When it comes to cheap 'n' cheerful, nothing beats Asian food. Here's where the wallet-wise chow down. Since the 70s, OCAD and U of T students have been flocking to Yung Sing Pastry (22 Baldwin, at McCaul, 416-979-2832) for savoury Chinese buns stuffed with the likes of curried beef and barbecued pork, most priced at no more than a dollar each. As the name suggests, Chinese Traditional Buns (536 Dundas West, at Kensington, 416-299-9011) dishes up a similar lineup of steamed rolls and dumplings as well as several fiery Beijing-style items like jellied bean curd ($1.49) and cold rice noodles doused with sesame paste, scallions and garlic chili sauce.
Seven bucks gets you a pound of barbecued pork in sweet five-spice jus at Hong Fatt (443 Dundas West, at Huron, 416-977-3945), enough for a week of home-cooked stir-fries. Everything listed on the short card of Cantonese mains - crisply fried noodles mixed with crunchy veg - taped to the side of the truck that houses Ken Ho's Snack Service (St. George, north of College, no phone) on U of T's main drag is priced at an affordable $3.99, taxes included!
It's hard to believe that Rose Café (324 Broadview, at Gerrard East, 416-406-9906) can sell its super Saigon subs - flaky French rolls stuffed with lemongrass chicken or tofu heaped with pickled carrot, daikon, English cuke and minced Thai chilies - for a buck fifty and still turn a profit.
Despite doubling in size since its recent renovation, Chinatown's Pho Hung (350 Spadina, at St. Andrew, 416-593-4274; other location, 200 Bloor West, at Avenue Road, 416-963-5080) continues to cause queues for its beefy Vietnamese meal-in-one-bowl pho ($3 to $8.50). Rye High fave Salad King (335 Yonge, at Gould, 416-971-7041) has also increased in size and been given a sleek new look. One of downtown's better versions of pad thai will only set you back $7.75, and fear not, pyro fans: it's famed chili chart - and rock-bottom prices - remain intact.
Ignore the signs on the wall advertising the likes of chicken kebabs at King Palace (105 Sherbourne, at Richmond East, 416-306-8188) and stick to the steam table, where incendiary Pakistani specialties - curried lamb in Punjabi gravy, red kidney bean and chickpea chana - are priced at $5 and $6 per container.
Though it's inspired a slew of copycats, Sushi on Bloor (515 Bloor West, at Brunswick, 416-516-3456) stands above its competition, especially when it comes to the vegetarian bento box that goes for $7 on the elegant white-on-white second floor.
Open around the clock and named for the mythical owl of Minerva (which explains the mortar board on the bird out front), the Owl (700 Bloor West, at Clinton, 416-538-3030) is Koreatown's most popular spot for pork bone soup ($7), the spicy Asian goulash that's not only a hangover cure but is also said to help prevent freckles, acne and snoring. Can foie gras make such claims?