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Baifu Dumplings. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

Metro Top 50 Cheap Eats in Auckland 2021

Where to eat for under $20(ish).

2020 has been pretty god-awful. Hospitality really went through it — with short-notice lockdowns, confusing Alert Levels, social distancing, single-server mandates, winter slowdowns, takeaway pivoting, and other buzzwords we’ve seen thrown around, it’s truly been a year.

But it looks like we’ve made it through the worst (dangerous to write this in print, we know), and emerged out the other end with a renewed appreciation for our restaurants, particularly those in this affordable and often takeaway-friendly space. We still remember our  first taste of ‘outside food’ after four long weeks of Level 4 lockdown: a greasy cardboard box of Korean Fried Chicken, that golden triangle of crispy, golden and oily you could never achieve at home.

Our  first Top 50 in this Metro rebirth, Cheap Eats, is an unapologetic celebration of that appreciation. This is the food we eat on the daily; that sustains us and our communities; that we look forward to tucking into with little fanfare or fuss; where we can feel comfortable to use our hands and lick our fingers at the table. You might notice the criteria are a little looser — under $20(ish) — and there are a few places you can only grab dinner if you’re very early, but we think that’s okay. We want them here because they’re so good, any concessions are worth it.

As we do every year, we reflected on the elephant in the room: the name “Cheap Eats”. There is a growing consensus that both Metro and the 50 restaurants in the list have outgrown the name, so, rest assured, we’re working on it. Or, at least, thinking about it. Enjoy!

Presented by AF Drinks.

Skip down to index by suburb

Who won what: Supreme Winner, Best Dish, Best New & more

Taste of Home: Momo Juction, Gold Ribbon, Just Plove, It’s Java

BAIFU DUMPLINGS

475 Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket
Dongbei

Dumplings at this Newmarket joint can come in a spicy hot-and-sour soup called suan la tang, which works perfectly with the denser skins favoured here — we particularly like the lamb. Under the cold dishes, a plate of vermicelli in a similar spicy hot-and-sour sauce (see the pattern?) is also good, as well as the mala beef slices. What really sets this place apart, though, is the excellent, friendly service and lovely staff who are always up for a chat.

CHONGQING NOODLES

340 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Chongqing

With a fresh, lockdown makeover, Chongqing Noodles is back and better than ever. As in neighbouring Sichuan, the food from the Chongqing province, which gives this restaurant its name, is full of punch, heat and tingle. It’s the kind of spice that can twist your brain more than your mouth. One panellist recalled ordering a “very hot” bowl of Shaved Noodles with Chongqing Flavoured Chicken — tender bone-in morsels of chicken with thick rough noodles in a deep, chilli-laden soup — and almost passing out from its psychoactive effects. And they meant this as a recommendation.

CHU LONG JI

11/20 Link Dr, Wairau Valley
Shanghainese

Chu Long Ji roughly translates to “fresh from the steamer”, which makes perfect sense, considering the best things here are. Take a little bite from the thin skin of its xiaolongbao and let the broth drain onto your soup spoon, downing it all when it feels a little less nuclear. You generally have to order at the counter, and while you’re there, grab a couple cold dishes — mushrooms or pork ribs — from inside the cabinet
Top 10

DAAMSO

9/14 Bishop Lenihan Pl, East Tamaki
Korean

There is something special about an excellent gamjatang (pork backbone stew) — cloudy, spicy broth, perfectly cooked pork swiped off the bone, and a pot packed with napa cabbage and other greens. Daamso’s version is special indeed, making it one of the best Korean stews we’ve had. Among its other solo outings, a sizzling plate of tender squid and pork belly hits the spot. But if you really want to get bang for your buck, come in a group and feast on their large, cauldron-like hotpots.

Food at Daamso. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

EDEN NOODLES

105 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Sichuan

The crowded cluster of Cheap Eats stickers from previous years displayed on Eden Noodles’ window speaks to just how much we love this place, and with constant lines snaking out the door and the cult-level of fanaticism their dumplings in spicy sauce inspire, we’re certain the rest of Auckland agrees, too. Everyone has their own special order, but we’re partial to the classics, like noodles with spicy sauce and crispy pork mince on top, or the dan dan, of course.
Supreme Winner | Top 10

GOLD RIBBON

1 West Coast Rd, Glen Eden
Filipino

If there’s one thing Gold Ribbon is known for, it’s that unmistakable bright purple ube (purple yam) featured in its in-house ice cream and colourful halo-halo. It’s also a popular flavour for Gold Ribbon’s take-home celebration cakes, of which they make up to 200 a week. The other favourites here are dinuguan — crispy pork in a stew of pork blood (don’t be put off by that, it’s extremely tasty), and the sizzling sisig. But owner/chef Ronald Ricafrente tells us he’d like to be known for his adobo, so get that too.

