A big steaming pot of freshly-made noodles with mushrooms and cabbage; add some cayenne pepper flakes and a soy-type sauce and you've got a delicious, satisfying dinner. That whole pot would cost me 8 yuan, about $1.14. Plus a few yuan for a cold water. YUM.
Our group ate regularly with various groups of our Chinese friends, including the boys' sports buddies and a girl who was studying abroad from California (so she sounded completely American). Food is always ordered for many, you order lots of dishes, and then it's served on the spinning lazy Susan in the center of the table, so everyone has access. It's a good way to try a lot of dishes and it's also so affordable to split. This restaurant was down a back alley, and filled with Christmas/Santa Claus memorabilia, but it was extra delicious-- and also very close to the store we liked that sold ice cold soy milk.