Steve Braunias is on a mission to eat at each of the 53 food joints on Lincoln Rd in west Auckland. • Episode 30 (and food joints 39 and 40): Shen’s Takeaways, and Taste of Orient

The man who ate Lincoln Rd walked from his house on the Te Atatu peninsula to Lincoln Rd and back the other day, stopping for a couple of feeds at two Chinese takeaways. It was maybe the most idyllic four hours I've spent on this epic quest to eat myself silly.

I needed the fresh air. There had been a death in the family. In any case, the jerk driving the 049 to Henderson sailed past 10 minutes early, and there wasn't another bus for an hour.

The North-West motorway may not qualify as a scenic route, but I enjoyed marching alongside it every step of the way. I headed towards the Waitakere ranges with a breeze chasing the clouds across the sky. In the near distance was that great landmark of the west, the red and white radio mast, blazing with sound since 1935.

There were the Holchim cement yards to the right of the motorway, and Wastewater Pump Station Number 44 to the left, where a guy smoked a cigarette in front of a sign reading ASBESTOS REMOVAL IN PROGRESS.


The deep everyday mysteries of industry and factory life. What secrets were concealed in the 600 lock-ups leased by National Storage? What subterfuges, what covert passions? I spied on the police backing a trailer into one of the garages. What were they up to?

I crossed sickly Henderson Creek, and walked past an abandoned orchard, then a kind of wetland formed by 10 oxidation ponds. To walk to Lincoln Rd is to encounter nature in its most deranged state, but life always finds a way to hang on - I saw spotted doves, a goldfinch, pukekos, spur-winged plovers, a hawk.

There's a scrap metal yard on the corner of the motorway exit and Lincoln Rd. Then an old house with a poster of Bob Marley in the window. It looks empty; I knocked on the door, but no one answered. One day it'll be flattened to make way for another food joint, because God knows there aren't enough of those on the three surreal kilometres of Lincoln Rd.

Shen's Takeaways is one of the humblest food joints on the entire strip. It has fly paper at the front door, and two tables. The menu included lamb flaps. It also does a tray of 100 chicken nibbles for $62.

I settled for a $3.80 steakburger and a bottle of Pam's spring water. The burger was average and only Pam's can make water that is below average, but other diners swear by the place. A review on Zomato by Luo Xiaoling reads, "I Come every time, chicken every finish, service is every good, I like."

Taste of Orient is next to the Lincoln North stripmall. I got a cheese and onion toasted sandwich, and four dim sums. Cost: $6.40. Taste: hovering between average and below average.

As for the opinion of other diners, there was an interesting review on Zomato by the highly entertaining Jesse James (Her tagline: "A big girl with a big appetite"). She wrote, "Good value. We got the 4-5 person banquet for $35 and it fed a lot of people. I personally did not like the food and will not buy it again, but the big group of friends I was with were very happy with it."

It was a shame I walked such a long way only to eat such junk, but the walk was its own reward. On the way home I stopped at the Henderson Creek bridge, and got talking with Peter Prasad. He'd been studying the water as I approached. I said, "Anything moving?" He said, with real pleasure, "Gurnard!"

He'd seen a big red gurnard only seconds before I arrived. Another fish appeared in the mangroves - something dark and wide, maybe a mullet. It was very exciting to see it, and we talked about fish for a while. "There is a saying in Fiji," said Peter. "If you dream at night of a fish, it will bring you luck."

I imagined dreaming at night of a fish, and pictured something moving through black water, soundless. It felt good even just to imagine it. The truth of the saying was revealed: to dream at night of a fish is its own luck.