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World's Best Meal Deals | New York City; Sydney; Moscow; Tokyo; London

Star chefs and restaurateurs name the best cheap meals in five of the world's most expensive cities.

New York City

Marcus Samuelsson Chef and co-owner of Aquavit and Riingo

Hampton Chutney Co. "The food is filling without being greasy. I don't feel bad after I eat here, which is rare with fast food. I love their basic, traditional dosas [Indian crêpes made with rice and lentil flours] filled with a spicy potato mixture. They remind me of Ethiopian food. You can eat with your hands and use bread as a plate." DETAILS From $7; 68 Prince St.; 212-226-9996.

Awash "The restaurant is definitely Ethiopian, which means it's slow. It takes 20 minutes for a waiter to show up at your table. But the food is so damn good. If I want to have a true Ethiopian meal, this is where I go. I love kitfo, the traditional beef tartare [seasoned with mitmita, a hot Ethiopian pepper], but that's not for everyone. The doro wat [chicken with boiled egg and berbere, a red-pepper blend] is more of a crowd pleaser." DETAILS From $10; 947 Amsterdam Ave.; 212-961-1416.

Hallo Berlin cart "There's always a line, with everyone from models to finance guys to German tourists. Anytime you can get all these people eating the same food, you're doing something right. I like the wurst on a plate with red cabbage and sautéed potatoes and onions. This reminds me of the hot dog carts in Sweden that start selling at 2 a.m. DETAILS From $4; corner of Fifth Ave. and 54th St.; no phone.

Shake Shack "Chefs love fast food, because our cooking is so complex. The burgers here are made from the best meat, and the buns are perfect." DETAILS From $3; open April to November; in Madison Square Park, at Madison Ave. and 23rd St.; 212-889-6600.

Sydney

Kylie Kwong Chef and owner of Billy Kwong

BBQ King "When I was very young, my mother swore this place sold the best Chinese barbecued roast pork and duck, and it still does! I remember standing in the street with her, looking through the grease-splattered glass at all the caramelized and glazed deep-red ducks, chickens and pork strips. Mum would always tell me to order the barbecued pork with the most fat and with the burnt, crunchy bits on the end—and never chopped up. Some of the finest restaurants in Hong Kong have barbecued pork just as sublime as BBQ King's, but somehow it feels more natural here. I love its casual, informal, quirky, often chaotic side." DETAILS From $9; 18-20 Goulburn St.; 011-61-2-9267-2433.

Arthur's "The first thing I was attracted to was the upside-down sign in front. It was so wacky I was sure the place would be vibrant. I wasn't disappointed. The whole pizzeria smells of garlic, and there's always Latino music blaring. The owners remind me of Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful. They sell the most authentic, delicious pizza; my favorite is their Mamma pizza, topped with olives, anchovies, capers and sun-dried tomatoes." DETAILS From $9; 260 Oxford St., Paddington; 011-61-2-9331-1779.

Il Baretto "I love the ease of this restaurant, and how small it is. It feels like home. The food is simple Italian, and the staff is incredibly welcoming and generous. When you're here, you don't have to be anyone except yourself. I come here for the comforting bowls of spaghetti Bolognese, or something lighter, like a carpaccio of salmon or snapper." DETAILS From $9; 496 Bourke St., Surry Hills; 011-61-2-9361-6163.

Moscow

Arkady Novikov Owner of more than 100 Moscow restaurants

Kroshka-Kartoshka "Most food in street kiosks is terrible, but the baked-potato chain Kroshka-Kartoshka isn't bad. The kiosks are clean; the potatoes are hot and tasty." DETAILS From $1; throughout Moscow, including the Atrium, 33 Ul. Zemlyanoi Val; 011-7-095-514-1935.

Pyat Zvyozd "Last October, some partners and I launched a chain of sandwich shops aimed at providing a quick, affordable, healthy lunch—something that's nearly nonexistent here. We import high-quality bread from France and England for sandwiches, like our chicken and tomato with pine nuts. Our sandwiches are not 'elite,' but they are good. The name, which means 'five stars,' comes from the grading system in Russian schools: 1 through 5. I always dreamed of getting straight 5s, but I never managed." DETAILS From $1; 165 Ul. Lyublinskaya; 011-7-095-981-4562.

