This week for Cheap Eats I went in search of some miserable weather comfort and found it at Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles.
Kung Fu Spicy Noodles with lamb
Cleaver-sliced beef noodles
Chinese lamb burger
Despite the recent bursts of beautiful weather hinting at summer, the wet weather gods have been defiantly battering us with wind and rain. And so it was that my friend Sigourney and I found ourselves on a cold, wet and rainy day in the heart of Balmoral’s dumpling precinct. But we weren’t here for those delicious (and ever so often dirty) morsels. We were in search of spices to warm the palate and a bowl of hand-pulled noodles to soothe our souls.
Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles occupies the corner of Dominion Road and Rockland’s Avenue; a narrowish walk way that is the dining room is lined on either side with tables and wooden booths, of which the latter’s tables are adorned with vibrant cartoon collages. Over the smoked-out glass divider, diners can watch the chef as he throws a thick rope of dough into what will eventually be the best bowl of hand-pulled noodles in town.
Whilst lamb is a rare feature on most Chinese menus in Auckland, Kung Fu’s menu shows the influence of the Muslim population of northern China with their lamb skewers piqued with spices and Chinese lamb burgers. Nose-to-tail eating is another prominent feature on the menu here, with a large number of offal dishes on offer; no chicken’s heart or gizzard has been left to waste here. But vegetarians fear not! You will be looked after just as well here with a number of tofu and vegetable dishes to suit.
After perusing the menu several times over, I plumped for the Kung Fu Spicy noodles ($9.80 for small, $10.80 for large) and one order of the Chinese lamb burger ($5), whilst Sigourney settled on the cleaver-sliced beef noodles ($10 for small, $11 for large). Both our orders were nothing short of impressive. Each bowl was a generous entanglement of wide, flat noodles with an unctuous chewiness I’ve yet to savour in other noodle dishes. Thin ribbons of bean curd and bean thread noodles lent different textures to the soup, whilst the broths themselves were both unique to each of our dishes and deeply soothing. Mine was a richly flavoured stock permeated with coriander spice and decently hot (as indicated by the foreboding slick of red chilli oil floating in my soup) whilst Sigourney’s was a subtler but still flavoursome bowl of the purest beef essence. My Chinese lamb burger was a pleasant surprise: a thick toasted pita bread with a warm yeasty aroma filled with slices of braised, cumin-rich lamb, chopped peanuts and fresh coriander, with the overall effect being the perfect, hand-held snack of spice and crunch. The bread was stained rusty red with chilli oil but its heat was relatively imperceptible, so chilli-phobes may rest easy when ordering this dish.
If these few dishes are representative of what Kung Fu’s kitchen has to offer, I’ll be returning to sample the numerous other noodle soups and the more unusual dishes on the menu. But maybe not the chicken gizzard.
Location: 636 Dominion Road, Balmoral
Phone: (09) 623 6298
Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Sunday 11.30am-11.30pm; Thursday 5pm-11.30pm
Prices: Kebabs $1.20-$2.50 each/$10-$20 per 10; burgers and bread $2-$6; soups $8-$10; noodles $9-$12; dumplings $12-$14; meat and seafood dishes $14-$28; tofu and vegetable dishes $10-$14; cold dishes $8-$14
Credit Cards: Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: It would be cramped