GUILIN RICE NOODLES

263 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Guilin

Even though the popularity of rice noodles has skyrocketed and so have the amount of places to get them, we always find our way back to Guilin. That could be because the noodles are made inhouse and probably the best we’ve had, just the right side of chewy. The traditional, with beef and pork, is the obvious (and right) choice, but they have surprisingly good options for vegetarians as well, with mock meat and braised tofu.

HAPPY CAFE

697 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak
Cantonese

This is exactly the kind of humble and unpretentious place that can feel just like home, with an auntie at front-of-house and ducks and pork belly hanging at the window, ready to be chopped up for your meal. The soups, featuring satisfyingly savoury depth and generous meaty portions of roast duck and beef brisket, run at only $10 a bowl. In fact, all the meals here are liberally sized, making it for as our judge wrote, “Covid-recession Cantonese”.

HUAI YANG

302 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Jiangsu

Playfully subtitled “A noodle less ordinary”, Huai Yang, which opened in October 2019, is just that — a noodle shop unlike any other in Auckland. It’s not that the food tends toward fresh, crunchy, light and lively with a plentiful vegetarian menu, but the look and feel of the place is utterly unique in this city. Where else can you get a combination of health-conscious yet flavourful noodles, delicate ceramic mugs of craft beer, Scandi-minimalist aesthetics, smooth jazz, and sides of sticky, spicy peanuts?
Top 10

At Huai Yang. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

IT’S JAVA

16 Vinegar Ln, Grey Lynn
Indonesian

The feel-good vibes of this colourful compact cafe are infectious, from the earnest “with good sambal comes good times” decal on one wall, to the upbeat family-forward service. The menu is a lesson in Indonesian street food favourites, starting from tangy rujak (a fruit and vegetable salad) to comfort-food-heaven soto ayam (chicken noodle soup) and bubur ayam (congee). As the wall decal suggests, the sambal is fragrant and life-affirmingly hot, best eaten in nasi campur or ayam penyet and also available in take-home jars.

JAI JALARAM KHAMAN

39 Boundary Rd, Blockhouse Bay
Gujarati

Jai Jalaram Khaman celebrated their 14th birthday this past July, which is no mean feat in an era with higher and higher turnover. It’s easy to see why they have the longevity, as their menu of Gujarati-specific dishes packs a punch — both in flavour and spice. And if you like spice, then their Bullet Khaman special is the one for you: a version of the usual chickpea paste snack dialled up to 1000. Proceed with caution.
Top 10

JUST PLOVE

433 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Central Asian/Russian

One of the only places to have Central Asian food in Auckland (the owners are from Kazakhstan), Just Plove is the new spot on Dominion Rd. Plov (or “plove” as it is here) is a rice dish smacking of garlic and cumin, mixed in with meat (usually lamb) and carrots and cooked in a cast-iron pot. It’s in the name, so it should be on the table. Add to that a serving of pelmeni and the morkovcha, a “Korean Carrot Salad”, spicy and crisp.

KEBABISH

599 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham
Middle Eastern

After a lengthy gestation, the owners of Paradise (see below) have finally birthed Kebabish from the husk of Prague, possibly Auckland’s least-missed neighbourhood bar at the edge of the Sandringham shops. Kebabish is exactly what it sounds like: shawarma and kebabs, but elevated beyond expectation in the hands of the Paradise machine. The $9 chicken shawarma in a samoli (a light bread roll) with chilli sauce and cucumber yogurt is particularly excellent.

KHU KHU EATERY

171A Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
Thai

Fully vegan eateries are hard to come by, and even more so at this price point. Luckily, newly opened Khu Khu Eatery moved into a slip of a space on Ponsonby Rd, bringing with it a raft of zingy Thai dishes that, even without the umami of fish sauce, don’t skimp on the flavour. Everything is designed to share, and we especially recommend the Panang curry with crispy tofu and crunchy almonds — a textural delight — and that sweet and sour ‘chicken’.

