Where to Eat on Dominion Road

A culinary adventure on one of Auckland's most diverse eating streets

All the ingredients at Chuan Chuan Xiang are on sticks (chuan being the Chinese word for skewer. Picture / Babiche Martens

If you needed any evidence of how Auckland’s food scene is continuing to evolve thanks to our rapidly expanding cultural landscape, a stroll down the Balmoral section of Dominion Rd will bring it home.

Featuring predominantly Asian cuisine — from snacks on a stick to steaming bowls of fresh noodles, giant tureens of saucy stir-fries to mountains of shaved ice — a culinary adventure awaits those ready to embrace the bold and diverse role this iconic street contributes to the tapestry of Auckland’s thriving food scene.

But where to eat and even how to order can be overwhelming for the uninitiated, so here’s a guide to some of our favourite spots.

Taiwanese dessert chain Meet Fresh. Picture / Babiche Martens

One of the newest additions to the strip, noodle master Mr Yong is luring in the crowds with his signature steaming bowls of hand-pulled (or stretched) beef noodles — a dish that shares similarities with Japanese ramen.

With origins in the landlocked province of Lanzhou in central north China, where the local fare has always been hearty and filling, the dish consists of a flavoursome 14-hour slow-boiled beef broth, white radishes, red peppers, green caraway seeds and yellow noodles.

Holding fast to traditional practices, Mr Yong has been freshly “stretching” noodles to order for almost a decade at different spots around the city — don’t miss the chance to watch him work his magic through the kitchen’s window.

The dough is pulled and allowed to twist usnto itself repeatedly, before the skilful stretching turns two thick noodle strands to four, four to eight and more. Finally, several lengths of soft and springy noodles appear in a soul-warming soup with a side of sesame pickled vegetables.
• 547 Dominion Rd

The Ma la xiang guo is the signature Szechuan dish at Dominion Rd restaurant Yi Ma Yi La. Picture / Babiche Martens

This is Chinese steamboat on speed, but instead of your favourite wafer-thin meats — fish balls, vegetables or tofu knots cooking freestyle in a simmering soup — all the ingredients are on sticks (chuan is the Chinese word for skewer).

As soon as your edibles have had enough time in the broth, dip the sticks in sesame sauce or the feisty chilli relish and devour with gusto. Hot tip: ask the master (shi fu) for the day’s special — we had the Mongolian-style dish with goji berries and herbs to really push the (steam)boat out.
• 583 Dominion Rd

RECIPES: Make Your Favourite Asian Restaurant Treats at Home

Yong’s Hand Pulled Noodle House. Picture / Babiche Martens

After all of that hearty fare, you’re probably ready to dabble in a little dessert. To say that you’ll be spoiled for choice at this internationally-renowned Taiwanese chain is the understatement of the century.

However, it pays to note (for the sake of those with a sweet tooth) that the Asian approach to the end of a meal usually consists of savoury notes and chewy, jelly textures (such as Meet Fresh’s purple rice pudding topped with mung beans, barley and taro balls). For a palate-cleansing finish, opt for the strawberry snow ice with icecream and condensed milk (pictured).

Alternatively, there’s the panna cotta-like tofu pudding best washed down with a whipped cream black tea or a strawberry slushie. And just in case you tire of the company you’re with or decide to do dessert alone, there’s always a hilarious game show playing on the TV in-store, perfectly suiting the wired generation that flocks here after 10pm.
• 533 Dominion Rd

The 14-hour slow-boiled beef broth, white radishes, red peppers, green caraway seeds and yellow noodles at Yong’s Hand Pulled Noodle House. Picture / Babiche Martens

Ma la xiang guo is the signature Szechuan dish at this Dominion Rd hot spot, also known as numbing (ma) spicy (la) stir fry. A modern dish beloved all over China, its flavour profile is less about the burn of dried chillies (unless you want it to be) and more about the clever sauce that sings of fragrant spices such as star anise, Szechuan peppercorns and generous lashings of garlic, ginger and spring onions.

Diners choose from an array of raw ingredients in the chiller — think fresh seafood (live clams and crabs bop around in the aquarium), sliced meats, green vegetables, mushrooms and tofu — then place their selections in the metal bowls provided. Once satisfied, these are weighed at the counter, then whisked off to the kitchen to become a feast for the senses served up in a giant yellow bowl.
• 605 Dominion Rd

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