Phone: (09) 630 1899
Open: Every day except Monday, 11am-9.30pm
Cost: $40 for two adults and the kid
SET UP & SITE
Ask any Auckland foodie - the city's best noodles and dumplings are to be had at this tiny eatery at the city end of Dominion Rd. Lauded by innumerable food bloggers, the place hasn't changed much since I started going in 2009. Except the queues are longer and (I think) they spruced the interior up last year - but you'll still get your noodles in metal bowls and fetch your own drinks from the fridge - an iced tea or yoghurt drink offsets the spice nicely. It gets really busy around lunch and dinner (but I've turned up at 11.30am and 3pm and had to wait). It is hot, grimy, cramped and noisy - you'll probably have to queue in the street for a good 10 minutes before you order and then another 10 until you get a table. There are no bathrooms inside - they're situated around the rear of restaurant.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
Still keen? Okay - here's what you do. Order the pork dumplings in spicy sauce (yes, there's an English menu).
If - as I do - you order it extra hot - it comes with a garnish of chillies on top. You won't feel your lips for an hour (the Sichuan peppercorn has a numbing effect).
This is a good thing. The hand-pulled dan dan noodles with beef or pork are also excellent - but it's those dumplings I go back for. The spicy sauce - unlike anything you've tasted - is a mix of chilli oil, those peppercorns and sugar. You can watch the dumplings being hand-rolled by a guy sitting on a stool behind the cashier and cooked just over the pass. This is Sichuan (southwest Chinese) fast-food as good as you'll get anywhere. A large bowl costs $12. I've seen many an Auckland chef tucking in on their day off. The Chinese burgers are good too, braised beef or pork in pita bread and at just $5 - a perfect add-on to a noodle/dumpling dish for those with a big appetite. If you have kids and they don't like spicy, order them the dumplings in plan (sic) sauce - my daughter's favourite dish.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF
Service is efficient but don't expect airs and graces - this is a busy noodle bar. It may seem like chaos but the staff have a good idea of who's up for the next free table. Parking is usually available on Tawari St or directly outside if you're lucky. They do takeaways too - ring ahead.