Cheap eats

The best meals in Auck­land for $20 or less. Hope you’re hun­gry.

Metro Magazine NZ - - Contents - TEXT — METRO FOOD WRIT­ERS / PHO­TOG­RA­PHY — AARON McLEAN

The best meals in Auck­land for $20 or less.

Avon­dale MALAYSIA NOO­DLES & RICE HOUSE 57D Wolver­ton St

The ser­vice is no-non­sense and the reg­is­ter cash-only, but we will fight for a ta­ble at this small and bustling spot to chow down on their smoky char kway teow, one of the best in Auck­land. Ex­pect flat rice noo­dles with mor­eish pork lard, fried to crunchy, and bursts of salty flavour. Lap cheong (Chi­nese sausage) lends sweeter bites. A true hawker-style haunt — both in food and am­bi­ence — Malaysia Noo­dles also of­fers dishes like wat tan hor, curry laksa and the lesser-known Kuala Lumpur-style hokkien mee, served with sam­bal on the side.

Malaysian ●

Cen­tral city BANNSANG 1c/47 High St

Get in, eat, get out is the vibe at this nonethe­less friendly Korean restau­rant. Good luck get­ting a ta­ble at week­day lunchtimes when hordes of work­ers from nearby of­fices drop in for soups served in caul­dron-like pots, spicy gochu­jang-laden stir fries and crisply fried kim­chi or seafood pan­cakes. Each comes served on a tray, most with steamed rice and four side dishes, or ban­chan, of which the kim­chi and pick­led daikon are par­tic­u­larly good. We also love the tteok­bokki — chewy rice cakes and sliv­ers of fish sausage served in a slightly sweet and very spicy sauce.

● ● ● Korean

BBQ DUCK CAFE 350 Queen St

Its BYO li­cence, big ta­bles and close prox­im­ity to mid­town’s the­atres and down­town’s lively bars make BBQ Duck a group din­ner dream. Roasted and bar­be­cued meats hang from hooks in the kitchen win­dow and you or­der them half or whole; if din­ing solo, go for what the menu de­scribes as the “best choice” — one or two of th­ese juicy meats on rice. In a larger group, whole Pek­ing duck with pan­cakes, savoury hoisin and shred­ded spring onion and cu­cum­ber is a crowd pleaser. Deep-fried spicy chicken, green beans with pork mince, and won­ton noo­dle soup are also rec­om­mended.

Can­tonese ● ● ●

Eden Ter­race RA­MEN DO 167 Sy­monds St

Noo­dles made in-house swim­ming in broths sim­mered for days, topped with slices of per­fectly roasted pork — this is where you come to feed your soul. Shrimp-flavoured spicy miso and the umami bomb gyokai also keep us com­ing back. There are many places

for ra­men in Auck­land, but this hum­ble owner-op­er­ated restau­rant, which started with lit­tle more than a few out­door ta­bles, is hard to go past.

Ra­men ●

Glen Innes HONG KONG KITCHEN 290 Api­rana Ave

It’s a ba­sic take­away-style joint with a faded frontage and only a hand­ful of ta­bles but Hong Kong Kitchen is the place to go for bar­be­cued and roasted meats. Own­ers Colin and Yoanna Yee cook their duck, chicken and pork to crackly yet suc­cu­lent per­fec­tion and you can or­der one or more on rice, plain or in noo­dle soup. Open from 11am, the “value lunch spe­cial” of won ton or dumpling soup or soup of the day, served with a choice of one of 10 rice meals, is $12.

Can­tonese ●

Karanga­hape Rd Precinct UN­CLE MAN’S 277 Karanga­hape Rd

It’s hard to go past the roti canai at this fam­ily-run out­fit; but­tery rounds are made fresh out front of the kitchen to whet your ap­petite. Whether you choose dahl, chicken curry or beef ren­dang on the side, you won’t be dis­ap­pointed. If you can forgo the roti, Malay sta­ples such as nasi lemak, mee goreng and Ny­onya curry laksa are ex­cel­lent, too. It’s no sur­prise this place has be­come a K’ Rd favourite, ex­pand­ing into a sec­ond din­ing room this year — per­fect for larger groups.

