International

Finding foreign food in New York isn't hard. Finding the authentic meal is-or was, until now.

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Cheap Eats 2007: Selections from Tiffin Wallah
Selections from Tiffin Wallah

Photo: Evan Sung

Manhattan

The crpe at Cong Ly
If the word crpe makes you think of Paris and moonlight and romance, the starkly lit, fairly grubby confines of Cong Ly will mock you and like it. This ain't a first-date place. But the truly authentic Vietnamese eatery will impress chowhounds. Delectable pork cutlets, wrapped in a thin crpe and placed on a bed of rice vermicelli, with a side of pickled cucumber, lotus root and julienned carrots, cost a mere $8. 124 Hester St at Chrystie St (212-343-1111)

Falafel at Maoz Vegetarian
Fresh homemade falafel is the thing at this joint hailing from Amsterdam, where you can get stellar combos like the Maoz Royal, a well-seasoned, hefty ball of falafel, with fries and a freshly squeezed juice for $9. Then hit the complimentary salad bar, and pile on the unlimited salsas (cilantro, tomato, spicy green chili) and three sauces (yogurt, tahini and garlic). 38 Union Sq East between 16th and 17th Sts (212-260-1988)

The buffet at Tiffin Wallah
If you've exhausted all the Indian joints on Curry Hill, try this newbie. A fresh lunch buffet, offered from 11:30am to 3pm on weekdays, overflows with well-executed South Indian standards like a creamy saag paneer and Gobi masala (cauliflower and peas)—all-you-can-eat for $6. 127 E 28th St at Lexington Ave (212-685-7301)

Cheap Eats 2007: Selections from Tiffin Wallah
The bamboo basket at Grand Sichuan St. Marks

Photo: Evan Sung

Curry at Go!Go! Curry
It's one messed-up Hobson's choice at this Japanese spot, which offers four types of curry: shrimp, chicken, pork and sausage, each heaped over a pillow of white rice. It'll run you $5 to $9.50, depending on the size—choose from "walk" (small) to "triple" (extra large). If those names confuse you, don't even ask about the gorilla mascot. 273 W 38th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-730-5555)

Sam bo fun at Yuen Yuen
Memorize the name sam bo fun, a phenomenal $3.95 dish, before you swing by this non-English-speaking Chinatown diner. Slow-cooked, bone-in chicken, glistening Chinese sausage, and a fried egg are crowded onto white rice. If you frantically wave your hands and say choy, you may get greens with that. 61 Bayard St between Elizabeth and Mott Sts (212-406-2100)

Carnitas at Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery
You won't need Spanish skills to gobble down $2.50 carnitas (pork seasoned with garlic, thyme and oregano and cooked in lard) and garlicky, lime-marinated beef tacos at this tiny, fast-paced Mexican bodega. Just repeat the following—"Quiero una carnita y un taco de carne"—and get out of the way. If you're feeling ritzy, the pricier tongue version—taco de la lengeta—comes in at $2.75. 695 Tenth Ave between 47th and 48th Sts (212-397-5956)

Dumplings at Grand Sichuan St. Marks
The St. Marks outlet of this New York franchise offers a bamboo basket of eight succulent pork soup dumplings for $5.95. A fine, stick-to-your-ribs lunchtime bargain is the Szechuan take on meat and potatoes: chunks of pepper steak and sauted sweet potatoes with fresh ginger and scallions for $5.95. 19--23 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves (212-529-4805)

Half chicken at El Malecon No. 2
Bronzed pollo spins on prominently showcased rotisseries at this beloved Dominican diner, which draws crowds from as far north as Harlem. A fine meal for two: the half chicken, which comes with your choice of side (rice, fries, soupy black beans or fried plantains), for $8.00. Beats that wrinkled fowl you brought home from C-Town. 764 Amsterdam Ave between 97th and 98th Sts (212-864-5648)— Rose Palazzolo

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