This Sunday, chef and restaurateur Kelvin Zhang, 38, is relishing the opportunity to showcase his restaurant's best-selling xiaolongbao dumplings - and showing Kiwis the correct way of eating them.
His Jolin Shanghai Restaurant is one of 37 restaurants, dumpling shops and vendors pulling together for the first ever Dumplings on Dominion Festival taking place this Sunday on Dominion Rd.
Xiaolongbao, also known as soup dumplings, are served piping hot in small bamboo steamers. Within the wheat flour parcel is a portion of steamed pork and a fragrant soup broth that explodes in the mouth when bitten.
Zhang said many soup dumpling newbies are known to scald themselves as they stuff the Shanghainese dumplings with superheated broth into their mouths.
The way to eat them, according to Zhang, is to take a small bite and drain the broth into a spoon. Give it a few moments to cool and suck the broth out of the skin before devouring the rest of the dumpling.
"No two dumpling types are the same, and I am excited that we have a festival to celebrate and show all the different types," Zhang said.
"The best way to eat dumplings is to have them hot and fresh, so we will use the festival as an opportunity to get customers to come to our restaurant."
At Jolin, a speciality is also the crab meat xiaolongbao and a fried version called sheng-jian bao.
Zhang said the Covid-19 pandemic has hit his business hard, and turnover was down by about 50 per cent.
The event, which is part of Elemental AKL, has been created to shine a light on the unique culinary community that stretches down Dominion Rd from Valley Rd to the Balmoral shops.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development general manager destination Steve Armitage, General Manager Destination said he hoped the festival will get people out and supporting small businesses in the community.
"Auckland has a world-class food scene and this event is a great way to shine a light on Dominion Rd," Armitage said.
"Like our Iconic Eats initiative, where we are highlighting 100 iconic dishes from across Auckland, events like this are a great way for locals and visitors to discover the hidden gems of our food scene."
Festival event director Rob Eliott of Lemongrass Productions said every chef in Auckland has a favourite dumpling restaurant on Dominion Rd.
"We thought it was time to shine a light on this unique part of the city. Our Dumpling Trail gives people a chance to explore all the restaurants and closing off Wiremu St means we can have some fun with a street party atmosphere," Eliott said.
For most, the starting point will be the Festival Hub at Wiremu St which has been closed to traffic for the day to host stalls and stage to showcase cultural performances and entertainment.
Acts include lion dance, a Tsugaru Shamisen performance with traditional Japanese instruments and K-Pop dancers.
DUMPLINGS ON DOMINION
Sunday Nov 15, 11am - 7pm. Free.