Malaysian ● ●

Kings­land PETRA SHAWARMA 482 New North Rd

It’s at the pricier end of this list, but ev­ery­thing that comes out of this tiny kitchen is bril­liant, if at times a bit slow. Heavy on sumac and cashews, musakan — a spiced chicken and onion roll served with salad and yo­ghurt — is one of the best things on the menu here; flaky, spicy and meaty all at once. And we need to talk about the babaganoosh: creamy in flavour yet with an en­joy­ably coarse tex­ture, tahini adds depth while lemon brings acid­ity. De­li­cious.

Jor­da­nian ● ●

Mt Eden/Do­min­ion Rd CHONGQING NOO­DLES 340 Do­min­ion Rd

Chongqing was part of China’s Sichuan prov­ince un­til the 90s, so the cit­rusy tin­gle of Sichuan pep­per, dried chilli, black vine­gar and peanuts are hall­marks of its cui­sine. This place is adorned with su­per­sized pho­tos of var­i­ous dishes and there are flasks of com­pli­men­tary tea. We come here to gorge on ten­der cold poached chicken in chilli sauce with peanuts and co­rian­der, del­i­cate “hemp” dumplings (a quirk of trans­la­tion?) in pep­per sauce, bright and flo­ral in spite of its heat, and noo­dles with pick­led pep­per and gin­ger duck that re­ward those who suck flesh from bone, all tamed with a cool­ing cu­cum­ber salad drenched in sesame and vine­gar. Chongqing

EDEN NOO­DLES 105 Do­min­ion Rd

Queu­ing is oblig­a­tory at this bustling Sichuan gem, and it’s es­sen­tial to em­brace the burn; a heady mix of deeply pun­gent broths, the un­mis­tak­able sen­sa­tion of Sichuan pep­per and thick slicks of fiery chilli oil. The food is ex­po­nen­tially bet­ter at tra­di­tional (not Euro­peanised) heat lev­els, so or­der ex­tra hot with con­fi­dence. Start with favourites like slob­bery chicken, dan dan or noo­dles with spicy beef in soup — be sure to stir be­fore you slurp to rel­ish the high while wip­ing the sweat from your brow.

Sichuan ●

GUILIN RICE NOO­DLES 263 Do­min­ion Rd

Lighter broths than you’ll find else­where on Do­min­ion Rd form the base of the noo­dle dishes here, and ex­tra soup comes on the side so you can add more as you please. The rice noo­dles are made in-house; they’re per­fectly chewy, bouncy and so sat­is­fy­ing when fol­lowed quickly by a mouth­ful of soup and a spoon­ful of top­pings such as peanuts, spring onions, pick­led chilli and cow peas. The one-free-re­fill-on-noo­dles pol­icy makes al­ready low prices an even bet­ter deal. Don’t miss the tra­di­tional roast pork. Guilin-style noo­dles ● ●

JOLIN SHANG­HAI 248 Do­min­ion Rd

This is a fan­tas­tic spot for pre­ci­sion-made xiao long bao. Each care­fully wrapped par­cel con­tains a nugget of juicy pork mince and a mouth­ful of hot soup — bite a small hole in the wrap­per and let the ther­monu­clear broth drain onto your spoon be­fore eat­ing, to avoid scald­ing your mouth. As well as

soup dumplings, owner Lei “Kelvin” Zhang likes to rec­om­mend his deep-fried sweet and sour blue cod, ideal for larger groups. If din­ing in a pair, try the egg­plant with five top­pings — egg, shrimp, pork, pars­ley and gar­lic — salty duck and smoked fish noo­dle soup, or a sim­ple sweet and sour pork chop on rice. Shang­hainese ●●●●

RAS VATIKA

596 Do­min­ion Rd

The $7 small thali at this veg­e­tar­ian can­teen is crim­i­nally un­der­rated and ex­cep­tional value: two freshly fried roti, a scoop of curry, plus that day’s dahl, and white rice. You won’t get a choice, but the curry might be a tomato-based egg­plant dish laced with gin­ger and cumin, or a drier, spicier po­tato and pea num­ber — both are ex­cel­lent. The masala dosa is a tooth­some pan­cake-ish cre­ation cooked in but­ter then rolled around an al dente po­tato-and-onion mix, with co­conut chut­ney and samb­har for dip­ping. Be­ware the some­times in­con­sis­tent open­ing hours. South In­dian ● ●

