Best Cheap Eats 2015: Epsom, Mt Roskill, Newmarket and Royal Oak
Nanam. Photo: Simon Young
Tulja Centre, 190 Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill
Bebeta Asfaw opened the brightly coloured Cafe Abyssinia after years of driving a taxi and now serves up classic Ethiopian stews and curries, with yeasty enjera. The welcome is warm and the food is fab: try the savoury and slightly sour doro wot, chicken marinated in lime juice and simmered with berbere spice; the kitfo (a spicy tartare) is brilliant. Better yet: ask them to bring you a selection.
GREENWOODS FRESH CATCH
1 Pah Rd, Epsom
Go for the perfect chips and fresh fish, packed in card to avoid a soggy fate, but also go because we think owner Thomas Ng is one of the loveliest, happiest people on Earth. Almost 80 now, he’s been cooking for more than six decades and still hand-picks his fish from the market.
Fish and chips
KK MALAYSIAN CUISINE (Top 10)
463A Manukau Rd, Epsom
One of Auckland’s longest-serving Malaysian outlets and still one of the best — and most authentic. Favourites like mee goreng and laksa are excellent if you’re dining solo or taking away, but if you’re in a group, make sure you feast on dishes like whole Assam fish, braised garlic eggplant and the irresistible deep-fried tofu doused in cucumber, peanuts and a sweet chilli sauce.
205 Great South Rd, Greenlane
The menu here is similar to that of sister restaurant Selera (see below) but it has been tweaked to include customer requests such as beef noodle soup, steamed pork dumplings and some vegetarian options. Selera’s famous curry laksa is also on offer (chicken, seafood or vegetable). Extensive rice dishes — from fried to Mama village rice, pandan chicken rice, and dirty rice, as well as Hainanese chicken rice — are other popular options.
NANAM (Top 10)
126 Symonds St, Royal Oak
The food at Nanam is Filipino; more specifically, it’s the fusion of Asian and Spanish known as Pinoy, and it’s magnificent. Must-tries include taco pao (sticky pulled pork, homemade Nanam buns and condiments), roast chicken sinigang (half a roast chicken in pieces served with a grilled eggplant salsa and watercress purée) and the broccoli side. Take some friends and have a feast.
SAKE BAR NIPPON
415 Manukau Rd, Epsom
Quiet date night? Forget it. From the booming of the taiko drum to the rousing “Irassaimase!” welcome, your quest for zen — and romance — may lie elsewhere. The huge menu spans all the usual suspects (skewers, sushi, sashimi et al), with plenty of fries and grills too. Like the hefty cabbage, bacon and prawn okonomiyaki (pancake), which is perfect for soaking up sake. Set menus suit larger groups, and party animals love the karaoke.
1270 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
With owners who hail from Ipoh in Malaysia, Santhiya’s serves both South Indian and traditional Malaysian dishes. We find it hard to go past the fragrant roti canai with chicken, and the house speciality, goat curry, is excellent too. If you’re after a feast, go on Sundays, when they serve all-you-can-eat rice and curry on banana leaf.
487 Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket
Join the crowds and share a table as you slurp up Selera’s rich and flavourful laksa. We’re also very fond of the char kueh tiaw (stir-fried flat rice noodles with shrimp, Chinese sausage, eggs, bean sprouts and chives), which has the true slightly charred aroma of this hawker dish.
164D Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill
Marghoob, the charming owner of this hole in the wall, is from Uttar Pradesh, known for its rich, spicy Mughlai cuisine; biryani is a typical dish and his is a killer. Most dishes are made to order so you have to wait a bit, but add a fresh, tandoor-baked naan and chuck in a few pickles and you’ll still get change from $20. Closed Wednesday.
919 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
It’s back from the road, near the petrol station, not much to look at and dominated by the loud TV on the wall. But they make their own hand-pulled noodles (you have to specify), and the soup is among the finest our judges ate while putting
together this list. As for the prawn, chives and egg dumplings, they’re a big-
1001 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
Braised pork is a specialty here: soft, tender and best enjoyed in a casserole with fresh steamed flat buns and complimentary purple rice congee. Don’t overlook the tasty cold starter dishes, though, such as pork hock with cucumber and mixed mushroom garlic salad. They also offer a large collection of Chinese wine and traditional Tianjin dishes.
1238 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill
Hunan food is spicy and fragrant, not unlike Sichuan, except it focuses more on chilli and garlic and does not include Sichuan peppers. “Dry pot” dishes signify that the food is “purely” hot, rather than Sichuan tongue-numbingly hot. Zheng Kee has a big menu, but it’s pretty hard to go past those dry pots: smoked pork with pressed dry tofu sound good?