Judging the Top 50
This year, we kicked the competition to be named one of Auckland’s best cheap eats up to the next level, by reducing the number of restaurants on the list to just 50. It resulted in some fierce debates among the judges, with our panel considering the merits of more than 200 restaurants to find the very best.
As a result, some old favourites have dropped off — most notably Balmoral’s New Flavour and longstanding South Indian restaurant Satya (17 Great
North Rd). While they were more than adequate for a Top 100 list, when we asked ourselves, “Would we cross town to eat there?”, they simply didn’t make the cut for the Top 50.
Among the notable trends this year is hyper-regionality, especially among Malaysian and Chinese cuisines, with both Chongqing Noodles’ Sichuanderived spice and Takapuna’s Mamak taking out spots in the coveted Top 10. Note to citysiders: the latter’s Kuchingstyle laksas are well worth crossing the bridge for.
Try It Out, in Otahuhu, is back on the list and fighting fit but again this year, we found good Vietnamese food hard to come by. Where are the fresh herbs?
To be considered for this list, an outlet had to be open for dinner and offer a reasonable range of options so that, when the bill was split, it came in at $20 per person (or less), excluding drinks.
The judging process began with a long list of all the places we knew might have a chance at making the cut, or were new and needed to be reviewed. We then debated the merits of these places at length at a judges’ meeting, whittling down the list by almost half. Next, we went out and ate. As always, we visited anonymously and paid for our meals. A final meeting consolidated the list, and the crucial Top 10. The judges (see opposite) all write regularly about food in Auckland.