SHA XIAN SNACK

285 Do­min­ion Rd

Del­i­ca­cies from Sha County in Fu­jian are so well re­garded that in China, Shax­ian Del­i­ca­cies, a trade­marked fran­chise serv­ing them, has sev­eral thou­sand out­lets. This Do­min­ion Rd eatery pays homage to the fa­mous brand, and we can see why Sha County shines a light: the cui­sine here cov­ers a good deal of China in va­ri­ety, from dan dan mian to spe­cial soups and lacy fried dumplings. As the name sug­gests, there’s also a great range of snacky things such as cumin lamb skew­ers, or spicy-sour po­tato salad for when you just fancy a nib­ble. Fu­jian and wider Chi­nese

SHAOLIN KUNG FU NOO­DLE 636 Do­min­ion Rd

Long, hand-pulled noo­dles tossed with spicy seafood. Flappy, cleaver-cut ones ly­ing half-sub­merged in restora­tive soups with in­ter­est­ing floaty bits — goji berries, for ex­am­ple, or Chi­nese plums, or piled on

top of bone-in chicken chunks. This eatery is ha­lal, so there’s no pork on the menu, but it’s a wel­come change to eat ten­der, cumin-braised lamb in­stead: lumpy, jagged-edged noo­dles are fried with the meat, toma­toes and onions. It’s not pretty to look at but is, with­out doubt, one of the most sat­is­fy­ing meals in town.

He­nan-style ● ●

SPICY HOUSE 557 Do­min­ion Rd

Have the Uber driver take a de­tour to Spicy House on the way home from wher­ever — they’re open un­til 4.30am on Fri­days and Satur­days and 3am most other days. Head a hang­over off at the pass by wolf­ing down bat­tered, smoky-spicy-sweet chilli mush­rooms, sticky braised pork hock, fried chicken gris­tle with spicy salt, and hot steamed rice. Be sure to con­sult the spe­cials board on the wall and give the of­fal a go — the chef here knows what he’s do­ing with it.

Sichuan ● ● ●

TASTY NOO­DLE

1/919 Do­min­ion Rd With booths and blinds rem­i­nis­cent of Pulp Fic­tion, this is the per­fect place to re­fuel be­fore stock­ing your pantry at Tai Ping. There’s a mix­ture of Chi­nese cuisines, with the oblig­a­tory beef hand-cut-noo­dle soup in a re­ward­ing broth more sub­tly spiced than oth­ers in town, and giz­zards and in­testines for the nose-to-tail in­clined. Raw shred­ded po­tato salad prick­ling with Sichuan pep­per and vine­gar is sim­ple yet sur­pris­ingly de­li­cious, but the briny, sweet, crunchy, sharp, cold clam chive and onion salad steals the show.

Chi­nese ●

TOM YUM EDEN 257 Do­min­ion Rd

You can get a very good som tum salad here, made with ac­tual pa­paya rather than the car­rot sub­sti­tute so com­monly em­ployed. Cur­ries are creamy with­out over­shad­ow­ing base notes of ex­pertly made spice pastes and aro­mat­ics; they’re also gen­er­ous on the meat and veg, which we like. Veg­eta­bles in stir-fried dishes taste like they’ve just kissed the wok, re­main­ing pleas­ingly crunchy. The star of the show is thick, salty-sweet­hot beef panang curry, rich with co­conut and peanuts and served with sticky rice.

Thai ● ● ● ● ● Top 10

WANG WANG SPRING PAN­CAKE 704 Do­min­ion Rd

It’s easy to over-or­der here, what with the tempt­ing ar­ray of meat and veg­etable dishes con­tin­u­ously pass­ing by your ta­ble on huge hot plates, ready to be stuffed into tis­sue-thin, cooked-to-or­der pan­cakes. Three plates be­tween four is more than enough, and we rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing: deeply savoury shred­ded pork in Pek­ing sauce, spicy-sour shred­ded po­tato, and North­ern Chi­nese-style pork and pre­served cab­bage — akin to sausages and sauer­kraut in flavour, it’s whole­some, warm­ing and funky in a good way.

