close button

The Best Cheap Eats in Auckland 2012: Part 2

Sep 28, 2012 Cheap Eats

The Best Cheap Eats in Auckland 2012: part one (A – L)

Malaysia Nonya

87 Picton St, Howick.
Nonya, or Peranakan, is the cuisine of Chinese Malays. It’s tangy, aromatic and spicy, and this restaurant is Auckland’s leading exponent. Order ahead for the Golden Pillow (curry inside a loaf) or the famous Hainanese chicken rice.

Malinee Thai

224 Pt Chevalier Rd, Pt Chevalier.
Sadly it’s just a tiny takeaway, but the vegetarian-only Malinee has all the attributes of great Thai food — really fresh ingredients, hot-hot chillies and memorable sauces. Try the mushroom laab.
Thai vegetarian

Mamak Malaysian

50 Kitchener St, CBD.   TOP 10
Owner Jeffrey greets diners with a huge smile and is happy to talk you through the menu, full of delicious things to eat. Unctuous, full-flavoured laksa, crispy soft-shelled crab, and flaky, freshly made roti. So good.

Mercury Lane Plaza

23-31 Mercury Lane, K’ Rd Precinct.
An old favourite food hall still going strong. Seek out, especially, the mee goreng from the Singaporean stand and the astonishingly good sushi from the Japanese.
Food hall

Middle East Cafe

23a Wellesley St West, CBD.   TOP 10
The arts precinct around Aotea Square is busier than ever, but the best little eatery servicing it is still — as it has been since 1980 — the Middle East. The chawarma is famous, but the rest of the menu is just fine too.
Middle Eastern

My Kitchen Express

119 Meadowland Drive, Howick.
Food from a Taiwanese night market — a mix of Cantonese and Japanese standards, with bubble tea thrown in for good measure.

Navas Cafe

14 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.
Love the curries, love the roti, love the service at one of Ponsonby’s best and most overlooked restaurants.

New Flavour

541 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden.
Wow. New Flavour, open, then closed, now reopened and pumping, serves around 2000 dumplings a day. Not to mention a mountain of steaming, savoury noodles. All handmade, and scrumptious.


100 Wellington St, Freemans Bay (also Botany).
Great food, with heaps to choose from, and great service, with all the showy trimmings — in an unpromising-looking but very popular location.

No 1 BBQ

1 Commerce St, CBD.
Delicious barbecue, oodles of noodles, dumplings and soup. It’s a utilitarian dining hall and the service is, well, functional, but the servings are just huge.

No 1 Pancake

Cnr Wellesly & Lorne Sts, CBD.
This hole-in-the-wall joint serves Korean hotteok, which aren’t really pancakes at all. Instead they’re flattened dumplings, stuffed with meat, cheese, veges, even chocolate, all for $2-$3 a pop. We just wish they’d stay open past the early evening.


10 Wellesley St East, CBD.
Nol-Bu-Ne has been dishing out the kimchi and meats for over a decade now, with generous portions and the usual free refills of kimchi, pickled turnip, seaweed, marinated potato and the rest.

Original California Burrito Company

8 Commerce St (and elsewhere).
Everything’s big and tasty in these big fat burritos: the beans, the rice, the crisp fresh salad, the spicy sauces, the yummy meats. The tacos and quesadillas ain’t half bad either.

Panda Noodle Express

463 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden.
It’s not much to look at, and lacks atmosphere, but the large selection of food boasts great flavours, huge portions and is very, very cheap.

Papa’s Pizza

61 Sandringham Rd, Kingsland.
A cosy and friendly pizza restaurant with lots of nooks and crannies — a brilliant first-date place with lots of nice touches: Kokako coffee, organic Italian wine, Peroni on tap. And the pizzas are delicious: baked to bubbly, crispy goodness.

Paradise BBQ Garden

2/51-61 Hobson St, CBD.
A Korean barbecue buffet where they’re great on the BBQ standards and also have some intriguing special dishes: soya bean pasta stew, anyone?

Paradise Indian Food

591 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham.
No overly sweet “Kiwi-style” Indian here: just fresh, clean flavours, with no shortcuts. Try the house speciality, Hyderbadi biriyani, cooked dum style (steamed over coals).
South Indian

Ponsonby International Food Court

106 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.
The big argument among our judges was over which particular stall is the most outstanding. Suffice to say, most of them have their fans, and the Ponsonby Food Court is now — by some margin — our favourite food hall in the city. Nice place, knockout food.
Food hall

Ramen Daikoku

Tyler St, Britomart (also Victoria St).   TOP 10
We’re terribly fond of the basic ramen, but we should add that the curry ramen is a wondrous thing too. And while we’ve always loved the spartan setup at Britomart, we do accept that the Victoria St West branch is a tad more comfortable.

