Cheap Eats 2016: The top 100

by Metro Magazine / 26 September, 2016

Mamak in Takapuna. Photo/Caitlin McKone.

RelatedArticlesModule - Cheap eats

The best places serving dinner in Auckland for $20 or less.

You’ve found an overly ambitious recipe for the perfect laksa/pizza/pho and steeled yourself to scurry to the super-market in a cloud of rain, only to spend $50 on ingredients you inevitably overcook.

On nights when it’s just so bloody cold and miserable, the realisation that your ideal self — the one whose fridge is full of pre-prepared homemade stocks and pizza dough — can wait to be realised another day is one of the best things about living in Auckland. We can eat out for under $20. Remarkably well.

In compiling Metro’s Top 100 Cheap Eats for 2016, our panel of 14 judges considered the merits of almost 400 restaurants: that’s 90 more than last year. We were scrupulous. We wrestled with gut feelings in the face of damning facts — we so badly wanted more restaurants in South Auckland to blow us away, for Fish Fish to do to fish what Burger Burger has done for burgers, for Nanam to be just that bit cheaper so that we could rave once more about how fantastic it is. But rules are rules.

We were particularly strict on the $20 or under per head (without drinks) policy, noting previous years’ feedback about how relative the term “cheap” is. So with heavy hearts (but heavier pockets) we lost KK Malaysian, Nanam and Conch, among others.

The pop-up food scene is booming but by its very nature is inconsistent. Some of the street-food vendors we included in last year’s Top 100 have now matured into restaurants, like Tiger Burger. We’ve acknowledged that fluctuation this year by extracting food trucks and pop-ups from the Top 100 and naming the best among them instead.

As always, there were no quotas for types of cuisine or geographic areas, which means as many fish and chip shops are mentioned as South Indian restaurants, but unfortunately fewer Cheap Eats made the cut from the east and south than central, north and west. We particularly mourn the lack of good, cheap Vietnamese restaurants in 2016 (we want mountains of fresh herbs, not scant leaves). The incredible diversity of Chinese cuisine is represented, in a small way, by this year’s list. A notable new entry in the Top 100 — so notable, it scored in the top 10 — is Chongqing Cuisine, named after both the city and the branch of Sichuan cuisine known for being really spicy. Take it from us, the Somerville version is lip-smackingly good.

Watch: Barilla Dumpling

For the judges, one of the coolest things about researching this Top 100 has been meeting more of the people who cook the food, run the restaurants and own the joints.

The transformative process of opening an eatery, whether it involves leaving a Metro Top 50 restaurant to start your own fish and chip shop, as at Titirangi’s delightful Fish and Friends, or starting life afresh in a new country, can be profound. The dedication to representing one cuisine, dish or specialty is astounding, when you consider the effort and cost involved.

Here are 100 restaurants each worthy of a pilgrimage, regardless of the contents of your fridge.

Judging the Cheap Eats Top 100

To be considered for this list, an outlet had to be open for dinner and offer a reasonable range of options for $20 per person (or less), excluding drinks.

The judging process began with a list of all the places we knew might have a chance to make the cut, or were new and needed inspection. We then debated the merits of these places at length at a big judges’ meeting, whittling down the list by almost half. Next, we went out and ate. As always, we visited anonymously and paid for our meals. A final meeting consolidated the list, and the crucial Top 10.

The Metro judges

Our judges are food writers, cooks and bloggers with expertise ranging over many types of cuisine. Most of them write regularly online about food in Auckland.

William Chen, williamchendesign.blogspot.co.nz
Connie Clarkson
Simon Farrell-Green, eatherenow.co.nz
Alice Galletly
Michal Haines
Alice Harbourne, Food editor Metro and Paperboy, chair of the judging panel.
Lynn Huhtala, cheapeats.co.nz
Anna King Shahab, eatsbyanna.com
Delaney Mes, delaneymes.com
Courteney Peters, gatherandhunt.co.nz
Kate Richards
Alexia Santamaria, cheapeats.co.nz
Susannah Walker, Metro editor
Simon Wilson, Metro editor-at-large

The top 100 by suburb


Central city

Kingsland

Eden Terrace/Mt Eden/Dominion Rd

Epsom/Greenlane/Newmarket/Remuera/Royal Oak

Grey Lynn/Herne Bay/K'Rd precinct/Ponsonby

Henderson/Mt Albert/Sandringham

Somerville/Mission Bay/Waiheke

Mt Roskill/New Lynn/Blockhouse Bay/Titirangi

North Shore

Mt Wellington/Pakuranga/Panmure

The top 100 by cuisine


Burgers

Chinese

Dumplings

Fish and chips

Japanese

Korean

Malaysian

Pizza

Ramen

South Asian

Top 100 A-Z


@Bangkok 438 New North Rd, Kingsland

Angie’s Kitchen 17 Mount St, central city

Bamboo House 9 Commerce St, central city

Banzai 583 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Barilla Dumpling 571 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Bawarchi 519 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

