Mr Zhou, king dumpling curator and mastermind behind Dominion Road institution New Flavour, has recently opened up his second branch of Mr Zhou's on Mt Eden Road. Good news for those of us who don't live near the original in New Lynn, and although close in proximity to the hustle and bustle of the aforementioned Dominion Road dumpling houses, Mr Zhou's has a different atmosphere altogether. To start, it's not lit with eye-watering fluorescent lights and it wasn't heaving with people. Parking was a dream compared to the bumper-to-bumper situation along Dominion Road and it felt more like a restaurant than the sterile, loud environment we've all come to expect from similar establishments.
Atmosphere-wise, yes, it was certainly more sophisticated than most dumpling joints. Service was...well, we finished a couple of pots of tea before our order was taken. Once we had placed our order though, food was relatively quick to come out.
We started with the fried beans with chilli and a spring onion pancake, accompanied by lashings of the chilli oil placed at each table. The beans were lightly fried in garlic and chilli and were perfect to keep us going until the dumplings arrived. The pancake could have had more spring onions, but it was a good vessel to soak up the garlicky oil left behind from the beans. We followed with two plates of dumplings which, let's face it, is what you come to Mr Zhou's for. The pork, prawn and chives dumplings were tasty, but the chicken and chives variety, packed with herbs and perfectly seasoned, was the standout. The skin to filling ratio was on point and they didn't leave an oil slick behind in your mouth. A standard serving comes with 20 dumplings, but what sets Mr Zhou's apart is the fact that you can order half portions; perfect for trialing a wide range of flavours, which you will likely want to do.
Mr Zhou's is worth a visit if you're a little damaged from the night before and can't face the crowds (and yes, they are licensed if you need a pick-me-up) or if you're just after some tasty dumplings at a good price, a stone's throw away from the city.