Best Cheap Eats 2015: Balmoral
8/583 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
“Banzai” translates as “hurrah!” Which is what you’ll squeal once you score a table here. Banzai does an exemplary take on prawn tempura sushi roll, while the karaage chicken ticks all the right fried-fowl boxes. Add miso soup and a few slugs of warmed house sake and you’re set. Closed Mondays.
571 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Newly renovated and expanded, and busier than ever, Barilla is the beating heart of the Dominion Rd/Balmoral precinct. Why? Maybe it’s the big fat juicy pork-and-fennel dumplings, or maybe it’s those fried french beans with spicy salt. Don’t forget to take some frozen dumplings home with you.
541 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
A frontrunner in the Dominion Rd dumpling wars, New Flavour is always busy. Try the 20 different dumpling flavours, but don’t stop there. The salads are great: cucumber and sliced dried tofu; shredded potato; mixed vegetable with peanuts. Other dishes also beckon: a terrific fried eggplant with sticky toppings, the spring onion pancake, the deep-fried chicken strips with cumin. And for afters, there’s an excellent sweet bean paste pancake.
596 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Ras Vatika has been serving its super-cheap vegetarian delights in the same spot on Dominion Rd for 14 years. The masala dosa is great, and so are the generous thalis, and the street snacks come with generous servings of fresh herbs. When available, the patra (taro leaf rolls) are a highlight, and you should definitely try the pistachio-sprinkled rose lassi. Textures are varied, portions filling.
708 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
The food here uses plenty of Sichuan peppercorns, which are numbing and almost ticklish rather than burning. Try the BBQ fish with spicy sauce: it’s grilled and immersed in piquant chilli oil, and arrives in a deep dish with a burner underneath. It goes very well with the house-made pancakes. The spice is addictive: you’ll pick at it long after you’re full.
SHAOLIN KUNG FU NOODLES
636 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
The sound of noodle dough banging on the kitchen counter greets you at Shaolin: be sure to order something with “hand-pulled” noodles in it. The food is heavily influenced by the cuisine of Henan, which in turn is very Muslim — not what you think of as Chinese food. We’re pretty fond of the Xinjiang noodles fried with cumin and lamb and chilli; the kung fu soup, meanwhile, with chunks of lamb and those noodles, is brilliant. Also at 486 Queen St in the central city.
TOP TEN THAI
237 Balmoral Rd, Balmoral
Back in Balmoral but thinking, maybe not more dumplings right now? Top Ten offers a good Thai alternative, with crisp, fresh flavours and that lovely way the sweet and the sharp play through each other in all good Southeast Asian food. It’s mainly takeaway with a few tables.
WANG WANG SPRING PANCAKE
704 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Wrap it and eat it! You order a few finely chopped meat or veggie stir-fries, wrap them all up in a freshly made soft spring pancake and enjoy. No rice needed at this popular and one-of-a-kind Auckland eatery, because those pancakes are tasty and addictive.