Herald ethnic affairs reporter and dedicated foodie Lincoln Tan introduces you to a world of hidden restaurant delights around Auckland.
From the outside, Epsom's Golden Jade looks like your typical Hong Kong roast duck and barbecue meat restaurant.
But people in the know who believe that paying a fortune will buy them good health are heading there for a soup dish called Buddha Jumps Over the Wall at a whopping price of $299 a bowl.
This is a dish that gave Michelin-starred Kai Mayfair in London the unofficial title "home of the world's most expensive soup" when it unveiled its £108 ($202) version in 2005.
Staff at Golden Jade were asked during the first lockdown to come up with ideas on how to take the business forward, said one senior staffer who did not want to be named.
"Just before that, because of the news of the emerging coronavirus, people got scared and were just not going out to eat.
"We couldn't operate during the lockdown, so what the staff were told to do is to think about how we can get the business back."
Head chef Tony Chan came up with the idea of introducing Buddha Jumps Over the Wall - a soup delicacy believed to bring health benefits to those who consume it.
The soup requires at least a full day to prepare and Golden Jade's version uses many ingredients, including shark fin, fish maw, abalone, sea cucumber, chicken and a dozen condiments.
The staff member said the restaurant was getting orders for more than 20 bowls a week since the dish became available after the second lockdown in September.
"The pandemic has made people more conscious about their health, and some customers believe that this nutritious soup can help strengthen their lungs and can help them fight the virus."
The medicinal herbs used in the soup are believed to help with anti-ageing, fatigue and digestion, and the immune system.
The origins of the dish can be traced to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) and its name alludes to an ability to tempt even hardened vegetarians.
It is said that once, a travelling scholar was cooking the soup over an open flame; when monks caught the scent, they rushed from their temple to eat it, breaking their vow to avoid meat. Asked why, the monks said the soup was so good that even Buddha would jump over the wall to have some.
Shark finning has been banned in New Zealand since October 2014, meaning commercial fishers cannot remove the fins from any shark and discard the body at sea.
But some shark species can still be fished, including mako shark, school shark, rig and the porbeagle shark.
In some parts of the world, concerns over the sustainability of sharks mean limited availability and consumption of this soup.
Golden Jade staff insist only "legal shark fins" are used, and said they were an essential ingredient.
Although not scientifically proven, shark fins are believed to have health benefits ranging from increasing virility to extending lifespan.
"Of all the ingredients in the soup, the shark fin is the most valued," the staff member said.
The soup is not a meal in itself, and diners who head to Golden Jade believe it is also one of Auckland's best spots for roast duck, crispy roast pork and char siu or barbecued pork.
Owner, Grace (Fei Ma) Chen, is one of the longest-running operators of this Cantonese-style cuisine in Auckland.
Today, Auckland's Chinese restaurant offering is more exciting and diverse that ever.
• Golden Jade, 417 Manukau Rd, Epsom; https://www.goldenjaderestaurant.co.nz