Cheap Eats 2016: Dumplings

by Kate Richards / 22 September, 2016
Video by Melissa Tapper.

The best places in Auckland to eat dumplings for under $20.


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


339 Karangahape Rd, K'Rd Precinct
Lucky Lucky used to be a strip club, and still looks like one. As you can imagine, it’s fun, it’s loud and it’s cheap, in all senses of the word. The menu is short but good and there are cocktails served in bubble tea cups with ridiculously large straws. The dumplings are not to be missed. Also great are bao with pork belly, soft and pillowy, or the fried chicken brushed with shrimp paste. 
Modern Chinese, licensed, new listing

Read more: Top 50 Cheap Eats in Auckland 2018 | Five great noodle spots in Auckland


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 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


3130 Great North Rd, New Lynn
New Lynn has a smart new train station and bus terminal, a strikingly eye-catching tower block and all sorts of growth and rejuvenation, but the place that leads the way is Mr Zhou’s Dumplings. Bin Zhou was a pioneer in Balmoral, with New Flavour, and now he’s happily doing it all over again out west. This is how cities grow: planners plan, but it comes to nothing unless clever people come along and do things.
Northern Chinese, vegetarian friendly


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, open late, BYO


776 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak
We wonder if they’re the best barbecue pork buns in town, with their incredibly fluffy exterior and sweet, spicy, sticky filling. They also do their dumplings extremely well — either in your standard plate-of-20 way (fried or steamed, we love the pork and fennel, obviously) or in smaller dim-sum styles. Try the coriander and shrimp, or the pork siu mai. And don’t forget the Chinese vegetables on the side.
Northern Chinese


695 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham
Eggplant may not spring to mind as the stand-out dish at a dumpling house, but believe us when we say the pork-stuffed eggplant at Tianze is so very good. The fried green beans are a favourite, too. And so are their dumplings: as good as anywhere else in town, we think, especially when they’re fried.
Northern Chinese, vegetarian friendly, open late


22A Cross St, K'Rd Precinct
Hidden away behind Karangahape Rd, Top Cafe keeps things simple: it’s dumplings all the way. Pot-stickers or steamed, 11 in a serve, mostly $11 per serve, all plump, just-right chewy and freshly made. While you can’t go wrong with the pork and chives or beef and carrot options, it’s worth branching out: their tofu, cabbage, coriander and “black fungus” vegan dumplings are real flavour bombs. We come here for lunch or to fill up before a boozy night out.
Northern Chinese, new listing


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