KING MADE NOODLES

48 Fort St, Central City
Lanzhou

This place is neat-as-a-pin and located downtown, a rare gem for inner-city workers, and, bonus, the staff are always quick to get you in and out the door. The noodles are pulled to order and so have a great bite: bouncy, fresh, and a pleasure to eat. Your best bet is to get the traditional Lanzhou beef noodle soup, which comes with deeply flavoured clear broth, bright and fragrant chilli oil, shaved beef, and a handful of herbs.

At King Made Noodles. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

KIIN THAI UNDERGROUND KITCHEN

699 Mount Eden Rd, Mt Eden
Thai

There’s much to like about this new addition to our list, but what we love the most are the salads — the aggressively hot chicken larb; two versions of som tum, a papaya and carrot salad, one pungent with Thai anchovies and pickled crab, the other acidic and crunchy with lemon and peanuts. Perfect summer food.

KL CAFE

7/4055 Great North Rd, Glen Eden
Malaysian

Lobak are a Malaysian Nyonya specialty, rolled up in bean curd sheets, stuff ed with five-spiced meat and then fried for a crunchy exterior. Get that here. Also great is the signature homemade tofu, beautiful golden outsides giving way to a soft tofu centre, which we recommend dipping into the accompanying sweet chilli sauce. Oh, and if you have room for dessert, treat yourself to a slice of crepe cake, the many layers smushing together for a wonderful, creamy bite.

MALAYSIAN RICE AND NOODLE HOUSE

57d Wolverton St, Avondale
Malaysian

Two words: pork lard. Crisp croutons and wonderful fat lend the char kway teow at this Avondale spot a deliciousness which pairs well with the smoky wok hei. That and the saucy hokkien mee are the best things to order here; both are similar to what you may find in Kuala Lumpur. One thing to watch out for is that it’s cash only, and the lack of tables make it popular for takeaway.

MOMO JUNCTION

Shop 2/360 Great North Rd, Henderson
Himalayan

While momo is in the name, this restaurant is out to prove there’s more to Himalayan cuisine than dumplings (though they are delicious — get the jhol option, steamed in a spicy sauce). We love the shafaley, a deep-fried pastry pleated around a stuff ing of minced meat and a gingery chilli sauce; one helping is never enough. Tingmo and shapta, a Tibetan delicacy, comes with soft knotted bread, steamed like Chinese buns, to mop up the juices from the meat stir-fry.

MUMBAI CHAAT

1a Kitchener Rd, Sandringham
Mumbai

The thali here is the business: a round platter of puff ed-up puris, dal, chutney and assorted curries and pickles makes for a colourful plate and, even better, a masterful balance of flavours. If that’s not enough, then the Mumbai street-style mainstays are another reliable go-to, such as pav bhaji — curry served with bread — tangy bhelpuri and a flavoursome samosa chaat. Oh, and everything is vegetarian, by the way.

At Mumbai Chaat. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

MR HAO

365 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Chinese

Yes, we had those spicy chicken wings. And, yes, they’re good, perfectly fried and juicy, resting in a bed of Sichuan pepper and onion sesame crumbs. But you’d be missing out without grabbing some of the skewers — they’re Mr Hao’s specialty — especially those of the chicken heart variety, oh so tender and dusted in a fiery cumin spice mix. Elsewhere, the BBQ seafood platter ($19) is immensely good value, as are the $8 cocktails on tap to wash everything down with.

MR TACO

64a Federal St, central city
Mexican

Our previously California-based restaurant reviewer literally wept with joy during her visit to Mr Taco (see her full review on page 152), and we understand why. The tacos at owner Manuel Moreno González’s hole-in-the-wall taqueria are punchy, with an array of different salsas that send pleasure signals straight to your brain. Get three for $12 — the al pastor and cactus are wonderful, as are the fish — and make sure you stay within the vicinity, because you’ll want more. Other great news: by the time you read this, González will have opened a second outlet just around the corner.
Top 10

NEW FLAVOUR

537 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Chinese

After changing hands yet again, we’re happy to report that New Flavour — the dumpling house that changed the game on Dominion Rd — is back on form, with different dishes and fresh, well-balanced flavours. The menu is huge, and intriguing (kumara in hot toff ee, anyone?) but even the basics, like fried pork strips in sweet and sour sauce, are done well (theirs is twice-cooked). A bowl of shredded pork and pickled mustard with noodles was also particularly good.