Chi­nese ●

XI’AN FOOD BAR 650 Do­min­ion Rd

A big bowl of lumpy hand-pulled noo­dles topped with braised pork is sure to cure a hang­over, rainy-day blues, or a work-in­duced rut. Still great value at $11, Xi’an re­mains a firm favourite with the Cheap Eats judges, and the lo­cal work­ers who stop by for lunch or din­ner. While there’s not much at­mo­sphere, we’ve come to love the Chi­nese soap op­eras that are al­ways on the TV. If you’re with vege­tar­i­ans, point out the gar­lic-laden veg and chilli oil noo­dles and the cu­cum­ber salad.

Shaanxi ●

ZOOL ZOOL 405 Mt Eden Rd

Posher than some other places on this list, Zool Zool is great for a date and when you need some­thing more than plas­tic ta­bles and un­for­giv­ing light­ing. There’s a short but strong wine list, beer tow­ers — in case things go south — and the food’s both con­sid­ered and well ex­e­cuted (hardly a sur­prise with Kazuya Ya­mauchi of fine diner Kazuya at the helm). If you find your­self here be­tween Wed­nes­day and Satur­day, or­der the creamy pai­tan ra­men, a glo­ri­ously fill­ing chicken-based broth topped with chicken char-shu, spinach, egg and wakame sea­weed.

Ja­panese/Ra­men ● ●

Mt Al­bert TASTE IN MEM­ORY 964 New North Rd

Open from 8.30am, the set­ting at this Mt Al­bert new­bie is sim­ple and the silky won­tons in re­fined broth are com­plex yet com­fort­ing enough for break­fast. But we’re here for the xiao long bao — touted by some as

the best in Auck­land — and at just $8 for six, they are a to­tal steal. Only a lim­ited num­ber of the la­bo­ri­ously hand-pleated parcels are made each day, so go early (or phone to or­der). Pigs-head dumplings and noo­dles with pre­served veg­eta­bles are ex­em­plary, but hon­estly, ev­ery­thing on the short menu is great. Save room for a white fun­gus con­gee. Closed Wednesdays.

Shang­hainese/Can­tonese ●

Hen­der­son JOMARU KOREAN RESTAU­RANT 1/42 Para­mount Drive

In this hid­den cor­ner of Hen­der­son, you’ll be greeted like fam­ily and eat like kings. The restau­rant is home to ex­cel­lent ver­sions of Korean favourites like jeyuk (pork stir-fry) and kim­chi stew, but go for the pork back­bone soup: a com­plex con­coc­tion flavoured with soy­bean paste and topped with per­illa pow­der. Pick up the pork pieces and suck out ten­der meat down to the bone; to not miss a drop, scoop a few spoon­fuls of rice into your soup and slurp it up to­gether.

Korean ● ●

Bur­swood/Somerville HUN­GRY HEAD 8c Tor­rens Rd

The hus­tle is real and the menu is vast at Hun­gry Head, where the chef (ex-Kingston Noo­dles) is best known for his af­ford­able Hong Kong noo­dle soups. Bowls of thin, firm egg noo­dles and dis­tinctly fishy broth come topped with won­tons, house-made fish balls or com­bi­na­tion beef (in­nards in­cluded). Dine solo on a yel­low ban­quette or come with a crew to se­cure a ta­ble, though they’re of­ten oc­cu­pied by lo­cals gnaw­ing on pig trot­ters and other del­i­ca­cies. Closed Wednesdays.

Can­tonese/Hong Kong ●

KINGSTON NOO­DLES 119 Mead­ow­lands Drive

Somerville Shop­ping Court is an East Auck­land ad­ven­ture where $9 bowls of noo­dles trans­port you to a bustling Hong Kong cafe. This is au­then­tic food, cooked for the lo­cal Chi­nese com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing pork knuck­les in a lightly spiced pork and fish soup, and braised beef, gen­er­ous and melt­ingly ten­der in a rich broth, to which you add chilli oil pun­gent with fer­mented shrimp. Devour with a serv­ing of steamed let­tuce in bean curd chilli sauce and a strong milky tea — a hang­over of Bri­tish rule — to wash it down. Cash only.

