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[Photographs: David Straight]

This is the kind of place you might not know about until you’ve lived in Auckland for a few years. It’s in a pretty old villa and it looks like the kind of “Chinese” restaurant that you went to in the 16980s, and which just happens to serve the best Peking duck in town.

On a recent visit, we shared the Crispy Skinned Barbecue Pork ($12), salty and delicious; the Green Beans with Black Olive ($19.50), the Eggplant with Pork ($19.50) the Szechuan Beef and the Egg Fried Rice ($9). Four hungry adults ate, nay, gorged, and took home leftovers for lunch the next day.

A tip – request the Minced Duck with Lettuce Cups – we can’t find it on the menu, but it’s very much a favourite: warm, spicy, savoury duck encased in crisp, cold iceberg lettuce. With an ice-cold beer, it’s the perfect light meal. Our only (rather large) gripe is that they serve shark fin soup, and it’s hell for vegetarians, although if you ask they’ll do their best to accommodate you. NS

HOURS Seven days, lunch midday to 2.30pm, dinner 6pm to 10pm.

ADDRESS 227 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, ph 376-5550.

IMPORTANT DETAILS A long, lazy Sunday lunch here is a wonderful thing. It’s a relaxing, more intimate version of yum cha. And, wonder of wonders, Empress Garden is BYO, something we’re increasingly hard pressed to find in Auckland.

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