NOODLE HEAVEN

3114 Great North Rd, New Lynn
Sichuan

If you’re not a Mandarin speaker, there might be some things lost in translation here. We don’t really mind that, though, because food is universal, right? Noodle Heaven has 26 noodle dishes on the menu, all of which range from $10-$14. What you get is worth that and more, as their hearty broths, hand-pulled noodles, and lap cheong (Chinese cured sausages) are all made in-house. Universally great.

At Noodle Heaven. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

PAASHA TURKISH KITCHEN

261 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden; 444 Glenfield Rd, Glenfield
Turkish

The first time we visited the new Paasha on Dominion Rd, we stared at the menu above our heads wondering how to order, before the manager waved for us to take a seat at one of the few tables in the tiny premises. We assumed he was about to bring us menus, but instead he brought out a platter of small portions of nearly every item on the menu — spicy shish kebabs of chicken and lamb, felafel with just the right amount of crunch, two warm bread options and a plethora of sauces and salads and condiments. We’ve ordered assertively ever since.

PARADISE INDIAN FOOD

591 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham
Mughlai

It’s hard to believe that after all these years, Paradise is still at the top of its game, churning out consistently good food seven days a week, 12 hours a day. But it is, and doing so while feeding more people than pretty much every other outlet on this list, with an unimaginably large number of menu items to juggle in the kitchen, plus a bakery arm now too. (“A machine,” one judge wrote in their notes.) We recommend those addictive lolly pop chicken pieces, the biryani and whatever curry you’re in the mood for.

PEACH’S HOT CHICKEN

100 Queens Rd, Panmure
Nashville

You go to Peach’s for one thing and one thing only — chicken. Whichever preparation you choose (sandwiches, quarters, wings) it is fried to perfection — crisp (but not too crunchy) on the outside and succulent on the inside — and comes as hot as you can (or can’t) handle. And don’t sleep on the sides. Move past the fries and try the collard greens. Or the pimento mac & cheese, if you need carbs to soften the cayenne explosion.
Top 10

PETRA SHAWARMA

482 New North Rd, Kingsland
Jordanian

Here’s our annual reminder that your visit to Petra Shawarma may be a little slow, but their food is fresh, vibrant and delicious, so chill out, sip on some tea and enjoy the warm hospitality. The shawarma is a reliable go-to (duh), with consistently flavoursome meat. For something more carb heavy, the mandi — their own family recipe — is dotted with lashings of raisins and cashew nuts and accompanied by a little hummus and yoghurt, adding a bit of zing.

RAMEN DO

167 Symonds St, Eden Terrace
Ramen/Japanese

What you get at Ramen Do is exactly what you expect: a bowl of comforting ramen, expertly executed, from the handmade noodles to the egg. However, there’s enough variety to keep you coming back, with the star of the show, the Hokkaido Miso, being supported by chicken paitan and bonito-based broths. This is one of our top picks for a solo meal, with a peacefulness that serves as a nice central city escape.
Top 10

RAMEN TAKARA

4 Anzac Rd, Browns Bay (also at 272 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby)
Ramen

The food scene chops and changes so fast in Auckland, Ramen Takara already feels like a North Shore institution that has fed loyal locals for ever and ever, despite opening doors to the Browns Bay branch in only 2007. Maybe it’s because it considers itself as having been established in 1978, the year that owner Yuki’s father founded his own ramen shop at the foot of Mount Fuji. Either way, the handmade noodles are fresh and bouncy, and the broth full of umami, just how ramen should be. Long may it reign.

ROOPS

489 Richardson Rd, Mt Roskill
Indian

Bright and early on a Saturday morning, you can spy a growing queue of aunties lining up for their morning fix of take-out sweets and snacks — a telling sign. Roops is known for having the best jalebi around, which we’re thankful for because they’re so damn good: a deep-fried pretzel-like snack, dipped in crystallised sugary syrup. If you like, you can buy them in bulk. Yes, there are savouries, too, including an excellent thali.

SALTWATER BURGER BAR

156 Church St, Onehunga
Burgers

It’s one thing to do classic burgers, but it’s another (much harder) thing to do them well. You want them fresh, big but not impossible to eat (i.e. without a million things in them), and sandwiched using soft buns which don’t disintegrate into the filling. Fortunately, that’s exactly how Saltwater does them: no-nonsense and honest. Plus, if you’re eating in, there’s a sweet little garden out the back with benches, bean bags and tables shaded by the trees that’s a perfect hangout spot.

