What do you do if you work near the epicentre of the best Chinese food in Auckland (aka Dominion Rd and its surrounds)? If you’re like my colleagues and I, you start a Dumpling Club with the sole mission to eat our way through menus we might not decipher and food we may not recognise.
Our first outing was to Barilla Dumpling (571 Dominion Road, Ph: 09 – 638 8032). This spartan little eatery, tucked alongside other similarly decorated eateries, is easy to spot with its bright signage.
Barilla’s extensive menu is surprising for this tiny place, but we were just here to sample their namesake dumplings. In addition to the 37 types of dumplings, there are a la carte dishes, buns, noodles, pancakes, casseroles and cold dishes.
A pot of steaming hot tea was quickly plonked onto the table. 20 generously sized boiled dumplings range in price from $8 – $10. Add $1 extra for have them steamed or fried, and $1 less for frozen dumplings to take away. The usual accompaniments of black vinegar, soy sauce and chilli oil are provided on each table.
Hearty, tasty, fast and cheap; dumplings tick all the boxes. Dumplings are traditional peasant food, cheap but time-consuming to make. It takes nearly as much time to make 200 dumplings as it is to make 20 (I exaggerate, but only just). The only way to make dumplings at home is to disguise it as a dinner party; invite your friends and get a production line going.
We ordered a plate of steamed pork with chive dumplings ($9) and a plate of fried pork with pickled cabbage dumplings ($9). The dumpling skins were a bit rough and chewy, and the fillings were savoury, succulent and gingery.
The pickled cabbage was too subtle to pick up, and I suspect the vinegar would have masked hints of the sweet-sour note. The dumplings are delicious all the same, and addictive.
The hot and sour soup ($6) is certainly hot, – watch out for the chilli flakes. It was satisfyingly good, with pieces of tofu, black ear fungus and egg. 2 plates of dumplings are plenty for 3 people. The offerings include pancakes, buns siu mais, a plethora of a la carte dishes and a specials menu in Chinese. We saw plenty of delicious looking dishes walk by.
571 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Phone: 09 – 638 8032
Hours: Open 7 days, 11:30am – 12 midnight