McDonald's "It's very important psychologically that McDonald's was the first big Western restaurant to come here after perestroika. All those stories about the long lines and the people ordering every dessert on the menu are true. The food is, believe it or not, very good for a low price. It's the ideal restaurant company. They know exactly what they want: where to open, how to promote, how to make the client happy. This is the kind of knowledge we don't have yet as a country with young capitalism." DETAILS From 50 cents; locations throughout Moscow.

Yolki-Palki "When I opened Yolki-Palki in 1996, it was the first local food chain. It was also the first mid-priced place with Russian dishes. My favorites are the vegetable salads and marinated grilled meats, a tradition from the Caucasus and Central Asia that's the centerpiece of a Russian dinner." DETAILS From $14; 27 locations throughout Moscow, including 23 Ul. B. Dmitrovskaya; 011-7-095-200-0965.

Correa's "This is a very comfortable [New American] restaurant, without snobbery or obtrusive design. It has a food shop that sells salami, artichokes, olives, pasta and sun-dried tomatoes imported from Italy." DETAILS From $12; 40 Ul. B. Ordynka; 011-7-095-725-6035.

Tokyo

Nobu Matsuhisa Chef and owner of Nobu in nine cities

Kaotan "After I close my restaurant at night, I take a couple of staff people here and order gyoza dumplings stuffed with pork or vegetables, or the ramen with beef, spinach and vegetables. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes, and you can eat for $10 per person." DETAILS From $5; 2-34-30 Minami-Aoyama; 011-81-3-3475-6337.

Yabu Soba "This is an inexpensive, traditional noodle place specializing in soba. You can sit at the counter, or on chairs or tatami seats at a table. I like to sit on a chair at a table, but it's so busy that when a waitress says 'Come this way,' I have to follow and sit wherever there's space." DETAILS From $6; 2-10 Awajicho Chiyoda-ku; 011-81-3-3251-0287.

Maisen "Every time I return to Tokyo, I go to Maisen—there's one near my restaurant—and order the tonkatsu, a cutlet of kurobuta (black pig) that is coated with egg and bread crumbs and then deep-fried." DETAILS From $13; 4-8-5 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku; 011-81-3-3470-0071.

Tsukiji Fish Market "I like to have breakfast here at one of the sushi counters, where you can eat for about $20. My favorite thing to eat is the unagi (freshwater eel). There's also a stand at the market that serves a great tempura bowl, which is steamed rice with tempura on top and miso and a pickled vegetable on the side. That's a typical Japanese lunch." DETAILS Prices vary; 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku; no phone.

Wakiya "This Chinese restaurant is excellent. At lunch, egg noodles topped with chicken, shrimp or vegetables cost about $15. The texture of the noodles is perfect; the toppings are always fresh." DETAILS Lunch from $13; 6-11-10 Akasaka, Minato-Ku; 011-81-3-5574-8861.

London

Fergus Henderson Chef and co-owner of St. John

The Anchor and Hope "As pubs go, this is the closest to the G. K. Chesterton quote about a place to get a good meal of beans, bacon and a bottle of Burgundy. Bookings are not accepted here, so you do rather have to take your chances; lunch is usually a little calmer. The Lancashire hot pot is enough for two and will set you up for the rest of the afternoon. It is made from the neck and kidney of lamb and slowly cooked with layers of sliced potato on top." DETAILS From $19; 36 The Cut; 011-44-207-928-9898.

The New Diamond "The spareribs are a joy. They're chewy nuggets of rib with chile, garlic and salt—all good things magically cooked in a paper bag, the sort of thing you wake up thinking about." DETAILS From $9; 23 Lisle St.; 011-44-207-437-2517.

The Jade Garden "Dumplings for lunch—habit-forming! My favorites are the char siu [barbecued pork] dumplings, the prawn and chive, the turnip paste with dried meats and—only on Sunday—the suckling-pig skin." DETAILS From $4; 15 Wardour St.; 011-44-207-437-5065.

Angel Mangal "This Turkish restaurant is grand for a cheap supper of kidneys, sweetbreads or quails cooked over bucket barbecues, or Turkish pizza." DETAILS From $13; 139 Upper St.; 011-44-207-359-7777.

Chez Marcelle "Marcelle's Lebanese food communicates a sense of well-being, and Marcelle herself is very motherly. There is a menu, but usually a few delicious mystery treats emerge from the kitchen—like the chicken wings with toum [a garlicky aioli]." DETAILS From $14; 34 Blythe Rd.; 011-44-207-603-3241.

Published April 2005
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