My ‘taste’ for food spots (what a pun) is the middle bit of a venn diagram where affordable, yummy and good atmosphere overlap.
A lot of people have asked me what my favourite place is to eat or recommendations, but I always find it such a hard question. What are you craving ? How much do you want to spend? What do you prioritise, coolness or tasty food? Do you hate pork? There’s no one size fits all.
Even with me, there is no way that an expensive food place is going to be my fave. I also don’t really care about pasta. That’s why when the rest of Auckland love Amano, I’m like eh. I will definitely go, but not my first choice. These places are mostly in Central Auckland.
But if you also want:
- nice vibes
Here are my top picks as someone who is obsessedddd with food. Also I am a typical Chinese gworl, vibes are last on the list for me, tasty and affordable are the most important things.
In no particular order:
In front of the Dominion Road Countdown is Petaling, who do amazing Malaysian food, which not many people seem to know what that is. Think laksas, amazing deep fried meats in curries and dry spices to the max and noodles that are savoury, slick and so satisfying.
I like everything but the badong sauce here, but my favourite dishes are:
- Wat dan hor aka rice noodles in egg gravy (seen in pic above). So so underrated
- Anything in the sambal sauce – fish fillets in sambal sauce is so yommy
- Kam heong (which I think translates to gold fragrant and its true bc it so YOM) flavouring: kam heong chicken is good
- Laksa: duh! All the flavours are delicious, creamy and rich but the fish head laksa is deep fried which makes it TASTY. It’s basically fried fish!
2. Bunga Raya, New Lynn by Lynnmall Post Office
For me, Malaysian food is like extremely flavourful Chinese influenced dishes so it’s like taking flavours I’m comfortable with and elevating it to the next level.
Bunga Raya don’t have that much space, so booking for dinner is needed. Eat Lit Food loves this place.
Faves to get at Bunga Raya are:
- Their kam heong deep fried squid goes crraaazzzzy so good
- Mei foo tofu: crispy deep fried but really soft egg tofu absorbing their savoury x1000 sauce. Tasting is believing because this description is bad
I have been to many a café, and I think I like Crave the best? It is a question mark because I say it because it feels right, not because I’m a diehard. I love the mural, the vibe, the aesthetic and also how well they organise themselves. I’ve been to some shitty cafes half their size who can’t seat their customers, but Crave do it so well.
Get anything but the gumbo (which currently isn’t on the menu).
If you want to taste my soul, Golden Garden is exactly what it’ll taste like because they specialise in Cantonese dinner dishes. Canton is a region in the South of China and where my family is from, so all the flavours and dishes that I’ve eaten at family weddings, visiting China, family celebrations and gatherings, that my parents have recreated at home and have fed me since birth, are based on Cantonese food.
Fun fact: yum cha and Chinese takeaway dishes are from Canton/Southern China, because it’s where most of the early migration from China comes from. All these newer spicy noodles, mala flavouring and hotpots are actually from Northern China that have my parents bamboozled too. Spice is not on any of my family’s tables, unlike in Northern China were chilli is mandatory.
My and my fam’s favourite dishes:
- Peking duck: crispy duck skin, sweet and smoky hoisin, pancake and PRAWN CRACKER? Ideal ideal
- Peking sauce pork chops: the extremely superior sweet and sour alternative that real Cantonese people like
- Tofu seafood hotpot/casserole: This is how you do tofu properly, it tastes so good and the tofu is actually the best part of the ddissshhh
- Eggplant and salt fish hotpot/casserole: this sounds heinous in English but is so savoury, deep and the perfect perfect friend for rice
Honourable mention to BBQ Duck Cafe in the city!
So basically this is becoming a list of Asian places, and yes, I am biased. Why do you think most food lists are predominately European/pasta places? It’s unconscious bias of the writer. I am OF COURSE going to find meat skewers covered in spicy savoury salt more tasty than a chicken schnitty.
If you like Lucky 8, save your money and get more bang for your buck with bigger portions are Mr. Hao, who are owned by the same people. Their drinks are pretty affordable too!
- The chilli chicken (nibbles if you don’t mind bones!)
- Seafood platter
- Bread skewer oh my gah
- Honey chicken skewer oh yas
- Soup dumpling
6. Satya Chai Lounge Sandringham
I do admit I have not been to many Indian places but I love the décor of Satya. It’s so cool, like walking into a bunker. I do admit, the first time I came here I had no idea what to order but then I went with an Indian coworker and it was amazing
- Veg manchurian
- Dahl puri
- Lollipop chicken
- Chilli chicken
7. The Portland Public House, Kingsland
Their place on this list is heavily influenced by their $12 margaritas on Thursdays, and the ability to have a burger for $6 with any drink. THAT is a BARGAIN. Plus their burgers are YOM and their pulled pork poutine blew my mind once.
Basically because I have never gotten anything else:
- Any of the burgers are yum
- Pulled pork poutine
8. K Chicken, multiple locations
This is the only chain and also the only place which issntt really a sit down place but I couldn’t leave fried chicken out of this list, and the best fried chicken that’s affordable and tasty is from K Chicken. I am not above a fried chicken from the bakery or a wicked wing- those are elite. But a lot of cafes and restaurants fancy it up and the batter has no flavour, super dry and just generally mess up one of the best dishes in the universe :’(
K Chicken is Korean fried chicken and comes in boneless, nibble or bone-in versions. They also come with gooey rice cakes which is pretty tasty and you choose between different flavours of sauce it comes drenched in:
My faves are:
- Honey soy because duh
- Cheese snow, because it’s basically like orange chip dust 😛
9. Ajisen Ramen, Newmarket
Ramen is so topical and based on personal preference. Some people swear by Tanpopo. Actually one of my favourite ramens I had was from Daruma Ramen in the Commercial Bay food court. But for a noice lunch or dinner I do love me some Ajisen Ramen in Newmarket just on the amount of choice you can get. They have so many different options outside of the traditional types and flavours.
Because I like it a bit spicy and Japanese spice is one of the lowest out of the Asians, I do like the:
- Kaijiu ramen – spicy and comes with fried chicken, my favourite 😛
- Mala beef ramen – tastes like Chinese hotpot tbh, not for the authentic ramen fans
- Their signature tonkotsu ramen
10. Churbae, CityWorks Depot
I have only been here once, but since I don’t really like brunch food their menu choices really impressed me because they have a CEVICHE BOWL! And NOODLES! I get very bored of eggs bene/bacon/pancakes and I love the variety and it’s TASTY and made by people who know what they’re doing, unlike the worst ramen I ever had in my life which was at a café who used what tasted/looked like spaghetti noodles.
I’ve only had the ceviche bowl but I am frothing to try more.
Hotpot and KBBQ places
Hotpot and KBBQ places are quite hard for me to rate because there are so many of them, and I have only been to a few that are buffets or have shut down now. But I LOVE hotpot and KBBQ, they are some of my favourite meals. Hotpot >>> any café or brunch any day!!
So what do you think? Do you violently disagree or have you been to some on here? My foodie Instagram is @eatsther_nz , let me know if there are some places I need to try!