Sep 28, 2012 Cheap Eats
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
14 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.
Love the curries, love the roti, love the service at one of Ponsonby’s best and most overlooked restaurants.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!