Buffet at Gastronom Arkadia
It’s all but impossible to name everything on display, so grab a plastic tub and get to work, starting with the blintz-and-pancake area in front (look out for the triangular fried meat- and dill-stuffed pancakes), and working your way back through the onion-topped kotlety (ground meat croquettes), the baked fish in cream sauce, the pork- and rice-stuffed cabbage and peppers, the wild mushroom and chopped liver spreads, the pickled cabbage and carrot salads, and then back toward the register for a tangy sweet cheese-filled blintz to go. All of this for $5/lb, on scales that tip toward the light side: this writer walked out with two heaving tubs (one hot, one cold) of all of the above for about $8.
1079 Brighton Beach Ave; 718-934-7709
Samsa and Salad Langsai at Café Kashkar
For a quick, cheap snack, you can go a few ways. For a substantial bite, try the samsa ($2.50): flaky, doughy bread stuffed with minced lamb and tender onions (be careful with the hot sauce—that stuff is incendiary).
On the lighter front, try the refreshing salad langsai ($6), a vinegar-soaked mix of bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, onions, vermicelli noodles, an Asian green the waiter called suntaisa, and barely perceptible coriander seeds. Or get both and enjoy a light meal with a combination of the best flavors the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has to offer.
1141 Brighton Beach Ave; 718-743-3832
Pelmeni and Vareniki at Varenichnaya
Not pictured but equally delicious are the pelmeni in broth ($6.95), a chicken consommé dotted with fresh dill and a pile of pelmeni that puts chicken noodle soup to shame.
3086 Brighton 2nd Street; 718-332-9797
Sausage at M&I International Foods
If you ask nicely, the severe-looking women will give you samples, and after much debate, this slender pork sausage, labeled kabanos wieprzowy, emerged as a winner: laced with garlic, black pepper and caraway seeds, it’s compulsively snackworthy. At $6 for a vacuum-sealed bag of four 18-inch links, it's a total steal.
249 Brighton Beach Ave; 718-615-1011
Bulochki S Makom at Bakery La Brioche
1073 Brighton Beach Avenue; 718-934-0731