Tian Fu Lai Chinese Restaurant (Happy Family Takeaway), Mt Albert, Auckland

The English name completely befuddled me. The only reason for the misnomer ‘Takeaway’ in the name is because you can, obviously, choose to take the deliciousness the chefs create away. Its Chinese name Tian Fu Lai, which translates to ‘Additional Fortune Coming’ sounds more befitting.

This was the delightful place for the second outing of the Dumpling Club. Tian Fu Lai (939 New North Road, Mt Albert, Ph: 09 – 846 9577) is located beside the Mt Albert train station and was recommended as one of the most authentic places for dumplings.

We started with the intriguing deep-fried eggplant soup ($8). The garlicky fragrance hits you when the large bowl arrives, resplendent with deep-fried eggplant chunks. The taste is deliciously mellow, with a slightly sour note (dark vinegar?).

The pancake ($4) is fried flatbread, a great crunchy side dish to accompany the soup.

The dumplings here are superb; the pastry skin is thin, smooth and pliable.The proprietor informed us that the chefs make the dumplings fresh on Fridays, which by sheer dumb luck was the day we visited. There is only a limited selection; $8 for 20 boiled dumplings, but they will fry them for an additional $1 if requested. We chose 3 different fillings of dumplings for 5 people, and try as we might, we could not finish the very generous servings.

The luscious egg and chive (they call it leek) dumplings are the stars. I never thought I would prefer vegetarian dumplings to meat-filled ones, but these so good, it’s enough to make you flirt with vegetarianism. The pork and cabbage dumplings were succulent and aromatic.

We asked for the pork and chive dumplings to be fried. I loved the presentation of the fried dumplings, joined together with a sheet of crispy starch.

For the price, this place has no rival. Pleasant surrounds, pretty crockery and utterly delicious food. The Dumpling Club members are clamouring for a repeat visit.

Tian Fu Lai Chinese Restaurant (Happy Family Takeaway)
939 New North Road, Mt Albert,
Ph: 09 – 846 9577

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