Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >
Dec 7, 2008 07:27 PM

Poor college students need cheap eats in Central London!

Hello, we're a group of very poor (albeit slightly more favorable exchange rate, but still not helpful) group of college kids that will be living at the Nido complex at King's Cross from Jan-Feb. We're looking for good food, any cuisine really, that has good portions so that we can maximize it into more than 1 serving (we're pretty light eaters to begin with).

Maybe something in the range of £10-15 for dinner? We'll be maxing out our Oyster cards, so don't mind a hop on the tube if it'll take us somewhere especially grand and cheap. No preference in cuisine either, we're pretty eclectic eaters from New York, and are especially excited to try London's famed Indian, Bengali, and even fish and chips. But where are they?? And we're partial to hand foods, as much as sit-down full meals, so all's fair game! Thank you greatly.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well one classic cheap eats place is the Indian YMCA on Fitzroy Square (not that far from King's Cross).

    Haven't been for years but do remember that it's basically a canteen, wholesome rather than delicious.

    1. All you can eat: Indian Veg, Chapel Market. Within walking distance of Nido. It's something ridiculous like £3.50 a head. You won't need to maximise it into another portion as you won't be able to move for 24 hours.....

      1. With regard to fish & chips (and an awful lot more), the best resource I know is this blog:

        If it serves F&C, then these guys have eaten there.

        1. Right, getting in to this now. London's great gift to the world, pie 'n' mash (and if you must, jellied eels). Ferran Adria recently ate at my local example

          but I'm sure there are options closer to King's Cross.

          Edit: Of course, Exmouth Market.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Gav

            Chinatown (nearest tube Leicester Square) is cheap, in particular Wong Kei, on Wardour Street. It's famed for rude service but I think it's more brusque than rude. Go for the noodle soups or the bbq meat on rice, towards the back of the menu; and you get free tea, all for roughly £5.

            Round the corner on Newport Place, Jen Cafe does great dumplings and Baozi Inn does good Beijing Street food, all very cheap. Two of us ate at Baozi with starters, beer etc for £30.

            There are a few Indian / Pakistanni restaurants in Whitechapel which are incredibly cheap - Mirch Masala and New Tayyabs spring to mind. I've eaten like a pig in both establishments for under £15.

            Similarly, I hear the Vietnamese places on Kingsland Road (nearest tube Old Street) are good, but I don't have a specific one to recommend.

            1. re: hollow_legs

              Some of the Vietnamese on Kingsland Road are BYOB - that cuts costs down. I like Tay Do, on the west side of Kingsland Road. Also walkable from Nido is Drummond Street (Euston) - south Indian at Diwana is very cheap and also BYOB. Service will be rude however (it's never not been and I've probably been there 25 times). Diwana's paper dosa and their tarka dhal are really really good. Also cheap French on a student budget is Le Mercury, Upper Street, islington - this is walkable from Nido. You should register with Top Table to get 50% food off offers at many many London restaurants.

          2. The Indian YMCA is a good bet, but you can get some truly massive meals for very low prices if you go elsewhere. Thattakuda in East Ham (check my recent posts) should definitely be visited. Also, Italia Uno offers a decently cheap lunch, but the portions (sandwiches generally) can't be split into multiple meals. For Bangladeshi, go to Gram Bangla on Brick Lane. ALSO! You can basically live off Beigel Bake and its bagel producing neighbor for next no money. I lived off that for two weeks at one point when I was basically squatting in an unoccupied student hall. Good times. I'll think of more later.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JFores

              Oh yeah, I'm a life long Brooklynite who is studying at UCL now, btw. If you're coming from New York, make sure to remember that Chinese food here is NOT CHEAP and running into a random Chinese place will break your budget rather than save it (generally.) You really should make the effort to get out to Thattukada. A tube from your doorstep will take under 30 minutes to get there, it's like 50 seconds from the tube, and it's amazing. Also, it's so cheap (and the portions so huge) that you could live off of that place alone for your whole stay; there's that much there between the written menu and even large unwritten one. Take note of Vasanta Bhavan veeery close to Thattukada. It's veg and the portions are massive. Thattukada is Keralan (check my large post on it. I think I originally misspelled it Thattakuda so Chowhound search both to make sure it comes up.) Vasanta Bhavan is Tamil. Gram Bangla (mentioned above) serves up veeery good (and veeery home style) Sylheti food. The fish (especially dried fish) is the way to go there.

              1. re: JFores

                You definitely can find cheap Chinese/Szechuan food in London - try Gourmet San on Bethnal Green Road - a bit closer than trekking out to East Ham. You can eat really well there for under £10 a head. Not necessarily close to Kings Cross, but still worth a visit is Anatolia on Mare St (behind London Fields) - great Turkish for next to nothing- its impossible to walk past without being enticed by the great BBQ smells coming from inside. If you are around that area there are also a large number of cheap Chinese and Viet Namese (BYOB) places to choose from (and Asian supermarkets to pick ingredients up for next to nothing).
                Also try some greasy spoon cafes - there's loads of them around Kings Cross.While not necessarily good for the arteries, they are a godsend for hangovers and wallets.

                1. re: pj26

                  what about cha cha moon off carnaby street? pretty much everything on the menu is £3.50 and deee-lish. Food is Malaysian/Chinese/Singaporean, atmosphere is cool...
                  Also Imli on Wardour Street and Masala Zone both do great Indian at v reasonable prices, and v fresh too. These two often have special offers on (2 for 1 at Imli at the moment) If you're hanging in Soho, I'd recommend these three!
                  And If you're interested in street food, check out Whitecross Street, not far from Kings Cross. On Thurs & Fri they have a brilliant food market with stalls selling prepared food from every corner of the world served from decorated vintage vans! Cheap and there are some cool shops & galleries on Whitecross Street so you can window shop while you stuff your face.