SANTHIYA’S

1270 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
Malaysian-Indian

We’ve recently had the best mee goreng in Auckland at Santhiya’s, appropriately spicy, and less sweet than at other places. Good too are the range of Malaysian-Indian curries, a rare find in this city (yes, they do taste different), including chicken varuval, served tender on the bone. For a little snack, we go for the fried fish ($5), a steak marinated in spices then deep-fried, which can serve as a tasty side to nasi lemak.

SHANGHAI NOODLE HOUSE

898 New North Rd, Mt Albert
Shanghainese

Previously Tasty Takeaway, the best shengjianbao (fried mini pork buns) in the city live at this unassuming Mt Albert joint, where the bottoms are beautifully caramelised and crunchy, and the filling of pork is just a little sweet and a little brothy — a great way to spend a $5 note (and it will be a note; they only take cash). If that doesn’t quite fill you up, order the spicy pork on noodles, with that signature Shanghainese vinegary hit.

SHEFCO

46 Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill
Lebanese

Superior to its Dominion Rd counterpart, this Shefco serves Lebanese food of a very high standard. The hummus and baba “ghanouge” (as it reads on the menu) might be the best in the city, and the Chicken Mashawi piled into Lebanese bread is tasty and comforting. Portions are large, so a main to share between two with a couple of side dishes is probably more advisable than going it alone (which sounded great at the time but, ultimately a bad idea).

SPICY HOUSE

555 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Sichuan

Spicy House is a beloved institution on Dominion Rd, feeding late-night denizens as they come streaming in from town and hospo jobs till the early hours of the morning. We like how the specials are scrawled onto a classroom-sized whiteboard at the back wall, and a community of paper hearts from customers decorates the corner by the register. It’s best to dine here in a big group for their famous chilli chicken, pork hock and more besides.

SNEAKY SNACKY

Lim Chhour Food Court, 184 Karangahape Rd, Karangahape precinct
Burgers

The doughnut burgers of Lim Chhour have moved to that prime spot on the corner, with a vibrant storefront proudly emblazoned in Korean, Japanese and Chinese; through the street windows you can spy racks of doughnuts and busy chefs assembling the photogenic burgers, shiny and glazed, with a fine-dining precision. As the store’s grown, so has the menu, adding bowls of ramen and a hot chicken sando, the latter featuring their famous Nashville hot chicken on white bread. Gloves recommended.
Top 10

TANG DU STYLE

971 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
Northern Chinese

In that typical Chinese style of offering big sharing dishes for dinner and every-man-for-himself plates for lunch, Tang Du Style does it all (dumplings, noodles, fried rice, whole fish, oh my!) and does it well. That smoked chicken is divine, but there’s also a more interesting pig face (also smoked) to snack on, satisfying biangbiang noodles, and a sharing duck blood hotpot that hits the spot in winter

TANZ KTCHN

1 Piako St, Ōtara
Cook Islands

On a quiet suburban corner in Ōtara, Tanz Ktchn is constantly bustling with diners dropping in to take away boxes of its Tanz special: a loaded market plate of steak pieces covered in a creamy mushroom sauce, garlicky chop suey, rice and minus (pink potato salad). It’s hearty, satisfying, and most importantly, delicious. A bag of hot Cook Island doughnuts run at $5 for 10, and their banana poke (a sweet dessert, kind of like pudding), is worth ordering too.

TASTE OF SAMOA

3/24 Henderson Valley Rd, Henderson
Samoan

Stacks of canned mackerel, coconut milk and pineapple line the shelves of this part-takeaway, part-grocery, as well as bunches of green bananas which will likely later end up in a coconut sauce (fa’alifu fa’i). So you can do a little bit of shopping alongside your eating. Choose three options from the bain-marie for only $7 — think chop suey, pumpkin curry and povi masima (salted beef brisket). Good lamb buns, too.

At Taste of Samoa. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

TEOLBO

18 Beach Rd, central city
Korean

There’s really only one thing to eat here, and that’s the sundaeguk: a soup where the star ingredient is sundae, or Korean blood sausage, with other bits of off al chucked in. Sometimes, it’s referred to as ‘hangover soup’, done so because it’s the perfect cure after a long night out, which you might not initially expect of an off al-forward stew. But it is, and even more so when eaten alongside the accompanying array of generous banchan.

