Popo dumplings is a newly created food offer which sits in a freestanding kiosk at Auckland International Airport’s Airside food court. The name derives from the Chinese word for “Grandmother”, referencing the traditional, hand-made nature of the cuisine. The intention was to produce handmade dumplings and noodle dishes prepared fresh on site to serve customers seated at the bar or in nearby common-area seating. The target market is both European and Asian but the kiosk particularly targets travellers from the East who struggle to find familiar food, such as spicy, savoury breakfast dishes.

We deliberately kept the palate quite neutral and wanted to create more of a traditional, old-style Chinese restaurant feel rather than a modern “Chinese take-away” look. Colours were limited to earth-tones, coppers, browns and soft pinks to suggest rock salt. Counter faces feature aged copper and antique-looking tiles in brown, pink and bone tones. We created a new logo in English and Mandarin with the Chinese characters set on a red square.
We completely prefabricated the kiosk mainly using a steel frame for the higher areas for ease of disassembly and transport. The cabinet carcasses are made of timber but also made into several parts for portability.

As everything is cooked to order, and the kiosk serves almost no pre-prepared food, we had a huge counter frontage but very little to display on it (apart from some drinks) so we added seats to one side of the kiosk to add interest so customers could also enjoy seeing the dumpling preparation up close. Light levels in the area are very low so we hid small LED spots where we could and supplemented these with glass pendants reminiscent of old gas lamps.

The result, although dwarfed by construction hoardings in the photos, sits well in the open space as a beacon to anyone wanting something more authentic than typical food-court offerings.

Photography by Sampford Cathie.

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