And if you had seen it, you would have dismissed it instantly. It has all the wrong vibes: a dirty mat at the front door behind a sandwich board proclaiming "BUFFET ALL YOU CAN EAT!! EVERY Sun. & Mon. evening...," no way of seeing who (if anyone) was eating inside, no mouth-watering menu on display which you could have used to entice your sceptical friends. It's a place that looks like it has remained unchanged for many decades, from the days when Asians in New Zealand were a novelty and rice cost a fortune and had to be supplemented with white bread.
Your fears might grow as you force yourself up those old, rickety steps, take one last look out the grimy window at the top, and follow the corridor around the corner, past the kitchen and towards a roadblock: people waiting to pay on one side, children in front of crayfish tanks on the other, and waitresses trying to push trolleys in between them. Once the chaos clears though, you will see a large hall in front of you, surprisingly full of customers, including some sitting on the stage area at the far end, next to a historic-looking Chinese wall painting. It feels like an RSA crossed with an old school theatre, a place at once incongruous with a thriving restaurant and reassuringly without pretensions.
|Old but perfectly acceptable dining room, popular with young and old.|
The steamed dumplings are hot, fresh and tasty, and we particularly enjoyed the open prawn and coriander dumplings which looked beautiful with a few golden vermicelli strands placed on top.
|Special prawn and coriander dumplings.|
|Simple but delicious bowl of congee.|
|Baked BBQ pork buns and deep-fried taro dumplings.|
|Trolley with dessert options, including egg tarts, mango pudding and filled glutinous rice balls.|
[Added 8 Dec 2012: Crown Restaurant currently has a D grade rating, but New Flavour used to have an E and it was always full. I've never let a rating put me off good food.]
Go for steamed dumplings and congee.
Avoid the fried things on offer, as these can be cold and unappetising.
As with yum cha in general, to avoid eating only desserts, you may need to order something off the menu to supplement the few vegetarian items on the trolley (delicious as they are, steamed ricesheet rolls served with sesame and sweet sauce hardly make for a balanced meal).
1/F, 12 East Tamaki Road, Papatoetoe, Auckland
(09) 279 8398
Yum char Mondays to Sundays 10am - 2:30pm
|Never judge a book by its cover.|
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