TIANZE DUMPLING HOUSE

695 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham
Northern Chinese

Tianze is all decked out in red-and-gold from the outside to the inside, where, charmingly, the decor feels of someone’s home — we’re a fan. We’re also a fan of the food, where the range of dishes is incredibly impressive, and whatever we order there rarely disappoints. In saying that, a trip here often involves a round of sizzling eggplant stuffed in pork, covered in batter then fried to a crispness, then off set by a plate of cold fern root noodles, slightly spicy and refreshing.

THE HANGI SHOP

583 Great South Rd, Ōtāhuhu
Māori

While nothing can beat the earthiness of kai cooked in an underground pit, The Hangi Shop gets pretty close, with all the usual suspects like kumara, pumpkin and stuff ing making up their generous hangi meal. What we really like, though, is the boil-up, which often comes with an epically sized pork spine (backbone) underneath a heap of watercress. It can make for messy eating, but, you know what? Worth it.

TIANFU NOODLES

477 Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket
Sichuan

There are a lot of places in Auckland slinging dishes similar to what you may find here, but what sets it apart is the complexity of their spicy sauces — delightfully numbing but flavourful, with an underlying sweetness. Their base broths spiked with chilli oil remain more or less the same across their offerings, but the toppings vary, with fistfuls of chives, pork intestines, beef tendons and chicken cartilages on off er. Their most popular dish, the slippery dumplings in spicy sauce, is a must try.

THE PLACE

Shop 10, 78/62 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna
Korean

The Place is the place for many things. For some people, it may be the place for a solo lunch and a cracking dolsot bibimbap, a classic Korean dish that sizzles until the rice scorches (they also do a vegetarian bibimbap here, with crispy tofu). For others, it could be the place for large family reunions, chopsticks reaching in for bo ssam (boiled pork belly), sticky fried chicken and huge, heaving hotpots of meat. Either way, The Place serves up consistently great Korean cooking across the board, so… it’s the place.

TRY IT OUT

79 Atkinson Ave, Ōtāhuhu
Vietnamese

We’ve been known to drain every drop of pho here, slurping up their bold and balanced stock that can only be achieved over a long period of time — but you already know about all that. If you want to branch out from the excellent pho, there’s also the ban xeo to get into, a savoury pork and prawn pancake with crispy edges that gets dipped into nuoc cham, and a bright squid salad. Get a drink to down for dessert, like the “traffic light” (che ba mau), a sweet coconut cream concoction.

UNCLE MAN’S

277 Karangahape Rd (also at The Eatery, Eastridge, and Southpoint, Manukau)
Malaysian

What hasn’t been written about Uncle Man’s roti canai? Rolled out, spun over and over, fried on a hot pan and fluff ed up right at the very end, it’s the best in Auckland whether with dhal, beef rendang, chicken curry, or even just on its own. The same dough is used for a whole lot of lesser-known filled varieties — murtabak is a favourite — and stretched out even further for the conical roti tissue, to be torn in pieces and dipped in condensed milk. Also good is the mee goreng and nasi ayam chicken, served alongside fragrant rice.
Top 10

WANG WANG SPRING PANCAKE

704 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Chinese

A block or two south of the usual Dominion Rd eateries, Wang Wang is fun. It’s fun to say its name and it’s fun to roll elements from its thoughtfully considered menu into fantastically thin, tasty pancakes (think Peking Duck if you’re struggling to visualise). If there’s a need for them, the dumplings here are no joke, either. Side note for romantics: The Kensington Dairy next door has the best selection of fresh cut flowers in the near west.

XI’AN FOOD BAR

11 Anzac Ave, Central City (also at 650 Dominion Rd, Balmoral; 11/945 New North Rd, Mt Albert; and 96 Rosedale Rd, Rosedale)
Shaanxi

It’s not uncommon to dine at Xi’an and overhear order after order for the number 37, the corresponding moniker for its famous hand-pulled noodles topped with Xi’an-style braised pork, all slippery and delicious. Let’s be honest, though those chewy noodles are the star of the show, you won’t regret sliding over and ordering the 87, with cumin lamb, or even 25, a completely vegetarian number that really highlights the noodles. Absolutely fantastic cucumber salad, too, by the way.
Top 10

ZOOL ZOOL

405 Mount Eden Rd, Mt Eden
Ramen/Japanese

If you’re dining at Zool Zool and hear the next-door neighbours engaged in some serious slurping, don’t be alarmed — the art of slurp is wholeheartedly endorsed on the Zool Zool menu, said to be a sign of appreciation, not a marker of rudeness (“Make some NOISE!!!”). All the classics are here, but their famous paitan (chicken broth) is still one of the best bowls you can get, and a seafood chanpon with soy milk broth is a good option for pescatarians. For dessert, we like the “cream caramel”.

