Monday, October 27, 2014

A Meal in Brief: The Stall (大牌檔) (*CLOSED*)

[Added 15 March 2016: The restaurant at this location is now Legend of Noodles Cuisine 好運麵家]

We came here because the name of the restaurant (dai pai dong in Chinese) suggested we would be able to find the congee, rice and noodle dishes typical of the cheap roadside stalls that were once popular in Hong Kong. There is a lack of these little Cantonese places on Dominion Road.

The Stall is on the other side of Balmoral Road from the main cluster.

The menu indeed contained congee, rice and noodle dishes. It also had cold entrees like jellyfish, deep-fried and stir-fried meat dishes, and dim sum dishes (only available before 3pm and after 9pm for some reason). The front counter contained both Western cakes and Asian puddings.

The setting was more clean and classy than we expected. There were wooden chairs, and vertical white tiles on the walls, rather than plastic stools out in the open. Framed pictures coupled with English descriptions explained the concept of dim sum, for instance. Although a bit incongruous, there were also cakes and coffee available by the counter.

Interior of restaurant.
The service was welcoming and attentive, though it was a bit strange that we were asked if we were okay with using chopsticks. We were given a choice between hot tea or cold water when we sat down, and presented a plate of pickled daikon (the waitress called it "carrot") while we waited for our meal. Unlike most Chinese restaurants, there were shakers of salt and white pepper left on the table.

Table setting.

What we ate included:
  • the aforementioned cold pickled daikon sticks (free) - these were crisp, sweet and sour
  • steamed rice roll with bread stick ($5.90) - the rice roll was soft and fresh, but was missing the the fried bread stick promised on the menu. The sauces were the usual sweet and nutty ones, but included a bit of sweet chilli on one corner of the bowl, and we were also given a jug of soy sauce on the side.
Steamed rice roll which was supposed to have a bread stick inside.
  • steamed seasonal vegetable ($6.00) - this turned out to be spinach, thoughtfully cut into bite-sized lengths. It was topped with minced garlic and stewed pork. Pretty good, though we didn't expect the toppings, which had the aroma of five spice.
Steamed seasonal vegetable.
  • beef hor fun ($11.50) - this was hot and delicious, minus the smoky burnt oil flavour you sometimes get, so it's probably better for you too. This was our favourite dish. More places should sprinkle sesame seeds on their food.
Beef hor fun.

  • preserved egg and lean pork congee ($8.50) - we needed to add plenty of salt and white pepper to this, but after that we could taste the ginger and other ingredients. The flavour was good after adjustment, but the texture was not quite right: a bit lumpy like they had tried to blend leftover rice into it.

Preserved egg and lean pork congee.
Overall, the food was slightly different from our pre-conceived notions of what Cantonese food should be like, but it was fresh and tasty. Our entire meal came to $31.90, so they clearly didn't charge us for the tea, daikon, or takeaway boxes (which were supposed to be 20 cents each).

I do wonder who their target market is: on the one hand, there are signs in Chinese only; on the other, they cater to people new to the cuisine with the explanations on the wall. Then there is the coffee shop aspect, with Hӧpt soda in the fridge, along with the cake and coffee.

Anyway, it is good to see something around which doesn't offer the same dumplings and noodles as is prevalent in that part of Dominion Road. I would be tempted to return to try their double skin milk custard and similar items too.

Restaurant Details

The Stall (大牌檔)
465 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland
(09) 631 7546


  1. This is a very much tamed down version of what I was thinking of by the name...

    1. True, it doesn't have the same atmosphere, and the food is a bit different too. What do you think of when people mention "dai pai dong"? And what is the closest you have found in Auckland?

  2. Funny to be asked about chopsticks. I feel like everyone gives out chopsticks by default and if you want a fork, you have to beg for some.

    It's a shame about the congee. Congee is pretty simple to make, I wonder why they would do it differently?

    Are you sure that the steamed rice roll with bread stick didn't have the bread stick inside the rolls? Usually a bread stick is rolled in rice paper, then steamed, and cut into slices.

    1. This was just steamed rice noodle rolls with sauces, definitely nothing inside - hence the disappointment.

      I haven't made perfect congee yet myself - the texture of mine is often not quite how I want it either. I am sure it is easy to make congee once you know the secret. :)


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