Thursday, April 23

Food Review: New Inn Pizza

Cuisine: Pizza
Price: $5-15 most pizzas
Location: 117 Beach Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Fast food taste at fast food prices. Delivery took around 40 minutes. The pizza dough was entirely soft, without any crunch, and the topping was bereft of the meat we expected. The vegetables were pleasant, as was the spicy sauce.

The word "edible" would best describe this experience.


Sunday, April 19

Food Review: Eden Noodle

Cuisine: Chinese/Sichaun
Price: Under $15 most mains
Location: 105 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland
Website: NA

If you've eaten 'Chinese' food, what you most likely ate is Cantonese cooking, which originates from just one area of the massive country that is China. Sichuan cuisine is another regional flavour, and Eden Noodle is a great place to dig into it.

Like most of the restaurants on Dominion Road, Eden Noodle is unassuming from the outside, as well as the inside. It's a cramped restaurant, with lines consistently out the door. Expect to wait 15 minutes for a seat, any time of day, so getting a takeaway may be preferable. The restaurant is not particularly hospital, with the stuffy hot air and manic front of staff, who tries to juggle orders as well as the kitchen. It's not unpleasant, but nor is it a particularly comfortable.

The menu is expansive, though most of the items are one of dozens of noodle variations, either hand or pre made. There are cold dishes as well, which may not be to everyone's taste. I've particularly enjoyed the dandan noodles, the pork and chive dumplings in spicy sauce and the slobbery chicken (cold). As mentioned there are numerous noodle dishes to choose from, which are all pretty similar, so don't get too caught up in the details!
Additionally the portions are large, and the prices low, so you can eat generously without denting your wallet.

The signature Sichuan flavours of pepper and chilli are ever present, as a result the food will quickly deaden your tongue. If you are not a chilli enthusiast, avoid Eden Noodle. And if you are, then enjoy these incredibly morish dishes.
The food tends to be slightly oily, slightly salty and very chilli. The meat is tender, the sauces tinged with garlic and it all comes together in a mouth watering feast.

Eden Noodles is a slice of chilli heaven. Heat tolerance is a necessity, and if you can survive, then you are in for a beautiful piece of niche Chinese cuisine. Service and quarters are standard for this kind of eatery, the food is unforgettable. Get here pronto!


Wednesday, April 15

Food Review: El Sizzling Chorizo

Cuisine: Argentinian
Price: Under $25 most mains
Location: Ponsonby Central, 4 Brown St, Auckland

El Sizzling Chorizo is another notable eatery, within the slightly pompous Ponsonby Central. Its claim to fame are mouth watering barbecued meats, with an Argentinian flavour. Vegetarians beware, this is your worst nightmare.

The menu is delightfully simple; chorizo, short ribs, chicken thighs and other well recognised meats are on the menu, as well as empanadas and a small choice of sides. If you've the stomach for it, I suggest the orejano platter or the parrillada, which feature a selection of meats that come in at over 600 grams each. Either makes for a sumptuous meal, and utterly captures the essence of El Sizzling Chorizo.

With such a concise, meat centric, menu the pressure is on to provide excellent quality despite its simplicity. El Sizzling Chorizo rises to the challenge. The chorizo, made by the owner Corra, are some of the best sausages you'll find in Auckland. The short ribs have a slightly gelatinous quality to them, delivering indulgent mouthfuls. The chicken thigh is tender, with sheets of crispy skin, good enough to tempt you to theft if your dining partner has some.
The empanadas are the best I've tried in New Zealand. Dipped in beef tallow, their shell has a satisfying crunch to it. Even the bread stands out: with its chewy, salty, slightly burned goodness.

The wine list, mostly Argentinian red, is also worth a mention. The Septimo Obra Malbec is incredibly fragrant and is the perfect accompaniment to a hearty evening meal at El Sizzling Chorizo.

The simplicity of El Sizzling Chorizo, belies the level of quality and thought afforded to the menu. The meats are sumptuous, making it one of the premier carnivorous restaurants in Auckland. 


Monday, April 6

Food Review: Little Bread and Butter

Cuisine: Bakery/Cafe
Price: Typically under $10 a pastry/loaf
Location: Ponsonby Central, Market 7, Richmond Road, Auckland

If looking for a freshly baked loaf in Ponsonby, you'll most likely find yourself in Little Bread and Butter at some time. As its name implies, their claim to fame is baked goods. The premises also doubles as a cafe and you can grab coffees and smoothies, as well as their breads and pastries.

Like all of Ponsonby Central, the décor is very agreeable (though this could also be interpreted as unoriginal), and the service is tidy. The glass cabinet displays dozens of delicious looking goods such as carrot cake, brownies, quiches and doughnuts. If you decide to try one of every item, you would certainly be at Bread and Butter a while.

The baked goods are definitely the highlight. The carrot cake is moist and the smidgen of slightly sour cream cheese completes the richly satisfying experience. The doughnuts are lightly crisp on the outside, the brownies fudgy. Perhaps the only sub par food I've tried was their pretzel. The dough was soft (as was the exterior), and was so incredibly salty I could barely finish it.
Bread and Butter's loaves are also impressive. They offer enticing tasters of a bread at the counter, which is appreciated. If you are near Ponsonby and need a loaf for an excursion or meal, I'd suggest you go here.

