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Photographs: David Straight

We went to Tasty Noodles, oh, about a year or so ago and we didn’t really like it. We had a plate of noodles in a bland sesame sauce and an insipid bowl of spicy beef noodles and the place felt forlorn. A year on, everything at this northern-Chinese diner is different.

Tasty Noodles has the same owners, but the menu is new – it’s different, and better – and the service is really helpful. There’s a fitout that has big comfy booths, which remind you of a truck stop, in a good way, an impression helped by the gas station next door. And there’s a big ceramic urn with a metal top in the corner – inside there’s slow-burning charcoal, and little clay dishes with lids: they call this “jar soup” ($7) on the menu, a traditional Chinese medicinal soup, slow-cooked and smoky, full of umami and slowly cooked meat and mushrooms. There are also complementary little dishes of pickled carrot dusted with chilli powder to get you going: very few Chinese restaurants do this.

We’ve also recently ordered lamb dumplings ($6.50 for 10) which are fabulous, served upside down direct from the pan with a big fan of crispy pastry underneath them. The dry noodles are the biz – make sure you order the hand-pulled ones, for $1 extra, and get the wide belt noodles while you’re at it and then combine them with the sour-spicy pork (10 for a large bowl). We also love the cold dishes: beef and tripe in sesame and chilli sauce ($6) is perfectly piquant for a hot day, as well as “black fungus with mustard” ($6) which is a dish of black mushrooms with a jagged mustard oil. There is spice and heat and pickle and balance. Most excellent. SFG

HOURS 11am to 10pm, seven days.

ADDRESS 1/919 Dominion Road, Mt Roskill, ph 620-5618.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Heaps of parking outside.

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