Can­tonese/Hong Kong ●

Mt Roskill CAFE ABYSSINIA Tulja Cen­tre, 190 Stod­dard Rd

Ar­rive be­fore you’re ready to eat, be­cause ev­ery­thing is cooked to or­der by the sole chef, owner Be­beta As­faw, who also runs the floor. As­faw is from Ethiopia and in her sparsely dec­o­rated restau­rant at the rear of a pokey shop­ping mall, she cel­e­brates her her­itage through food. The menu is a short se­lec­tion of del­i­cately spiced stews and pan­cakey fer­mented flat­breads called in­jera. The tibs — stir-fried beef or lamb served with “mirac­u­lous her­bal of but­ter” — is ex­cel­lent, all sticky and meaty. And you must or­der doro wat — chicken with lime juice, smoky berbere, slow-cooked onion and hard-boiled egg. Carb-heavy, the food here takes the edge off a cold evening.

Ethiopian ●

J’S TEA 919 Do­min­ion Rd

This Tai­wanese pearl tea shop also rolls out im­pres­sive food which is great value. Meal “sets” come in a bento-style presentation with a main (the crispy squid is es­pe­cially mor­eish), mixed-grain rice, a few room-tem­per­a­ture veg­etable dishes, half a soy egg, and soup. All for, oh, around $14 or so. The beef and beef brisket noo­dle soups are also fan­tas­tic — full of chunks of slow-

cooked beef and unc­tu­ous bits of ten­don, they’re fra­grant with star anise, with a wee kick of Sichuan pep­per, and won­der­fully com­fort­ing. Tai­wanese ●

TAI­WANESE CUI­SINE MIGHTY ROC 1276 Do­min­ion Rd

With its flo­ral wall­pa­per, as­tro­turfed door­way and hip­ster light fix­tures, this cute-asa-but­ton place is a stark con­trast to some of the more spar­tan spots on Do­min­ion Rd. It serves up sim­ple Tai­wanese clas­sics, and all rice meals come with a tra­di­tional se­lec­tion of veg­etable side dishes. We like the braised pork belly and the Tai­wanese sausage. Else­where on the menu, stewed beef noo­dle soup is rich and warm­ing, and the fried chicken, which is slightly sweetly spiced, is some of the best we’ve had.

Tai­wanese ●

SANTHIYA’S

1270 Do­min­ion Rd The range of light op­tions here makes try­ing lots of dishes easy. Mee goreng noo­dles with prawns and chicken have just the right amount of grunt, and the murtabak — lamb and onion stuffed roti — is fatty and crunchy, leav­ing a saucy slick on the fin­gers as you dunk chunks into the ac­com­pa­ny­ing dhal or chicken curry. Es­pe­cially good value are the ba­nana leaf Sun­day meals — all you can eat for $18 per per­son at lunchtime and $20 at night. There’s no booze, so opt for a hot, sweet tea or fresh lime juice in­stead. Malaysian/South In­dian ● ●

New Lynn/Block­house Bay JAI JALARAM KHAMAN 39 Bound­ary Rd

An unas­sum­ing lit­tle place on the edge of Block­house Bay where the seat­ing is ba­sic and the cut­lery is plas­tic, but they’ve been serv­ing up some of the best Gu­jarati food in Auck­land since 2006. Staff are happy to make rec­om­men­da­tions but most din­ers or­der pau bhaji — three soft, white, masala bread buns to dip into a smooth and rich po­tato, tomato and pea curry. The short menu is en­tirely veg­e­tar­ian; most dishes can be made ve­gan. Owner Hitesh Thakkar proudly pro­claims no colour­ing, milk, or cream is used in any of the food.

Gu­jarati ● ●

MR ZHOU’S DUMPLINGS 3130 Great North Rd

Mr Zhou’s is still the yard­stick for a good dumpling in this city and with more than 20 flavours to choose from, you might have a tough time choos­ing. We’re keen on the punchy pork and fen­nel and, for non-meat eaters, veg­e­tar­ian dumplings with waxy cashew nuts. If you’re toss­ing up be­tween boiled, steamed or fried, half and half is an op­tion. Throw in a chilli-soaked sliced dried tofu and cu­cum­ber salad and a spring onion pan­cake or two and leave sat­is­fied. The Mt Eden branch is li­censed and BYO if you want a beer to wash it all down.

