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Chocolate Dosas, Smoked Brisket Pho, and Other Wild Budget-Wise Delights in NYC

Here is Sietsema’s 35th triumvirate of cheap eats in the city

Johnny Huynh was raised by his grandmother in Bushwick, and her recipes and those of her descendants provide inspiration for the food at Lucy’s Vietnamese Kitchen, named in her honor. The premises were once a Chinese carryout, which now features a cramped communal table that is often crowded with enthusiastic diners, some of whom come from the neighborhood, while others have traveled from far and wide to sample Bushwick-style Vietnamese fare.

Brisket pho at Lucy's
Lucy's exterior

Brisket pho and exterior at Lucy's.

That menu includes three types of pho, all based on a single painstaking vegetarian broth. In addition to noodles, sprouts, basil, and onions, diners can add tofu, chicken, or a 14-hour smoked brisket. The brisket, in particular, is unique and adds an extra pleasurable dimension to the iconic Hanoi-invented soup. The other half of the menu is devoted to three banh mi sandwiches, one featuring the same brisket. This place hops till midnight seven days a week, don’t miss it! 262 Irving Ave, Brooklyn, 718-483-9837

Beyti Kebab exterior.
Pondicherry dosa at Hillside Dosa Hutt.
Dosa Hutt.

Above: Beyti Kebab exterior. Below: Pondicherry dosa and Dosa Hutt exterior.

Strictly vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the five boroughs are becoming easier to find, even in the remotest corners. Spawned by a Flushing restaurant of nearly the same name, HIllside Dosa Hutt is a vegetarian (and mainly vegan) South Indian restaurant located on the half-mile South Asian shopping strip of Hillside Avenue in Glen Oaks, Queens, on the extreme eastern edge of NYC. This menu is larger than that of the original, and the place is more spacious and comfortable, too. Some friends and I recently sampled the Pondicherry dosa, named after the former French colony on the south coast of India. It contained a wealth of shredded vegetables and displayed some heat. The wrapper was especially crisp. There are 35 other types of dosas offered, including oddball chocolate dessert dosas and upma dosas, filled with spiced cream of wheat. How’s that for breakfast? 258-15 Hillside Ave, Queens, 718-414-4780

For Brooklyn meat lovers, there are no better or cheaper spots than the borough’s Turkish grills, which tend to concentrate in South Brooklyn places like Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Kings Highway, and — especially important this time of year when the ocean beckons — Brighton Beach. There on the main drag find Beyti Kebab, open seven days until midnight. Go no further than the twin doner cylinders in the window, twirling chicken or lamb. The guy will cut a great quantity of the moist herbed meat, and deposit it in a sandwich or on a platter along with salad and well-oiled pilaf. The menu also offers a choice of a dozen other kebabs, and a vast collection of vegetarian bread dips involving beans, eggplant, and yogurt. 414 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, 718-332-7900

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Brisket pho and exterior at Lucy's.
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