Go Go Music Cafe

At street level punters may be disheartened to see the darkened window-front of a shut-up and empty shop, like I did the night I visited Go Go Music Café with my Cheapeats colleagues Lynn and Kate.   But look a little towards your right and you’ll see a narrow stairwell disappearing up into the heavens, where the cowboy-themed delight awaits.

Uh what, cowboy themed you say? I thought this was meant to be a Chinese restaurant? Indeed it is both. Go Go touts cuisine from the North West of China where they like things hot with the spice of chilli and cumin, where wheat and noodles reign supreme. Oh and there are a lot of barbequed skewers to be had.

Lynn felt sure this used to be an old Western themed chop house in a former life. The current occupants have left the old décor intact, with murals depicting dusty Midwest towns and more than one feathered headdress dangling from the rafters. It would seem that every night a live band plays, and on this evening we were treated to classical and accoustic rock of both the Chinese and Western bent. It all adds to the charm of Go Go, which is so weird it’s good.

One can order a large dish of hand-pulled noodles with a homely stew of garlicky chicken and potatoes, warm with the addition of chilli and Szechuan in just the right quantities. No tastebud paralysis here. The name of this dish, ‘da pan ji’ literally means ‘big plate chicken’ and big plate it was. Between the three of us our ‘small’ ($31) could have easily fed six as a meal in its own. So utterly delicious, I been craving another visit since on a weekly basis. We also ordered a number of skewers ($1-$4 each) including chicken, lamb, potato and beef tongue. All the skewers were peppered with a blend of cumin and chilli and were charcoal-grilled deliciousness. These would go down well with a beer or two; in our case we ordered some teas including an original milk tea and taro milk tea ($5.50 each).

Ever dedicated to the of cause of trial and error so that you don’t have to, we ordered a beef burger ($5), or at least this Chinese region’s version of it. This was a yeasty grilled pita-esque flat bread filled with grilled spicy beef, chilli oil and coriander. Someone needs to start selling these things from a food truck, they’re the perfect handheld food, moreish and so easy to eat.

We rounded dinner off with the buns with condensed milk, selected from the small and slightly obscure dessert menu. We ordered half of the teeny buns steamed and half of them fried, mostly in an fraught attempt to be virtuous. Definitely order the buns fried; the steamed variety sort of resembled mini guo bao, that unnaturally snow white fluffy bun, but was horrendously bland without being dipped in condensed milk and horribly dry once all the steam and warmth had evaporated. The fried ones however, were devilishly good. Maybe not the sort of sweet I’ll ever crave, but it is worth a try.

Those handpulled noodles on chicken stew however, I dream of that stuff. Go Go Music Café aims to and manages to please, and it’s not difficult to be to convinced to return. The only thing you’ll find difficult to do is rally enough troops together to tackle that big plate of chicken.


Location: 559 Dominion Road, Balmoral, Auckland 1024
09 630-1568
Hours: 5:30pm-2am, 7 days a week
Prices: Barbecued skewers $1-$4; barbecued seafood $12-$14; dumplings $10; cold dishes $9-$12; snack and staple food $3-$12; Xinjiang style chicken $28-$42; non-alcoholic drinks $3-$6.
Takeaways: Yes
Cards: No
Licensed: Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Bathrooms: OK
Wheelchair accessible: No

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