Set along the always happening K' Road is new Asian fusion eatery, The Lantern Alley. Based on Shanghai street food and traditional Korean flavours, it is also heavily influenced by Chinese and Western flavours and cuisines. The space is long and narrow but is beautifully lit so feels spacious while also keeping an intimate ambiance. A bar made of wooden pallets sits to the right as you walk in and the dining room stretches right back to the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. We couldn't help admiring the light fittings which made the space even more attractive.
Service was a little hesitant at first but warmed up as the night went on. No alcohol is served but this may change in the future and there is a range of soft drinks including the organic range from Karma Cola.
The signature dish at The Lantern Alley is the tangbao which is a giant soup dumpling. Seriously, this dumpling is as big as your head and comes served with a straw. The idea is to pop the straw into the dumpling and drink the delicious soup inside. You can then pick up the rest of the dumpling with chopsticks and devour the rest. Choose from chicken and sweetcorn flavour or seafood broth.
We also tried the roasted duck dumplings with cucumber and chilli salad in a mustard dressing. The duck was tender and succulent but particular mention must go to the outer casing of the dumplings. This was so full of flavour and one of the tastiest dumpling dishes we have had in Auckland. We also tried both the tofu and the beef brisket bao. The brisket was cooked perfectly and was fall apart soft but the tofu skin with crunch cabbage and chilli salad was lacking in flavour somewhat.
The deep fried tofu crusted chicken thigh was served with a Korean sweet chilli sauce. We went for the large portion which was very generous and we took some home in a doggy bag for lunch the next day. The chicken was not dry at all and was very moist. The deep fried tofu with a medley of mushrooms in a chilli soy sauce provided a great variety of textures with different types of mushrooms included in the dish.
We didn't have room for dessert but would love to try the Madagascan panna cotta next time.
We had an enjoyable chat with the manager on the way out and she is very proud of her restaurant and was very concerned that we had enjoyed our meal. We could see that she is very interested in her diners and wants everyone to have a really good time. We can assure you, you will.