Ramen Do

167 Symonds St, Newton.
Ramen enthusiasts rave about the quality of the stock — hell, the quality of everything — at Ramen Do. The spicy prawn miso ramen is especially glorious.


10 Durham St, CBD (and elsewhere).
Glossy rice-based donburi and silky udon soups are the perfect nutritious fast foods, and Renkon does them well, with a good variety of toppings.


40 Beach Rd, CBD.
Vietnamese food is characterised by clean, vigorous herbal flavours, and Saigonz has them in spades. Cosy, friendly and ridiculously cheap.


15 Princes St, Otahuhu.
Housed in an old car showroom, Samwoo is a big, rundown old thing. But it’s packed with Vietnamese expats and locals — no wonder, when the food is this good. Try the pho: delicate, clear and delicious.

Sanchun Bamboo

9 Commerce St, CBD.
A small and very charming Korean restaurant where the food has a wonderful home-cooked feel.

Santhiya ’s South Indian & Malaysian

1270 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill.
No frills and fabulous: the roti are light, buttery and flaky, the rendang bursting with flavour, the service wonderfully friendly.
Malaysian/South Indian


1278 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill.
Recently opened in the Mt Roskill shopping area, this small restaurant is incredibly good value. They serve huge and exquisite thalis for $12.50 with real points of difference such as yoghurt soup and chaas (buttermilk) side dishes.
Indian vegetarian


17 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn (and K’ Rd, Mt Eden and Sandringham).   TOP 10
The standard of Indian food in Auckland is on the rise, but Satya, with its South Indian focus — less creamy and more attentively spiced than the Mughal traditions of the north — is still the benchmark. Great for a sitdown meal or takeaway, for a quite dinner or a group celebration.
South Indian


487 Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket.
There’s a reason Selera is full every night of the week. Actually, there’s a number, starting with the phenomenal laksa and moreish chao kuay teow. The perfect place for a quick bite before a movie.

7 Siri Taste of Sri Lanka

580 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham.
If Sri Lankan food is a mystery, ask Nandasiri and Ramani Alwis — they’ll be happy to talk you through the menu. The lump rice, wrapped in a banana leaf and served with a selection of curries, is truly delicious.
Sri Lankan

Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles

636 Dominion Rd, Balmoral.   TOP 10
They hand-pull the noodles on the premises — behind a glass screen in the main dining area — and the results are astonishing. A bowl of these and you may just be unable to bear eating any others. And the meat is good too: lamb, a rarity in most Kiwi Chinese restaurants, features heavily. Try the cumin-spiced kebabs.
Northern Chinese

Shefco Cedar Bakery

827 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill.
We’ll say it: this place is our pick for the best kebabs in town. You’ll need several visits to verify that with all the different options on the menu.
Middle Eastern


520-524 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham.
It’s got an almost garagey feel to look at, but don’t let that put you off: Shubh offers a simple line-up of healthy home-style curries cooked remarkably well.
North Indian

Sri Mahkota

164a Great South Rd, Epsom (also East Tamaki and Newton).
Malaysian standards served with remarkable flair, in a restaurant chain owned by the Vietnamese family who run the Hansan group. Try the nasi lemak: classical and delightful.

Sri Pinang

356 Karangahape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct.   TOP 10
In an immaculate dining room, Sri Pinang serves hot and dry beef rendang curry, a lunchtime roti curry for $7 that’s fantastic value, and laksa and mee goreng that are not to be missed. An institution.

Sri Puteri’s

59 Queens Rd, Panmure.
Under new management in the past couple of years, Sri Puteri’s has continued to produce classic Malaysian and South Indian dishes and is still one of the standout restaurants on a street where many would like to claim that honour.
South Indian/Malaysian

Tanpopo Ramen

13 Anzac Ave, CBD.
Ramen bars are not as exotic as they used to be, but Tanpopo is one of a handful still producing excellent noodle soups. Don’t forget the gyoza dumplings as a side.
Japanese ramen

Tasty Noodles

919 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill.
Another astonishingly good purveyor of hand-pulled noodles. We love the spicy stewed-beef noodle soup and the pork, mushroom, tofu and prawn noodles with gravy.
Northern Chinese

Tasty Takeaway (aka Little Fatty)

898 New North Rd, Mt Albert.
You can’t come to Little Fatty (that’s the name, in Mandarin, in the window) without trying the shengjian bao — fried buns filled with pork and hot, gelatinous stock. They’re delicious, and only $4 for four.