Bian Sushi 183 Symonds St, Eden Terrace

Big J’s Takeaways 4/1 Melton Rd, Mt Wellington

Bikanervala 214 Universal Drive, Henderson

Bird on a Wire Ponsonby Central, 136 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby

Biwon Korean BBQ 29 Link Drive, Wairau Valley

Boy & Bird 222 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby

Burger Burger Ponsonby Central, 4 Brown St entrance, Ponsonby

Cafe Abyssinia Tulja Centre, 190 Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill

Chinoiserie 4 Owairaka Ave, Mt Albert

Chongquing Cuisine Shop 7/Unit 6 119 Meadowlands Drive, Somerville

Cinta Malaysian 454 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Curry Corner Food City, 6-10 Kilham Ave, Northcote

Dak Hanmari 490 Queen St, central city

Dragonfired Pizza Little Oneroa Beach, Waiheke

Eden Noodles 105 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Epolito's 166 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn

Fish and Friends 414 Titirangi Rd, Titirangi

FishSmith 200 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay

GoGo Music Cafe 559 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Golden Barbecue Noodle House 296D Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Greenwoods Fresh Catch 1 Pah Rd, Epsom

Gu xiang Malaysian 102 Pakuranga Rd, Pakuranga

Happy Japanese 3113 Great North Rd, New Lynn

Il Buco 113 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby

Jai Jalaram Khaman 39 Boundary Rd, Blockhouse Bay

Jimmy the Cook at Grey Lynn RSA 1 Francis St, Grey Lynn

Jiuzhou BBQ 660 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Jolin Shanghai 248 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Kiss Kiss 1A Rocklands Ave, Balmoral

Lucky Lucky Dumplings 339 Karangahape Rd, K'Rd precinct

Madang 23 Wellesley St West, central city

Mamak Chancery Sq, Kitchener St, central city

Mamak 6 Huron St, Takapuna

Mama Rich 205 Great South Rd, Greenlane

Master Bowl 27 Cross St, K'Rd precinct

Master Chinese 150 Queens Rd, Panmure

Mt Eden Village Fish Shop 438 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden

Mr Zhou’s Dumplings 3130 Great North Rd, New Lynn

Mumbai Chaat 1A Kitchener Rd, Sandringham

New Flavour 541 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Ngopi 79 Anzac Ave, central city

No 1 Pancake Cnr Lorne and Wellesley Sts, central city

O-Cha 251 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Paasha 3120 Great North Rd, New Lynn

Panda Noodle Express 463 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Paradise Indian Food 519 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

Petra Shawarma 482 New North Rd, Kingsland

Pizzeria Rosso Pomodoro 356 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

Pokpok 261 Karangahape Rd, K'Rd precinct

Queen Chef Unit 10, 20 Link Drive, Wairau Valley

Queens Court 368 Queen St, central city

Ramen Do 167 Symonds St, Eden Terrace

Ramen Takara 4 Anzac Rd, Browns Bay

Ras Vatika 596 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Rotti Hut Tulja Centre, 190 Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill

Royal Dumpling 776 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak

Sake Bar Nippon 415 Manukau Rd, Epsom

Santhiya’s 1270 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill

Satya 17 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

Selera 487 Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket

Settebello 3/1 Rata St, New Lynn

7 Siri Taste of Sri Lanka 580 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle 636 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Sha Xian Snack 285 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Shubh Restaurant and Takeaways 524 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

Som Tum Mercury Plaza, 23-31 Mercury Lane, K'Rd precinct

Spicy House 557 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Sri Pinang 356 Karangahape Rd, K'Rd precinct

Stumpy’s Pizza 702 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Sunflower Vegetarian 6/50 High St, central city

Tandoori Hut 164 Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill

Tanpopo Ramen 13 Anzac Ave, central city

Tan’s Kitchen 59 Queens Rd, Panmure

Tasty Noodles 919 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill

Thai Street 3/12 Jellicoe St, central city

The Fish Pot cafe 99 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay

The Flaming Onion 1 Lydia Ave, Northcote

The Store 22 The Promenade, Takapuna

Tianze Dumpling House 695 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

Tiger Burger 549 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

Top Cafe Dumpling House 22A Cross St, K'Rd precinct

Top Ten Thai 235B Balmoral Rd, Mt Eden

Totó Pizza 53 Nelson St, central city

Treasure Kitchen 2/392 Great North Rd, Henderson

Tree 21/319 Remuera Rd, Remuera

Uncle Man 277 Karangahape Rd, K'Rd precinct

Venky’s 535 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

Viet Kitchen 342 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Wang Wang Spring Pancake 704 Dominion Rd, Balmoral

Xi’an Food Bar 11 Anzac Ave, central city

Yokoso 241 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden

Yummy Korean BBQ 23 Mokoia Rd, Birkenhead

Zheng Kee 1238 Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill

Zool Zool 405 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden

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