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SHAOLIN KUNG FU NOODLES

[Photographs: David Straight]

We just call it Kung Fu, and we’re pretty sure half the initial attraction was in the name. But there is much more to this noodle joint on Dominion Road – directly across from Barilla – than that: the food comes from Henan in the north of China, heavily influenced by the Muslim populations of the country’s northwest. And, in Henan, you’ll find the Shaolin monastery, which has its own school of kung fu.

So instead of pork and rice, you’ll find kebab skewers of lamb or chicken slathered with chilli and cumin, and – yes – a version of pita bread. The noodles are bloody good – long, wide and flat, hand-pulled by round-faced, shaven-headed chefs in the open kitchen; watching them work is a treat. It’s yet another sign of the increasing diversity of regional Chinese cuisine we find in Auckland, and we love it.

Recently, we’ve eaten Xinjiang noodles ($10) – fried with lamb and tomato and cumin, influenced by the country’s most northwestern province – and we can never go past the eponymous Kung Fu Noodle Soup ($8), a bowl of broth with chunks of lamb, clear rice noodles, bean-curd noodles, and those glorious house-made noodles. It’s a classic Henan dish, and we adore it. But our biggest revelation? The “Chinese burger” ($4.50), an oily pita bread, filled with stir-fried beef and soy bean and coriander. It is unctuous and salty, and utterly surprising. SFG

HOURS Friday to Wednesday, 11.30am to 11.30pm; Thursday 5pm to 11.30pm.

ADDRESS 636 Dominion Road, Balmoral, ph 623-6298.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Order carefully: as well as Henan food, there are some usual suspects, which aren’t nearly as good.

14 Comments

  1. Genie wrote:

    I’ve heard great things about this place and I love that it’s filled with Chinese diners.

    Friday, August 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink
  2. Did someone at the eatery confirm the food is from Henan, or was that an assumption based on the fact that the Shaolin Monastery is in the Henan province? According to Wikipedia, “the Henan cuisine is unique in that it utilizes rice vermicelli”, which is certainly not the noodles I had here.

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  3. Hmmm, I don’t seem to be able to edit my comment. I didn’t mean to be accusatory – I am actually interested in where these noodles come from, and regional Chinese food in general. Let me know if you know of any good references on the subject.

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  4. SFG wrote:

    Ha! Yes, we did ring to check because it was a bit unclear to us as well – there are Xi’an dishes and one from Xingjiang as well. The owners are from Hebi in Henan. I’m always a bit suspicious of those grand statements though – it seems a bit like saying NZ food is unique in its use of pavlova…

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  5. Ah, thanks for that. So which dishes are which? Wish I could read the specials board as well.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  6. Lin Nah wrote:

    Check out Wikipedia’s page of Chinese halal food. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Islamic_cuisine

    Friday, September 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  7. SFG wrote:

    Thanks Lin, fascinating stuff. They are lovely people and were delighted when we rang to ask them where they were from.

    Monday, September 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  8. Ben Green wrote:

    Went there on Sunday (with a mild hangover) off the back of your review and it was unreal. Already planning my next visit.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  9. SFG wrote:

    So great to hear! Glad you liked it.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  10. Ezra wrote:

    Great recommendation. We saw the place on our first trip to Barilla. Thankful to have Kung Fu as an option across the road (and have friendly customer service). Prices have risen slightly but are still unbelievably cheap.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  11. Davey Gravy wrote:

    I have to recommend the totally stunning Cleaver Beef Noodles. It’s a rich, cumin’d, spicy almost curried flavour with an insane hint of aniseed. And those thick noodles. Lots of fresh coriander and some bak choi type veg. As the youngsters might say: OMG.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  12. Davey Gravy wrote:

    And the best thing about the Cleaver Beef Noodles is that it tastes slightly different each and every time you visit – proper food!

    Monday, March 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink
  13. rina wrote:

    is this halal restaurant?

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
  14. SFG wrote:

    Not sure – put it this way, there’s nothing to say it is.

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

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