At Wang Wang Spring Pancake. All photography by Samuel Hartnett.

Index by suburb

AVONDALE

MALAYSIAN RICE AND NOODLE HOUSE
57D Wolverton St

BLOCKHOUSE BAY

JAI JALARAM KHAMAN
39 Boundary Rd

CENTRAL CITY

TEOLBO
18 Beach Rd

KING MADE NOODLES
48 Fort St

MR TACO
64A Federal St

XI’AN FOOD BAR
11 Anzac Ave (also at 650 Dominion Rd, 11/945 New North Road, and 96 Rosedale Rd)

EAST TĀMAKI

DAAMSO
9/14 Bishop Lenihan Pl

EDEN TERRACE

RAMEN DO
167 Symonds St

GLEN EDEN

GOLD RIBBON
1 West Coast Rd

KL CAFE
7/4055 Great North Rd

GREY LYNN

IT’S JAVA
16 Vinegar Ln

HENDERSON

MOMO JUNCTION
Shop 2/360 Great North Rd

TASTE OF SAMOA
3/24 Henderson Valley Rd

KARANGAHAPE RD PRECINCT

UNCLE MAN’S
277 Karangahape Rd (also at The Eatery, Eastridge, and Southpoint, Manukau)

SNEAKY SNACKY
Lim Chhour Food Court, 184 Karangahape Rd

KINGSLAND

PETRA SHAWARMA
482 New North Rd

MT ALBERT

SHANGHAI NOODLE HOUSE
898 New North Rd

MT EDEN

CHONGQING NOODLES
340 Dominion Rd

EDEN NOODLES
105 Dominion Rd

GUILIN RICE NOODLES
263 Dominion Rd

HUAI YANG
302 Dominion Rd

JUST PLOVE
433 Dominion Rd

KIIN THAI UNDERGROUND KITCHEN
699 Mount Eden Rd

MR HAO
365 Dominion Rd

NEW FLAVOUR
537 Dominion Rd

PAASHA TURKISH KITCHEN
261 Dominion Rd; 444 Glenfield Rd, Glenfield

SPICY HOUSE
555 Dominion Rd

WANG WANG SPRING PANCAKE
704 Dominion Rd

ZOOL ZOOL
405 Mount Eden Rd

MT ROSKILL

ROOPS
489 Richardson Rd

SANTHIYA’S
1270 Dominion Rd

SHEFCO
46 Stoddard Rd

TANG DU STYLE
971 Dominion Rd

NEW LYNN

NOODLE HEAVEN
3114 Great North Rd

NEWMARKET

BAIFU DUMPLINGS
475 Khyber Pass Rd

TIANFU NOODLES
477 Khyber Pass Rd

NORTH SHORE

CHU LONG JI
11/20 Link Dr, Wairau Valley

RAMEN TAKARA
4 Anzac Rd, Browns Bay (also at 272 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby)

THE PLACE
Shop 10 78/62 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna

ONEHUNGA

SALTWATER BURGER BAR
156 Church St

ŌTĀHUHU

THE HANGI SHOP
583 Great South Rd

TRY IT OUT
79 Atkinson Ave

ŌTARA

TANZ KTCHN
1 Piako St

PANMURE

PEACH’S HOT CHICKEN
100 Queens Rd

PONSONBY

KHU KHU EATERY
171A Ponsonby Rd

ROYAL OAK

HAPPY CAFE
697 Manukau Rd

SANDRINGHAM

MUMBAI CHAAT
1A Kitchener Rd

PARADISE INDIAN FOOD
591 Sandringham Rd

TIANZE DUMPLING HOUSE
695 Sandringham Rd

KEBABISH
599 Sandringham Rd

Judges: Tze Ming Mok, May-Lee Wong, Charlotte Muru-Lanning, Alexia Santamaria, Anna King Shahab, Jean Teng, Henry Oliver and Ruby White

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