening. In addition to spending too much money already was the pesky notion that I was trying to stick to my low carb diet. This lead me to the grail of the low carb eater…street meat

    On the corner of 49th and 6th I found what became my favorite value meal. The first time I stopped there it was just because of it’s proximity to my hotel. Nothing out of the ordinary, street meat. I liked it though and returned there to find long-long lines, late at night in the heart of winter. Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves this place.

    For about $8.00 you get a huge meal of meats, salad greens, and rice with yogurt and hot sauce. They used to put the sauces on for you but have since set that up for self serve. The hot sauce is quite hot as I learned the hard way after applying a WAY too liberally.

  30. says

    I’m going to have to go with Sarah above. The best value meal I have ever eaten, was a little restaurant with no signage in Hanoi serving Pho and Bia Hoi. Outside there was a big pot of steaming Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup, more or less!) along with it I drank a few glasses of Bia Hoi. Bia Hoi is a ubiquitously available Vietnamese brew that is widely available in small eateries. Call it a microbrew! It’s watery, cold and delicious! Best value for your money, bar none!

  31. says

    We have had some wonderful value meals in India. But, I think the best value meal we ever had was in Los Angeles just because it was so unexpected to find something so delicious for so little money in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
    The restaurant is Sabor a’ Mexico, located at 8940 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Truly this is the best Mexican food I have ever had — better than many places we found in Mexico. The restaurant was unassuming, in a tiny shop area attached to an auto service shop, but they had a long menu, and Patrick was sold the minute he saw the man grilling meat in front of the restaurant. Total cost: $30.00 for a feast. Incredible place, highly recommended. We only wished they served alcohol. What we ate:
    Queso fundido con hongos – Good gooey cheese with mushrooms, though it wasn’t quite as warm and gooey as we would have liked.
    Quesadilla with squash blossoms — My mouth waters remembering this quesadilla. A small homemade tortilla containing squash blossoms with Oaxaca cheese and a few jalapeno and onion bits was lightly fried so that there was no greasiness, but it was crispy and tender at the same time. Perfection.
    Tamale with poblano and cheese
    Black beans – Creamy and tasty.
    Tacos – Let me start with the really surprising part of this taco —- $1 for one taco. Yes, I will repeat that: $1 per taco. And these were not Taco Bell tacos. Patrick got two pork tacos with spit fired pork surrounded by pineapple, and two carne asada tacos. He said that they were all excellent, but wished that he had ordered more of the pork.
    Salsa – The restaurant has a great salsa bar and we tried all of them. Watch out for one fiery habanero salsa.

  32. Bill Robinson says

    It’s taken me forever to whittle this down and only the fear of missing the deadline to enter has me typing furiously now as my kids ransack my house unsupervised. Close second place choices for me were surprising; not exotic at all and of the fast food variety, but to me: Sublime. An In-N-Out Burger (Southern California) is bliss for little money, especially if you are from the East Coast of the USA and don’t get them often. I also had the world’s best hot dog in Vienna for what seemed a reasonable amount of schillings (this was 1997); the guy punctured a baguette on a heated spike, put ketchup and mustard in and then finally loaded the eponymous “wiener”. Heaven to me, although you Prague people are probably as used to hot dogs like this as New Yorkers are to Ray’s pizza..

    But I can’t ignore my travels in Southeast Asia and one meal in particular was the best value for taste, price, and atmosphere. Meals in this part of the world could be had for what we Americans would pay the valet who parked our car in the States. One such meal was in Houay Xai, a Lao border town across the river from Chiang Khong, Thailand. We were driving around Thailand in the Golden Triangle area and with our Lao visas in hand, decided to pop over the border into Laos. It was raining sideways most of that day, but it miraculously stopped during our longtail boat ride across the Mekong and then started up again once we got under a little roof near Lao immigration. A purchase of two umbrellas in this sleepy town awakened the local vendors to our prescence, but instead of hassling and sale pitch, we received smiles. We trotted around, getting wet, but enjoying this little town and its Buddhist hill temple. Before long we needed a Beer Lao (10,000 kip or about $1). We popped into the only open option in town called Sousada Restaurant. The menu was useless to us and we went by pictures and pointing in the kitchen. I ordered green curry (pork) and my wife ordered a peanutty chicken and rice dish with broccoli. It tasted wonderfully spicy on a wet and drab day and had me trying to keep my eyes from crying and my nose from running. I have a receipt for this meal somewhere, but I think it cost aound 50,000 kip or five dollars and that included extra Beer Lao. Plenty of bang for your kip, plus as we were about the only people there in a family open air restaurant (thatch roof), we were taken care of nicely. A strange adventure was using the “bathroom” after about my third Beer Lao. I ended up just outside someone’s house using a hole in the ground.

    Will be in Buenos Aires in five weeks, eating $8 top cuts of steak with fixings. That may be my new top choice soon!

    Cinco Manzanas,

    Bill Robinson

  33. Tushar says

    The greatest place I have ever eaten has to be Lahore Kebah House in London. I ate there about 9 years ago and to this day remember it like it was yesterday. If you go there today they actual have a sign out front and it looks respectable. When I went you did not know it was a place to eat unless you went inside. They had circle tables were everyone sat together. They had a sink on one of the walls to wash your hands (after eating) most did not wash before. Everything was served on paper plates and plastic wear. You could get an entire meal for about $8 and it was enough to feed 3-4 people. As I write this my mouth waters for the meat and veggie dishes. I once went there with a Jewish couple who were visiting me. They enjoyed the meal so much that we actually order every single plate a second time. To say we needed to be wheeled out of the place would be an understatement. Everytime I ate there I would leave with my clothes smelling of the fantastic spices (like second smoke). I always left knowing that I would have to back soon, as soon as my stomach had recovered.

    Lahore Kebah House
    2-4 Umberston Street, London, E1 1PY

  34. says

    And a winner is announced! Check out this post for the randomly selected winner and quotable quotes from your entries above.

    Thanks again to all of you for making this such a fun discussion. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

  35. mahesh says

    hi i would share my experience about meals. i am much interest in food. i am located in INDIA.i like ADAYAR ANATHABAVAN (it is costly one). here the mini meals is 0.5$ and regarding small hotel also like. it is interesting and cheap and best quality also there

  36. tim m says

    Once I was quite hungry in China, so I decided to go to the local dog restaurant. But you know what happened? They ran out!

  37. Wilfred Henfling says

    I’d should verify with you here. Which is not something I often do! I get pleasure from reading a post that will make individuals think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *