Best Cheap Eats 2016: Eden Terrace/Mt Eden/Dominion Rd
583 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Banzai has become a favourite among those with young kids — drawn by the tub of Potato Heads, creatively presented sushi and BYO wine status affording a delicious and cheap night out. Raw tuna sushi comes generously loaded here, but one of our favourites is the virtuous, crunchy green-green sushi — such a great dish for the start of spring.
Vegetarian friendly, licensed, BYO
571 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
There’s a simple reason there’s often a bit of a wait for a table at Barilla: their dumplings are little pillows of joy. Not-to-miss fillings include beef and carrot — slightly sweet, with a meaty presence — and pork and fennel, dancing between savoury and perfumed, the fennel balancing the fattiness of the pork.
Northern Chinese, vegetarian friendly, open late
183 Symonds St, Eden Terrace
Allan Jung’s Bian makes the best sushi in town. We love the salmon inari, with fresh Marlborough salmon and tartare sauce. Three new items have been added to the udon menu: chicken, beef or prawn yaki don with stir-fried noodles. Their potato croquette, especially with the Bian tartare sauce, is highly recommended.
Japanese, vegetarian friendly
454 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Owners Amy and William Law know their clientele well and tailor most of the menu accordingly, hence the success of their chicken and lamb curries, rendang and assam curry fish, butter prawns and sambal eggplant. Their Hainanese chicken rice, a recent menu addition, is a drawcard in itself — the tenderly poached chicken served with special steamed rice and all the condiments is already one of the best around. Cinta Malaysian now offers lunch.
105 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
You may have to queue out the door on this windy strip of Dominion Rd, but when you do get a table, it’s worth it. We can almost never go past the dan dan noodles, or the dumplings, in a spicy, sweet pool of chilli oil. The Chinese pickles on the side are a great call, too.
GOGO MUSIC CAFE
559 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Dinner at Gogo is quite the experience. Skewers are barbecued in the open kitchen, steam billowing out. The country-and-western murals and décor give you plenty to look at, and the big bottles of Chinese beer are cheap. Spicy Xinjiang chicken comes out in a huge bowl for your table to share; look out for bones and offal among the dried chillis and fat noodles. It’s fun for a group, and it’s open late, too.
Sichuan, BYO, open late, new listing
GOLDEN BARBECUE NOODLE HOUSE
296D Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Consistently dishing up fresh, uncomplicated Cantonese flavours, Golden Barbecue is one of the best of the city’s dwindling barbecue joints. It’s as great for a quick $10 fill of roast pork on rice as it is for a big shared spread with family or friends — the green beans are some of the best in the city, the crispy squid is right on and the combination claypot is pure piping-hot, slippery comfort.
Cantonese, new listing
660 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
As well as hand-shaved noodles, hot pots and, of course, barbecue, Jiuzhou BBQ serves Dezhou chicken, a fried and aromatic braised dish. It’s their specialty, all the way from Shandong province, and cooked from a recipe dating back more than 300 years. There are ample toys, too, to keep the kids happy.
Shandong, vegetarian friendly, open late, new listing
248 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
This Dominion Rd stalwart has, in our opinion, been serving Auckland’s best xiao long bao (dumplings filled with soup) since 2002. The chef has since changed, but the commitment to authentic Shanghai cuisine, which is typically defined by its sweetness, has remained. Try the wonton soup and the cold Shanghai duck, or simply let owner Lei “Kelvin” Zhang guide you through the menu.
Shanghainese, licensed, BYO
Kiss Kiss. Photo: Josh Griggs.
1A Rocklands Ave, Balmoral
Breakfast, lunch or dinner, Kiss Kiss has got you covered. We love their spiced sticky ribs and whole deep-fried snapper. The pad thai, which nails the balance of hot, sour and sweet, is filled with huge chunks of prawn rather than shrimpy little shrimps. Bonus: you read the drinks lists through an actual View Master. It’s almost too old-school cool.
Thai, vegetarian friendly, licensed, new listing
MT EDEN VILLAGE FISH SHOP
438 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden
Justin Pilkington, former owner of Oceanz Seafood at Farro Fresh in Mt Wellington, has been behind the deep fryer here since May. He clearly knows his snapper, tarakihi and gurnard, encased in light-as-air batter (grilled or crumbed are also options).There’s always a fish of the day — perhaps gemfish, trevally or blue warehou — and anything from the seafood cabinet can be cooked up if you fancy. Big fluffy chips, and a few little crunchy ones, complete the hot steaming parcel. Fish and chips to cross town for.
Fish and chips
541 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
This famous dumpling house is as popular as ever, and deservedly so. Choose from 23 different varieties of house-made dumplings, but also try dishes like spicy pork mince on hand-pulled noodles, braised eggplant with sweet, garlicky brown sauce and the tofu and cucumber salad. If there’s room at the end, the kumara in hot toffee is also delicious.
