Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Flavour - Halfway down Dominion Road

Recently there has been a bit of media attention about a certain stretch of Dominion Road, in Auckland, which has been identified as a potential site for a "China-Town" tourist attraction in our city.  It's approximately half way down Dominion Road, according to my calculations, having ridden my bike the length of Dominion Road on a number of occasions.  

The Mutton Birds may disagree with me on this, as the halfway house they describe as being half way down Dominion Road seems like it's more at the beginning of it to me.

Apparently this little section of shops is 78% Asian-owned.  Which is good news for vegans who love to eat as many vegan dumplings as they can in one sitting (my record as it stands is 52).  It is in this stretch of road that you will find a rather inconspicuous little restaurant which goes by the name New Flavour.  At one point in time the writing on the front window read "Manual Noodle Dumplings", which has since been replaced by the more accurately translated "Handmade Noodle Dumplings".  

I first found out about this place myself a little over a year ago.  My younger brothers would often have left over dumplings in the fridge when I went to visit.  Finally, after one of a show of one of my brother's, which my parents came down for, we took a late night (after midnight) trip to New Flavour.  From there my obsession grew.  There was one week where I ate there four times, with a different group of friends each night.

Here's a camera fact: Holding a camera above your head gives uncertain results.  It is also impossible to take a photo of all 12 people sitting at one table just by holding the camera above your head.

Not being far from the Wednesday bike polo spot also adds a plus to this place.

This Wednesday a group of 12 Auckland Vegans (Tom, Rom and Me repping Vegan HQ), and one vegan baby made an early trip to New Flavour in order to eat as much food as we possible could.  We started by ordering TEN plates of dumplings (approx. 200 dumplings).  A good way to start an evening at New Flavour.

A mountain of food.  Don't be deceived, less than half the dumplings we ate that night are pictured here.

Steamed and pan-fried.  The choice is yours.

New Flavour is most well-known by vegans for the dumplings, $8 for a plate of about 20, $9 if you want them pan-fried.  One plate of each is usually a good idea.  Or five plates of each in our case.  But aside from the dumplings New Flavour also has a variety of other vegan-friendly dishes on their menu.  There is a page dedicated to tofu, though some of the tofu dishes are tofu/meat combos, and the sweet and sour tofu balls have egg to bind the tofu balls.  The general rule with the menu is that anything that isn't vegan is clearly not vegan (I mean, things like pig's spine is clearly not vegan, and rather disturbing to be honest).  Even the sweet and sour tofu can be made vegan if you just ask for tofu chunks instead of tofu balls.  The staff are pretty accommodating, they do understand that some people don't eat eggs and meat etc, so just have patience and talk to them if you are unsure about anything.  Duncan even requested that they make an extra satay version of the tofu with spicy peanut sauce, and boy did they deliver.

Tofu and peanut satay.  Fantastic.

One of the waitresses bringing more dumplings.  If you frequent this place, you will know her well.  She is a master at making dumplings.

At the beginning of the menu there is a list of entrees.  Pretty much all of the vegan entrees (again the non-vegan ones are fairly obvious) are amazing.  Some are a bit unconventional, such as the shredded potato salad, which as far as I can guess is marinated potato with garlic, lemon juice, chili, coriander and loads of awesome.  This visit we also had some of the seaweed salad, a first for me, but definitely not a last.

Seaweed salad in front of Tom, a plate of shredded potato salad near the dumplings, and a bunch of potato salad clasped in some chopsticks in the air.

The food just kept coming.

There are also a selection of vegetable dishes on the menu.  One regular favourite is the potato, eggplant and capsicum dish.  On this night we stuck with reliable fried beans and chili.  Speaking of chili, when eating dumplings one must know how to do so correctly.  At New Flavour everyone gets one bowl, one saucer, one tea cup and one set of chopsticks.  The name saucer should give you some hints at it's function.  It is the dish with which you assemble your dumpling dipping sauce, out of the soy sauce, vinegar and chili that is placed on each table.  My sauce is often chili heavy, but I blend a bit of all three together.  I also like to pick a few dumplings at a time to sit and soak in my sauce.  This also means that I can have a few dumplings in reserves at all times.

Dumplings on the soak, with a bit of seaweed salad and fried green beans in my bowl.

A big crowd pleaser at New Flavour is the sizzling tofu.  This comes out on a heated iron plate, with a lid on top, sputtering and sizzling away.  The waitress usually struggles to find a clear place to put this hot dish down, as the table will already be full of plates of dumplings, veges and tofu.  Once the lid is removed the dish continues sputtering away.  This is an important point to consider when deciding what to wear to New Flavour.  White shirts are out, unless you strategically sit far away from the sizzling tofu.  If wearing white, I would also stay away from Tom and Rom, who were responsible for a whole lot of mess on our visit.

Sizzlin' Tofu.

Part of what make the experience so great really is the eating loads of food.  Like loads.  Having a table so full of food is a good sight.  And all the vegans I know are crazy when it comes to eating lots of food.  Cost is usually what stop us, but New Flavour manages to pull together not only low cost food, but really good tasting low cost food, and top notch dumplings.  How can vegans resist?

Chili sauce dripping from my chin, I'm focused on eating dumplings.

Dumpling sauce is a good look.

Overall, the prices are cheap.  It's fairly easy to go with a few friends, order some dishes together, eat too much for one meal and pay less than $12.  Dumplings are $8 for about 20, salads are around $5 for a small, $8 for a large, and most of the other dishes are around the $10 mark.  Rice is $1 per person, and as far as I can tell is completely bottomless.  The tea is also bottomless, once your pot is empty, just leave it visible with the lid off and your waitresses will refill it for you.  On our vegan takeover visit, ordering way too much food, we ended up paying $15 each.

Mission accomplished.

One last thing I think I must mention about New Flavour is the opening hours.  New Flavour isn't some daytime place that suits can visit for a business meeting, or people can stop by at on their lunch break.  Heck no.  New Flavour is open from 5pm-3am Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, and 5pm-4am Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  That's right.  They are open to 3 or 4 AM.  That puts this place in a category all of it's own.  Feel like a feast of dumplings at 2am after the band you watched has finished?  No worries.  Fill up your car up with a bunch of friends and you're away.  And hey, if you got a baby with you, no problems.  They have a high chair for the little one.  What else do you need?



  1. Great photo of Liam eating! I think last night was great for him, he really seems to have gotten his head around the whole eating food thing and has been way more keen to eat stuff all today.

  2. Last night was great fun.

    Liam was hilarious with his broccoli last night :) Oh and trying to grab everything that was in front of him!

  3. Is this the place with the cranky waitress (it's part of her charm how she slaps your hand away if you try to pour your own tea, even if she does manage to spill it on you) and the tofu and cucumber salad? This place is great, non-vegans actually introduced me to it.

  4. yep, same place. Sad to report that the 'cranky' waitress has left NZ, likely permanently. This is a great loss in my opinion. I loved trying to make her smile, and succeeding.

  5. is the grumpy waitress gone! Oh she was but the friendliest to me everytime I go :) a great loss indeed

  6. Quick, somebody start a Facebook group like they did for Margaret... :P