BEST CHEAP EATS (1999)
If you can't eat yourself into a stupor here for chump change, you need to move on down to Texas to be near those heart-stopper steak houses that serve up 56-ounce cuts of beef free to anyone who can actually finish them. Take a couple of friends and start with an order of mandu ($1.99)--a scallion-studded vegetable pancake that arrives with hot sauce--or of kim bop ($2.50), a sushi-style roll of pickled vegetables for dipping into a red sauce that's more piquant than spicy. Heck, this place is such a bargain you could order both. Except that the entrées are guaranteed to leave you waddling. Consider, for instance, the bi bim bop ($5.99): Served in a tureen-sized bowl, it consists of a layer of sticky rice and five or six moundlets of steamed and spiced vegetables and meat, all topped with a fried egg and accompanied by an assortment of pickles and condiments, a steaming bowl of egg-drop soup, and tea. Of course, as with any real bargain, there are trade-offs. Hours can be unpredictable (they're at least always open weekdays for lunch and early dinners) and there's no listing in the phone book--so hold on to this newspaper.