Northern chinese, vegetarian friendly, BYO, open late
251 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
While stir-fry classics such as pad thai don’t disappoint here, it’s off the beaten track where things really get interesting. Try the tangy and fragrant gai takai (chicken thigh with lemongrass and chilli paste) and you’ll know it.
Thai, vegetarian friendly
PANDA NOODLE EXPRESS
463 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
While neighbouring restaurants might be sitting empty, Panda Noodle is packed with regulars tucking into hot pots and steaming bowls of soup. A mild casserole with string beans, pork mince and noodle soup gets your tastebuds zinging, while kong pao chicken, dumplings and fried rice dishes keep the whole family sweet.
Northern Chinese, new listing
167 Symonds St, Eden Terrace
The stock is some of the finest around, the toppings very generous and the egg yolk perfectly soft. Ramen Do has a calm feel about it: the kitchen and counter hum along without fuss, and the room, adorned with kooky realist cross-stitching, is often quite quiet save the sound of slurping, despite the fact it’s always full. Here, you needn’t spend more than $14 to feel full, though splurging on $18 braised-pork-belly ramen is worth the extra few dollars.
Japanese, vegetarian friendly
596 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
There are no cream- and sugar-laden curries on the menu at this vegetarian Indian cafe. Instead, you’ll find authentic chaat (street snacks), generous thalis, and quite possibly the city’s best dosas (ask for the special masala one). Another must-try is the patra — a Gujarati specialty of rolled, stuffed taro leaves served with sweet tamarind sauce. Seriously good and seriously cheap.
North Indian, vegetarian friendly
SHAOLIN KUNG FU NOODLE
636 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
The restaurant with the best name in the whole city also has some of the best hand-pulled noodles, best spicy lamb dishes and some pretty fine flatbreads, too. The owners are from Henan and their cooking is influenced by the foods of the local Muslim community. Slip into a wooden stall or search for a table upstairs, and ready yourself for savoury delights. We’re very keen on the fried noodles with lamb, cumin and chilli. Also at 486 Queen St in the central city.
Northern Chinese, open late
SHA XIAN SNACK
285 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Sha xian snacks are delicacies from Sha county in Fujian province, southeast China. The cuisine is famous for dumplings and other bite-size foods, very light broths and also spicy options. And this eatery is famous for its service, which is fast and very friendly. We specially love the spicy beef noodles, with big tender hunks of meat and a deliciously rich broth. Hand-torn noodles cost a dollar more.
Fujian, new listing
557 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Spicy House isn’t one of the biggest names in the Balmoral shops, and it’s a pretty simple box of a room to sit in, too. But don’t let any of that put you off. Their chive dumplings are outstanding and the rest of the menu isn’t far behind. And those big wall signs advertising special intestine dishes? Be brave. You won’t regret it.
Sichuan, vegetarian friendly, open late
702 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
If you find yourself wandering down Dominion Rd and don’t fancy dumplings, go and see Stumpy. His woodfired pizzas are a thing of joy; smoky, chewy and crispy all at the same time. Go for the buffalo mozzarella — it’s worth the extra couple of dollars — and the prosciutto is a highlight.
Pizza, vegetarian friendly
TOP TEN THAI
235B Balmoral Rd, Balmoral
The fact this is a small place — it’s a bit like walking into someone’s home — means takeaways are the best option. Try pad kra prow (beef stir-fry with Thai basil), which comes with a side of fresh minced chilli, providing the perfect mix of heat, fragrance and flavour.
Thai, vegetarian friendly
342 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
Opened in early 2016, this family-run restaurant has a refreshingly short menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes. There’s home-style pho and banh mi but the hero is the bun bo Hue — a sour, sweet, salty and spicy beef noodle soup. Hot Vietnamese filter coffee with condensed milk is available, too, as well as whole rosebud petal tea.
Vietnamese, licensed, new listing
WANG WANG SPRING PANCAKE
704 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
In a strip full of dumplings and hand-pulled noodles, a lighter dinner can be found at Wang Wang Spring Pancake. As the name suggests, you purchase a pile of pancakes — perfectly thin and light — and then pick your fillings. The Peking pork is a favourite; it’s rich and unctuous and offset perfectly with raw spring onion on the side. We love it.
241 Dominion Rd, Balmoral
A ukulele hangs on one log-cabin-esque wall in this small Japanese restaurant, and if you’re lucky, the owner might give it a strum as you eat. The food’s traditional, with a menu of well-priced bento boxes, donburi and noodles, plus sushi so fresh the colours shine, and available to take away from the street-side window. The okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) is particularly flavoursome.
405 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden
Almost every region of Japan has its own version of ramen, and at Zool Zool — sister eatery to Metro Top 50 restaurant Kazuya — there are six classic variations to try, alongside wines chosen to complement each flavour. Izakaya-style snacks and “Zool Men” — reduced broth noodles — are equally great.
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