North­ern Chi­nese ● ●

NOO­DLE HEAVEN 3114 Great North Rd

You’ll find Noo­dle Heaven in an old roast take­away joint in New Lynn. They’ve squeezed in a few ta­bles and some bar stools and now, rather than spuds and gravy at the counter, house-made lap cheong (Chi­nese cured sausages) hang from wires be­hind the till and bundles of freshly made noo­dles rest un­der tea tow­els. As is typ­i­cal for Sichuan cui­sine, the food is spicy, but many dishes have a dis­tinct light­ness to them. Even bowls of beef stew noo­dles seem del­i­cate and fresh. The lack of an on­line pres­ence makes it im­pos­si­ble to browse the menu be­fore you visit, so trust us and or­der the dan dan noo­dles, which are meaty and mor­eish and $9 a serve.

Sichuan ●

THE NOO­DLE HOUSE 3110 Great North Rd

Malaysian noo­dle dishes — in soups or dry — take cen­tre stage at this bare-bones eatery on a busy stretch of Great North Rd. The own­ers are from Ipoh, so try the re­gional spe­cialty of chicken rice with bean sprouts, but also make room for Pe­nangstyle dishes like as­sam laksa and prawn noo­dle soup. Many Malaysian restau­rants are geared to­wards shar­ing larger dishes so are a tad too pricey to be in­cluded in this list, but The Noo­dle House, with its nar­rower fo­cus and dishes sized per­fectly for solo din­ers (per­fectly share­able, too, if you like), comes in at the cheaper end of the list. Malaysian rice and noo­dles ●

New­mar­ket SELERA 487 Khy­ber Pass Rd

Lunchtime is the best time to grab a bowl of Selera’s much-hyped curry laksa, when the fra­grant spice paste that forms the base of the soup is at its punchi­est. Squid, fish balls, juicy prawns and egg noo­dles bob in the depths. At night, go for slightly sweet and rather rich nasi lemak beef ren­dang, cooked all day and fall­ing apart at the touch of a fork. It’s served with the req­ui­site ski­non peanuts, cu­cum­ber, egg, co­conut rice, and dried an­chovies.

Malaysian ●

TIANFU NOO­DLES 477 Khy­ber Pass Rd

You might be rightly daz­zled by the noo­dle op­tions here, which range from wheat to shaved to rice to ku­mara, but don’t dis­miss the dumplings. Our favourite? Pork and chive in chicken soup: no fewer than 20 swim­ming in an enormous steam­ing bowl of clear flavour­some liq­uid — a steal at 12 bucks. Of­fal eaters will rel­ish the choice of pigs’ tongues and ears, chicken giz­zards and ox tripe. Pop­u­lar with stu­dents and solo work­ers on the run, the sim­ple white and grey space is warmed by af­fa­ble ser­vice. Our new go-to for a quick bite be­fore a movie around the cor­ner.

Sichuan ●

North Shore BI WON KOREAN 29 Link Drive, Wairau Val­ley

Grab a group of friends to gather around the fiery char­coal cook­ers and make a night of it, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween turn­ing cuts of meat on the hot plate and claim­ing tangy kim­chi and sweet fish­cake strips off the com­mu­nal ban­chan. Or­der as much as numbers will al­low; our top picks are un­mar­i­nated pork belly, sliced mar­ble beef and ten­der rib, siz­zled and quickly dipped in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing sesame oil and salt. Scis­sors are pro­vided to snip the meats to share, and ad­vice is given freely for first-time bar­be­cuers, as are ban­chan top-ups.

Korean ● ●

DUMPLING ACE 39 Pearn Place, North­cote

Start with a plate of grilled cumin lamb skew­ers, fol­lowed by a bowl of the spe­cialty, dao xiao mian: thick, chewy and sat­is­fy­ing hand-shaved noo­dles. Ir­reg­u­lar in length and edges, th­ese are served in spicy-sour soups and healthy her­bal broths, topped with chilli oil. (For a non-spicy al­ter­na­tive, try the stir-fried op­tion.) Add a lay­ered spring onion pan­cake, made from light dough and fried in hot oil un­til crisp, to break up the in­tense flavours.

