Thursday 19 April 2012

Flavour of the Month: New Flavour, Mt Eden

花よりだんご (hana yori dango) Meaning: Someone who prefers dumplings over flowers ~ Japanese proverb

I am a dumplings over flowers kinda girl.  

Whilst the Japanese saying implies the person prefers practical gain rather than aesthetics, for me the meaning is more literal: give me food over pretty things any day.  

My husband caught on to this early on.  While in the eight years we've been together, he has not yet bought me a bouquet of flowers, he has taken me out to many a delicious meal.  The boy knows the way to this girl's heart.   

For this particular delicious meal over summer we went on a double date with my brother in law and his wife to the restaurant that everyone seemed to be talking about: New Flavour on Dominion Road for some handmade dumplings and noodles.

New Flavour is famous for three things: being super cheap, super delicious, and open till super late.  In fact, we were first introduced to the place by our friends who suggested New Flavour for a post night-in-town feed at 1AM.  Dumplings are the new late night kebabs. 

This time however we came at a more reasonable time of 6:30pm.  There was a line out the front door of people waiting for a table.  We had called to book a table in advance but at New Flavour a "reservation" is more aspirational rather than concrete.  A booking meant that we would get the next table when it becomes available.  And since the place is always packed (even at 1am) and they're not in the habit of holding a table empty for you.  Don't expect to be waiting too long though, the turn over is pretty quick but do expect to share a table if necessary.

On the menu the noodles are endearingly called "manual noodles".  What they mean is the noodles are handmade.  Both the dumplings and noodles really are hand made right there in at a display table by the cash register by a little old chinese lady with ridiculously quick hands.   Dumpling ninja.

The menu is huge and a bit overwhelming but luckily our friends (who were regulars) had taught us the best dishes to order.  We ordered the Stir Fried Bok Choi with Garlic, Bean Sprout Salad, Combination Fried Noodles and one large plate of pork and coriander and pork and chives dumplings.

The plate of stir fried bok choi was generous, garlicky, and tasty.  A great way to start the meal and get some greens in.

{tangy crunchy bean sprout salad}

The bean sprout salad was my fav dish of the night.  Blanched mung bean sprouts with spring onions in a soy, black vinegar, sesame oil and chilli dressing.  It's tangy, crunchy, and nutty.  So simple but so good and healthy too.   Don't waste the sauce, dip your dumplings in it for dumpling amazingness.

We ordered the "manual noodles" as combination fried noodles which came steaming hot and tossed with bbq pork, chinese sausages, bean sprouts and shredded carrots.  These were tasty don't get me wrong, but not really wow and a little oily.  Next time we might just opt for two plates of dumplings and skip the noodles all together.  Great for the novelty of having hand made noodles though - tick that off the bucket list.

{dumplings are beautiful}

And the star of the show: Le Dumplings.  On the menu there is a whole page dedicated to the different fillings you can have but again this is aspirational rather than definitive and means the filling you want might not necessarily be available on the day.  You choose whether you want the dumplings fried or steamed.  Fried means pan fried, which in my humble opinion, is far superior coz you get those tasty crispy golden bottoms.  

You will have on the table a bottle of soy sauce and a wee bowl of chilli oil which you can make a dipping sauce with in the little bowl given to you.  The chilli oil definitely has a kick, so start with a little and then adjust to your taste.

Each large plate of dumplings had around 20 dumplings.  You can order a whole plate of just the one type of filling or get a combination of two types.  We got Pork and Coriander and Pork and Chives.  Both were delicious, although barely distinguishable, so I couldn't really tell you which was the better filling.  I'd happily order both or either again.  The dumplings are juicy, packed with flavour, and have the perfect filling to wrapper ratio.  They are crispy on the bottom and soft on the top and not too oily.  Everything one could ever want in a dumpling.

A word of warning though, when I say the dumplings are juicy, I mean these little suckers are juicy.  I managed to spray dumpling juice across the table and there were plenty of shirt casualties.  Bibs would not go amiss.

Four large plates of food was just enough for the four of us without needing to order any white rice but if you have room for dessert the toffee apple or kumara dishes looked fun.  Maybe next time...

Since our visit then, we've also tried their Fried Chilli-Cumin Squid which was incredible, so if you are a seafood fan this dish is a must order.

Four delicious dishes and we paid only $9 per person for that massive meal, so not only is New Flavour good for your bellies, its good for your wallet too.  

{happy bellies filled with dumplings}

Rating: 4/5

At a glance

New Flavour
541 Dominion Road (near the Balmoral Road intersection)
Mt Eden
09 638 6880

Opening hours:
Sun, Mon, Wed: 5pm - 3am 
Thu, Fri, Sat: 5pm - 4am
Closed Tuesdays 

Service: Perfunctory but efficient.  The waitresses may or may not speak much English. 

Setting: Very noisy and crowded, the kitsch chinese decor only adds to its charm.

Food:  Simple, authentic, delicious chinese noms.  The dumplings and noodles are all handmade.  Best to go with a group so you can get a variety of dishes to share.  Dumpling filling selection is extensive on the menu but may not all be available on the night so ask the waitresses.  They also do takeaways and they do BYO! 

Price: Meal for four came to a grand total of $9.00 per person: (Large plate combination dumplings, Stir fried bok choi with garlic, Large bean sprout salad, Large combination fried noodles) 

***EDIT: NB: At the the time of posting, I've been informed that New Flavour actually got a food rating of E from the local council if you're squeamish about these kind of things.  Kinda adds to the Chinese street food vibe if ya get what I mean.  Good for your immune system :P ****


  1. Interesting, interesting! My labmates and I just went to Barilla Dumplings (571 Dominion Rd) a few weeks ago after a strong recommendation. There were 6 of us and we ordered 5 plates of dumplings, not quite realising how huge they would be...sounds very much like New Flavour which is at 541 Dominion Rd! On a map these places look like they are right next to each other. I propose we swap; you try Barilla next and I'll go to New Flavour.

    Beef and cumin dumplings were our favourite on the day, but pork and cabbage were also excellent. We also tried chicken and mushroom (super-yummy), fish and chive (good, but not my favourite), and, um, that's right - the pork, prawn, and egg (that day's special) shumai. Yum. $10 each and we left rolling out the door, plus I had lunch for the next two days. I just love dumplings.

    Are you still in the Aucks?

  2. Hello Kelly!! I'm back down in dunners freezing my tooth off!!!! :P Oooo am so going to Barilla Dumplings next time I'm up though, a number of people have now recommended it! Beef and cumin....omg these sound amazing!! Barilla sounds like they have a better dumpling range than New Flavour but you should def go to New Flavour if only for the Cumin squid! xox



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