Spicy House was the Dumpling Club’s November outing. Make sure that you don’t confuse Spicy House with the similarly named Spicy Joint one block up the road lest your dinner party end up at two separate places.
The menu at Spicy House seems more edited compared to other similar eateries, and there is a helpful ‘Top Dishes” list on the whiteboard along with some specials. And if you are really lost, there are also some pictorials on the wall. Spicy House lives up to its self-declared ‘Spicy food expert’; most dishes are cooked with ‘spicy sauce’, else has fresh or dried chillies in its list of ingredients. This is deceiving though, as most of the dishes we got were mild, though I’m sure you could ask them to dial up the heat if you prefer.
We pondered over what to eat, which was probably why the server took a while to warm up to us. She was the picture of efficient, brusque and busy, but towards the middle of our meal, I think she even cracked a smile.
My favourite dish on the menu so far is the deep-fried ribs ($15). We were pleasantly surprised when a piping hot rack of spare ribs arrived, – tender, juicy pork encased in a crispy batter.
The deep-fried tofu with spicy sauce ($12) looked intimidating with the liberal sprinkling of chilli pieces, chilli flakes and a layer of chilli oil. However, this was actually more of a warming sensation on the tongue, and the flavours were well-balanced.
The deep-fried squid ($15) seemed somewhat bland, though the squid was reasonably tender.
I seldom see on choy (water spinach, $15 on the specials menu) on offer at Chinese restaurants, which is typical fare at Malaysian and Singaporean restaurants. The on choy was sautéed with garlic, simple, and very tasty. This was the highlight of the meal for some of the Dumpling Club members.
We also ordered some steamed pork and chive dumplings ($9 for 20). These were tasty, however with all the dumpling eateries in Auckland now, the competition means that the standard of dumplings in Auckland, especially Dominion Road, is very high.
We were hoping for something interesting with yan chow fried rice ($10), but a disappointingly average plate of fried rice showed up. Lesson learnt, – do not order fried rice at a Chinese restaurant, no matter how good the other dishes are.
Spicy House is another stalwart of Dominion Road, and deservedly holds its spot as one of a firm favourite of the cheap eats brigade.
557 Dominion Road, Balmoral, Auckland
Thurs – Tues: 12 noon until late
Wed: 5pm until late