Shaanxi ● ●

LAKE DUMPLINGS 438 Lake Rd, Taka­puna

The nine-page menu at this mod­est spot is filled with meat and veg­etable dishes to share, chilli-oil soups and win­try hot pots, but we come here for the name­sake dish: the hand­made dumplings. There are seven va­ri­eties, which come boiled, pan-fried or served in a bowl of sour-and-spicy sauce. We like the “spicy dumplings” op­tion with pork, chives and shrimp, the sauce just enough to coat the smooth skin hid­ing a par­cel of flavour­some fill­ing.

North­ern Chi­nese ●

MAMAK MALAYSIAN STREET FOOD 6 Huron St, Taka­puna

Street-food dishes as good as those found in the open-air hawker cen­tres of Malaysia are served with great en­thu­si­asm here. Favourites in­clude the pop­u­lar and very pun­gent Sarawak laksa — a sta­ple of East Malaysian cui­sine — as well as smoky char kway teow packed full of seafood, and Hainanese chicken rice with del­i­cately poached chicken and fra­grant, mor­eish rice. Hot, sweet­ened pulled teas round things off nicely, or go the whole hog and or­der a Milo Godzilla — a Malaysian iced choco­late topped with vanilla ice cream and Milo pow­der.

Malaysian ● ●

NAMWON CHUEOTANG 7b/20 Link Drive, Wairau Val­ley

Named for the South Korean city of Namwon and its beloved loach (mud­fish) soup, chueo-tang is a tra­di­tional dish eaten at the start of au­tumn to keep the cold-weather blues at bay. If the ar­ray of hot­pot soups here doesn’t ap­peal, the dol­sot-bibim­bap hits the ta­ble still siz­zling. Re­sist the urge to stir too much and you’ll be re­warded with the ex­tra crunch of scorched rice at the bot­tom. The kim­chi is a sidedish favourite and one of the spici­est in Auck­land.

Korean ● ●

RA­MEN TAKARA 4 An­zac Rd, Browns Bay

Yuki Ya­m­aguchi-Lewin ar­rived in New Zealand more than a decade ago with a noo­dle ma­chine in her lug­gage. She’s still the driv­ing force be­hind Ra­men Takara, mak­ing noo­dle soups to her grand­fa­ther’s recipes. We love hearty, pork-based clas­sics such as chashu and tonkotsu ra­men, and with rice noo­dles, veg­e­tar­ian and gluten-free choices, ev­ery­one in the group is cov­ered. The Pon­sonby Rd branch is a top pick for an af­ford­able meal nearer the cen­tral city.

Ra­men/Ja­panese ● ● ●

YUE’S DUMPLING KITCHEN Unit 5, 21 Corinthian Drive, Al­bany

What sets Yue’s apart is, yes, the dumplings, whose fill­ings de­liver on the menu’s prom­ise: there’s lots of co­rian­der when it says co­rian­der, and lots of cel­ery when it says cel­ery, so the flavours are quite dis­tinct. Dumplings aside, the lit­tle spe­cials board near the en­trance is worth keep­ing an eye on — we were re­cently re­warded with a great slow-cooked chicken dish with mush­rooms and ver­mi­celli noo­dles. And we love their broc­coli; a very sim­ple dish, the broc­coli is just wok fried with gar­lic, but it’s per­fectly cooked and very fresh.

North­ern Chi­nese ● ●

YUMMY KOREAN BBQ RESTAU­RANT 23 Mokoia Rd, Birken­head

Don’t be fooled by the name — this hus­band-and-wife-run op­er­a­tion ac­tu­ally spe­cialises in soups, stir fries and stews. We have tried and failed many times to go past the gam­jatang, or pork back­bone soup — so pep­pery it’ll knock a cold right out of you (the fish roe and ox bone soups are al­most as re­ward­ing). Come sum­mer, chewy, spicy, cold noo­dles — tra­di­tion­ally served as a side with grilled meat meals but just as good on their own — are a lighter op­tion. Korean

OP­PO­SITE PAGE— Eden Noo­dles. LEFT— Kway teow mee soup at Mamak Malaysian Street Food in Taka­puna.

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