Times Kitchen, East Tamaki, Auckland

Sometimes all you want is a quick bite and not worry about propriety. I’m not suggesting that you dispense with good manners altogether, but an eatery that if you drag along not-so-well-behaved kids and they make a kerfuffle, no one cares a hoot. Which is how I ended up at Times Kitchen (15 Torrens Street, East Tamaki, Ph: 09-271 6929), with Lil Bro, sis-in-law, their friends, and yes, 6 young ones in tow.

The place simply bustles; the wait staff dash around, quickly turning over tables, serving plates of steaming dumplings and noodles, customers are noisily enjoying their food, or queuing at the doorway, waiting for a table. You help yourself to cups of tea from the urn, and collect your cutlery and condiments. The menu is short and sweet; the servings are generous  (a huge plate of dumplings for $6).

First the dumplings. The xiao long baos (soup dumplings, $7) were a disappointment. The two I had lost their soup along the way (though I was told the others were still ‘soupy’), and the pastry was too thick.

The boiled pork and chive dumplings ($7) are very tasty, especially dipped into a soy/chilli sauce. The fried pork and cabbage ($7) are good as well, though a bit oily.

The chive pancakes ($2 each) come out quickly, full of delicious chives and egg. Get a couple or three, – they are moreish.

Times Kitchen makes their own noodles (and you can purchase these fresh from the shop next door for $2 a bag). The sauced noodle ($7) comes with pork mince in bean sauce and julienned cucumbers. Tossed together, it gives a nice savoury foil to the chewy noodles.

The pork rib noodles ($8) were a great hit with the kids; though I struggled with the pork stomach noodles ($8). The smell of the stomach was a somewhat overwhelming, though Lil Bro enjoyed it. I get the impression that the soup noodles all have the same base, and different ingredients added for the variations.

I really liked the pigs ear in red sauce ($6), the sauce was spicy and savoury, complementing the chewy, crunchy pieces. The pork belly, steamed and served with a garlicky spicy chilli oil was good as well.

Overall, this place hits the spot for me. Its lively and casual atmosphere is conducive to noisy eating sessions with friends. You can even purchase frozen dumplings/pancake (in the shop next door); the chive pancakes retail at $4.50 for a pack of 5. Times Kitchen is open 6 days (closed on Tuesdays) from 11am – 9pm.

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