Metro’s recommendations for the Best Cheap Eats in Auckland (under $20) came out recently in the September 2013 issue and I’ve been trying to work my way through as many of the restaurants as I can over the last six weeks. I thought I’d do a quick round up of the places I’ve been to so far and how they were.
Bun Hut (Dominion Road) – we had the steamed pork buns with cabbage and chives as well as the pan fried pork dumplings with cabbage and chives, a bowl of noodles with gravy, a chive pancake and a chive and egg pancake. The restaurant is very bare bones but the dumplings and pork buns are stuffed full of delicious juicy meat. The pancakes were soft and tasty and the noodles were smothered with a tasty gravy and really good value for $5.
Mamak Malaysian (Chancery, Central Auckland) – I had the chicken murtabak which is a roti stuffed with meat, then pan fried until crispy. It comes with chicken gravy, fish gravy, Dahl and cabbage. My friend had the seafood laksa. The murtabak was delicious and crispy with tasty gravy, although a little bit meat heavy for me, next time I might try the vegetable version or go halves with someone else in two dishes. My friend enjoyed his laksa too, saying it was very tasty and not too coconutty as some laksa can be.
Sanchun Bamboo (Commerce Street, Auckland Central) – I had the vegetarian Bibimbap, which is a rice based dish which comes in a hot stone bowl with a variety of vegetables, chilli bean paste and a raw egg cracked on top. When the food is all mixed up, the egg cooks and the rice goes crispy from the heat of the bowl. It came with a variety of Korean side dishes including Kimchi, bean sprouts, potatoes and an egg dish. The food was all fresh and delicious and I was offered top ups of my side dishes even though I couldn’t finish my Bibimbap.
Selera (Khyber Pass, Newmarket) – this place has in my opinion the best laksa in Auckland. The char kway teow is also delicious as are the curry puffs and the rotis.
Sri Puteri’s (Queens Road, Panmure) – offering a combination of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian dishes. We had the seafood laksa, the char kway teow and the roti with chicken gravy, fish gravy and dhal. The roti was amazing, probably the best roti I’ve had, soft, light and crispy, the laksa was tasty but the char kway teow was bland and disappointing.
Tanpopo Ramen (Anzac Ave, Auckland Central) – A large menu of many different types of ramen. All contain the same fresh, homemade noodles and there is a range of soup bases to choose from. I had the Miso Tonkotsu Ramen which is a pork and miso based soup with noodles, BBQ pork, vegetables, bamboo shoots and dried seaweed. The soup was rich and hearty, the noodles fresh and the whole dish warming and nourishing.
Wok N Noodle Bar (Normanby Road, Mt Eden) – A lot more modern and westernised than the majority of other Asian places around. The menu is huge and the size of the meals even bigger. The food is more fusion style and they serve a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian. I had the Pad see u which is thick rice noodles with chicken, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and egg in a homemade sweet soya sauce. The dish was filling, fresh and tasty.
Velvet Burger (Fort Street, CBD) – Velvet burger is a gourmet style burger franchise that originated in Dunedin. The burgers are huge and they pride themselves on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. We ordered a range of burgers including The Squawk Dawg (standard beef burger), Velvet Burger (venison with pineapple and chilli mayonnaise), Homegrown (lamb with either chutney or a minty yogurt sauce), The Babe (crumbed chicken with pineapple and bacon) and the Animal Rights (a kumara and coriander patty with beetroot and a minty yogurt sauce). All the burgers come with salad, aioli and Velvet relish. We also tried their wedges, kumara chips, hashies and fries. Our burgers were a little bit cold by the time we got them home to eat but they were still delicious and would have been even better if we had been able to eat them fresh and hot.
Tiffin (New North Road, Kingsland) – Tiffin cooks excellent North Indian curries with the usual suspects such as butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and korma all covered. They also do a few more unusual dishes including a mango chicken curry. My favourite is the mushroom saag, mushrooms cooked in a thick, rich spinach gravy, usually accompanied by a garlic naan.
Renkon (Ponsonby, Parnell, Takapuna and the CBD) – an old favourite with fresh, healthy Japanese style donburi meals available. All dishes are available on either rice or udon noodles and all main dishes are priced at $11.50.
Ramen Do (Symonds Street, Auckland) – Fresh, homemade ramen noodles which are worlds away from any instant ramen you have at home, these noodles are tender but still chewy and incredibly fresh. This is the place that changed my perception of ramen noodles as a cheap unhealthy snack.
Han San Vietnamese (Newmarket, Panmure, CBD and Glenfield) – another old favourite that I’ve been going to for many years. Fresh, healthy tasting Vietnamese food. The vermicelli salads with either lemongrass chicken or fried pork spring rolls and shredded pork are my favourites. Although I’ve been a bit disappointed recently and have been finding the food a bit bland. They could do with using more fresh herbs like many of the Vietnamese restaurants overseas do to liven up the food and really bring it to life.