Thai Peninsula

80 Gunner Drive, Te Atatu Peninsula.
A great neighbourhood restaurant in a neighbourhood sadly short of them. Warm, friendly service and a lovely vibe. Try the garlic squid.

Thai Yum Food Hut

23 Birkenhead Ave, Birkenhead.
Super-cheap Thai food? In Birkenhead? It’s true, and Thai Yum serves huge portions of incredibly good food. There’s hardly any seating, so unless you strike it lucky, prepare to take away.

That’s Amore

Level 2, 42 High St, CBD
Authentic Neapolitan pizza tucked under the Metropolis building. Pizzaiolo Alessandro Bollino sure knows his dough, and doesn’t get kooky with the toppings on his 43 different pizzas.


598 New North Rd, Kingsland.
This isn’t the place for obscure regional specialities, but the usual North Indian offerings are done really well: fresh, tasty and vibrant. Service is lovely and informative. The ideal local Indian.
North Indian

Top Cafe

7/30 Upper Queen St, Newton.
Thank the stars, it’s back. The Ti Xiang Dumpling House, closed for almost a year, recently reopened with a new name, but the same incredibly tasty food. Twenty dumplings, steamed or fried, will cost you only about $8.

Totó Pizza

51-53 Nelson St, CBD.
Totó’s metre-long pizzas are a cult favourite for gatherings of all sorts. You can eat in, too. Either way, these pizzas are spectacularly good and incredible value, with a metre ($40-$50) easily good for four.

Turkish Cuisine

193 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
The Turkish-born husband-and-wife team behind the counter also trade as Turkish Bazaar, a familiar name at farmers’ markets around town. In other words, they know their stuff. We love the lamb iskender.

Velvet Burger

18 Fort St, CBD.
The blokey Kiwi branding may feel a bit out of place in the big smoke but this Dunedin-bred burger joint delivers where it counts: with huge juicy burgers. A polished-wood fitout and (limited) liquor licence encourage you to stay awhile.


Metropolis Building, 1 Courthouse Lane, CBD.
Hovering above High St like a cloud, the light, glassy CBD branch of this global chain offers crowd-pleasing, tasty Asian treats. And where else can you ride on an outdoor escalator?

Wang Wang Spring Pancake

704 Dominion Rd, Balmoral.
In northern China the first day of spring is celebrated by “biting the spring” — eating pancakes stuffed with meat or vegetables. Try this unique cuisine at Wang Wang. A couple of dishes and a pile of pancakes should be plenty for two.
Northern Chinese

White Lady

18 Commerce St, CBD.
Sixty-three years young and still going strong, the White Lady serves the night owls of Auckland into the wee hours seven nights a week without missing a beat. The burgers here are still among the best in town, and the toastie sarnies are also hard to beat.
Burgers & takeaways

Yuzu Japanese

145 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.
The miso is bursting with flavour, the eggplant don perfectly cooked and so tasty, and the teriyaki tofu shows why you should never put up with bland tofu. Health nuts will appreciate the brown- rice option.


639 Dominion Rd, Balmoral (also CBD).
Zap 2, part of an inspired chain, is newly refurbished and serves fresh, mouth-watering Essan Thai tastes to tantalise and beguile. Others, take note!

The Best Cheap Eats in Auckland 2012: part one (A – L)


Latest issue shadow

Metro N°442 is Out Now.

In the Autumn 2024 issue of Metro we celebrate the best of Tāmaki Makaurau — 100 great things about life in Auckland, including our favourite florist, furniture store, cocktail, basketball court, tree, make-out spot, influencer, and psychic. The issue also includes the Metro Wine Awards, the battle over music technology company Serato, the end of The Pantograph Punch, the Billy Apple archives, a visit to Armenia, viral indie musician Lontalius, the state of fine dining, and the time we bombed West Auckland to kill a moth. Plus restaurants, movies, politics, astrology, and more.

Buy the latest issue