There are plenty of ‘cheap eats’ listed online around Auckland. However, as an extremely broke student, I often find that Metro Magazine’s idea of a cheap meal is what I would consider a fine dining experience. A cheap lunch, to me, is under ten dollars. While these places might not look too flash, or have ‘service with a smile’, I can assure you that they all have at least a B grade in food safety. And as students, can’t we agree that a B grade is pretty damn good?
1B Hobson Street
$6 Japanese Curry with Rice*
Those who haven’t tried Japanese Curry are truly missing out. It’s actually more of a gravy or roux without the creaminess an Indian curry might have. Fun fact: curry in Japan dates back to the 1800’s, when the Japanese were introduced to British-style curry powder through trade routes. That’s why it bears little resemblance to your average tikka Masala. I ordered the medium beef with a little pickled ginger. You can upsize to large for free, but honestly the medium was MASSIVE. If you’re looking for a warm and wholly satisfying cheap eat, Japanese Dining You is a great choice. *Please see above: 5-ish dollars.
95 Karangahape Road
$5.50 Tofu Burger
Despite looking like your average fish n’ chip joint, the Burgerie actually has a whole menu of vegan and vegetarian options. They also boldly claim to be the ‘inventor of the tofu burger.’ The burger was pretty good and big enough to satisfy those midday cravings.
It comes with your standard lettuce and tomato, but with several thick, juicy and almost meaty chunks of pan-fried tofu. It had a sweet chilli sauce and thick satay sauce that may or may not have been peanut butter. As someone who cannot get enough of the stuff, I was not bothered in the slightest.
11 Victoria Street East, Auckland CBD
$5.50 Pancake Rolled with Fried Bread Stick (Jian Bing Guo Zi)
Every time I try to get one of my white friends to eat one of these, they seem totally freaked out. But really, it’s just an inside-out fried egg sandwich. For the inside, you can choose between a fried bread stick (basically a savoury doughnut) or a crispy fried cracker. The outside is sort of an eggy crepe, spread with a thin layer of sauces. Apparently Jian Bing is one of China’s most popular street breakfasts, and I can see why; it’s hot, crispy, a little bit spicy and a little bit sweet. It’s also easy to eat with one hand while you’re walking back to class.
7 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD
Steamed Buns $2.50 each
Quite literally a ‘hole in the wall,’ Shanghai Takeaway is one of my all-time favourite places to grab a quick lunch. Their steamed buns are huge and come in a range of flavours: Pork, Pork and Vegetable, BBQ Pork, Vegetable, and Red Bean. The pork and vegetable is my personal favourite – a super juicy pork meatball encased in a mass of warm bread. Eat two of these, and you’ll be full for hours, trust me.
University of Auckland General Library, off Alfred Street.
$5 – $5.50 Hare Krishna Lunch
I’m going to be a little harsh here. If you’ve spent any amount of time as a UoA student and you haven’t tried the vegan lunches, there’s something wrong with you. This is by FAR the most bang for your buck meal you’ll find anywhere in Auckland. The curry is packed with nutritious vegetables, and comes with rice, a poppadom, and a delicious halva dessert with coconut custard. Make sure to bring cash! The Sustainability Network has recently started charging an extra 50c for those who don’t bring their own container.