Auckland's Favourite Chinese Cheap Eats

A flatlay of a plate of dumplings on a table.

Chinese food is one of those cravings that are extremely hard to ignore, but when done right, it really is one of the best cravings to have satiated. Do it wrong, though, and you may be left with some (greasy) regrets. Thankfully in Auckland there are only about a million good options, and most of them won’t break the bank.

Words by: Nicole Mudgway 

Photos by: Anna Briggs, Delena Nathuran and Nancy Zhou

Conveniently, most of these locations are situated in and around Mt Eden’s Dominion Road. It can be daunting (and not always a recipe for success) if you set off to Dominion Road for a hearty late night feed without knowing exactly where you are headed, but often the crowds outside will give away the most popular haunts. And if not the masses, our list below will surely come to your aid.

The cheap and cheerful list below stretches from noodles to dumplings and back to noodles again, with some yum cha, soup and sizzling beef dishes thrown in the mix. Over the years, Chinese takeaway in NZ seems to have evolved from oily meat dishes on rice to featuring plenty of vegetables, techniques, dumplings and flavour. Words like dan-dan noodles, dim sum and yum cha are much more widely appreciated and indulged in than in times gone by. And when those noodles are hand-pulled, well, consider us sold! 

Yum cha is a Cantonese tradition and a trend that has very much caught on throughout New Zealand. It is usually based around brunch and involves small delicious portions of dim sum dishes that are wheeled around the restaurant on carts for customers to order. More often than not, the meal is washed down with plenty of Chinese tea. Traditionally indulged in as a celebratory meal, we think as long as you have a wee crew together, that’s celebratory enough. And naturally, a crew means that you can try one of everything - always a win in our books!

Xi’an Food Bar

11 Anzac Avenue (also on Dominion Road and in Panmure)

For delicious, authentic hand pulled noodles, Xi’an Food Bar is your place. It’s a reasonably priced, no frills restaurant with a focus on traditional techniques and mouth-watering food. There are now eight Xi’an Food Bars across Auckland and Hamilton, and although there remain plans to expand further, so watch this space! 

Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle Bar

636 Dominion Road

Head to Dominion Road for some of Auckland’s best noodle shops - Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles being no exception. Slurp your noods in one of the bright orange booths, with tabletops covered in cartoon imagery. One of the best things about this place? The dumplings are also to die for. 

New Flavour

537 Dominion Road

Another late night spot on Dominion Road, New Flavour lays claim to Auckland’s most iconic dumplings, but they also do a cracker sizzling beef dish as well as stir fried broccoli and garlic. And if you have a sweet tooth, we suggest trying the brown sugar pancakes. There is a private dining room available if you want to take the whole crew.

Noodles being cooked in a wok.

Chonqing Noodles

340 Dominion Road

One of Mt Eden’s favourite noodle houses, named for the spicy, thin noodles originating from the region of the same name. The restaurant is spacious, the seating comfortable and the menu well-priced and enticing - what more do you need?

Photo: Stock by Nancy Zhou

The red and white entrance to Barilla Dumplings.

Barilla Dumplings

571 Dominion Road

As its name suggests, Barilla’s specialty is dumplings. Whether you are after chicken, pork, prawn or vegetables; fried, boiled or steamed, Barilla will have you covered. Options are plentiful, portions are decent, and prices are reasonable - and yes, the rest of the food (not just their dumplings) is tasty! 

Eden Noodles

105 Dominion Road

It’s one of Auckland’s most loved eateries, and since mid-2022 this cheap and cheerful restaurant has opened a second outpost in Newmarket, with the aim of reducing the Dominion Road queues and sharing the love. It’s hard to go past the wide noodles in soup with dandan sauce, but it would be a wise move to order pork and chive dumplings on the side.

The brightly lit entrance to Asian Wok at night.

Asian Wok

Browns Bay and Henderson

If you haven’t tried yum cha already, then it’s probably time. As trollies laden with fried goods, including dumplings and dim sum circulate the restaurant, all you need to do is sit back with your Chinese tea, flagging down the plates that catch your eye (or nose!). Asian Wok is clean, spacious (handy for avoiding collisions with carts), and the food is exceptional.

Tianze Dumpling House

695 Sandringham Road

Tucked away in an unsuspecting block of Sandringham shops lies Tianze Dumpling House. Chef and owner Levi loves to share the background and heritage of the dishes he serves, as learning about other cultures through delicious food is one of the easiest ways to connect. Must-tries are the cold fern root noodle salad, twice-cooked sweet and sour pork and the sizzling eggplant stuffed with pork mince. 

Canton Café

477 New North Road, Kingsland

It’s a go-to option for birthdays and group gatherings (especially BYOs on a Friday and Saturday night), and its central location means it's convenient for almost everyone. Don’t sleep on the spicy hapuka with long green beans, Peking duck and mixed roast pork, all designed to share. Thankfully, Lazy Susans come with the table, so no need to hold back.

Neat Auckland Places

Tala

A male chef working behind the counter inside an open kitchen.
Place Auckland
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What started out as a pop-up restaurant at Karangahape Road’s Bar Magda in 2022 saw subsequent success for TALA, which has now permanently relocated to Parnell Road.

Bar Martin

Exterior of Bar Martin, Auckland.
Place Auckland
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After a long week, there’s something extremely comforting about pulling up to your local for a pint.

Bar Magda

A wooden sign with information on Bar Magda.
Place Auckland
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

Tucked away on Karangahape Road is Bar Magda.

Federal Delicatessen

Green entrance skirting.
Place Auckland
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This place is off the chain good.