Unfortunately, however nice the baked goods are, the coffees are rather poor. The cappuccinos are flat, while the mochaccinos are the most devoid of chocolate I've tasted in Auckland. If you are looking for a complete breakfast/coffee experience, this is not the place to go.

If out for baked goods for a treat, picnic, lunch or whatever else you need, then Little Bread and Butter is the place to go. You'll be spoilt for choice with the breads, and the sweeter options comfort the soul. Just don't bother with the coffee, or awful pretzels.


Thursday, April 2

Food Review: Mamak

Cuisine: Malaysian
Price: Around $15 per main
Location: Chancery Square, 50 Kitchner Street, Auckland CBD

Summing up Mamak forces me to consider the importance of expectations. When Malaysia is as far away as a 9 hour direct flight, from a country with next to no Malaysian immigrants, can one expect good Malaysian food in New Zealand?
When you grown up cooking and eating authentic dishes with your mother, and eating in Malaysia many times, how do you rate a cuisine outside its home?

Critique quandaries aside, Mamak is located in the cosy Chancery Square where several affordable eateries jostle for your attention. At Mamak the mostly swift service, the earth bound seating and the choice of quintessential Malaysian dishes enable the restaurant to stand out.

The food itself is...reasonable. It is no where near as good as you would get in Malaysian, but perhaps that is an unreasonable expectation. Suffice to say, at Mamak the curries have depth of flavour, the rice is fragrant and the roti crisp. Beef rendang, chicken curry and laksa are all very enjoyable, and will satisfy your South East Asian curry lust.
If you haven't tried the popular Malaysian teh tarik yet, then Mamak will fix you right up.

It's perhaps unreasonable to expect authentic Malaysian food in New Zealand, but nonetheless Mamak does a pretty earnest job of it. You won't go wrong with any of the classics here.


Monday, March 30

Food Review: Odettes

Cuisine: European
Price: Around $30 per main
Location: Shed 5, City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St, Auckland

Odettes is smack bang in the middle of the city, surrounded by stiff competition from other lauded eateries. However Odettes easily edges them out, and takes the cake as the best balance of casual and fine dining in the city. The menu is focused, yet offers variety through they day. I would heartily recommend breakfast there, as well as lunch and dinner.
The décor is understate and clean, the waiters smart casual taking the edge off. On a warmer day, sitting outside is the perfect place to enjoy your meal.

The dishes mainly takes their inspiration from Europe, so you'll find a mix of pasta, pork belly, crepes and chorizo. What makes Odettes truly stand out is how fresh and vibrant everything tastes. I ordered the heirloom tomato and buffalo milk burrata salad on a risk, knowing that the potential excellence of the dish rested on the tomatoes. I was not disappointed. The tomatoes had a tart sweetness to them, and a crisp bite. Unfortunately many restaurants serve under ripe tomatoes, but here the kitchen had served up the dish with confidence in the ingredients.
Other stand out dishes included the wood fire camembert, which is a portion big enough for two. The humongous camembert was rich and gooey. The roast peaches providing a hint of saccharine respite from the luscious fat.

The eye catching black angus eye rib was cooked to perfection, with the streaks of fat melting to provide a more textured mouthful. The rouille managed to keep the dish light and refreshing, which meant I wanted more and more.

Perhaps the only downside to Odettes is the irregular portion sizes. The crepes for instance, are enough that one person may struggle to finish them. Yet some of the salads are teensy, such as the stone fruit salad. A bit more consistency please!

Odettes has become my any time of day European food choice. It manages to create precise wonders, while still being approachable and unpretentious.
If you are in the city looking for something a little bit special, get over to Odettes pronto.


Tuesday, March 17

Food Review: Milse

Cuisine: Dessert
Price: $60 for 4 courses and wine pairing
Location: 27 Tyler Street, Britomart, Auckland

Milse has a stellar reputation as the dessert capital of Auckland. It doesn't quite make the grade, but it does make for an indulgent visit.

Located in the heart of Britomart, its accessibility makes it perfect to at least stroll past. Upon entering you'll discover that Milse is a cramped little place, with cabinets jam packed with dozens of desserts. There are innovative cheesecakes, ice creams, gateaus and more on display. You can take food away, or sit down for a 'dessert' meal.

Sitting down for dinner at Milse is a rather 'intimate' affair, with diners squeezed into a space barely larger than small bedroom. There is both an ala carte and more extravagant, but very reasonably priced, set menu.

The presentation at Milse makes for the highlight of the meal. You won't see many desserts as lavish as what the staff plate in front of you. Unfortunately the taste doesn't quite reach the same dizzying heights. Of all the food I've tried at Milse, it's all looked fantastic but merely tasted good.

I'd suggest the dessert set menu, paired with wine, merely for the novelty. Aside from the charm, and the large selection of desserts on offer, Milse provides a rather lack lustre front when it comes to taste.


Monday, March 16

Food Review: Little Mexico Cantina

Cuisine: Tex Mex
Price: Around $25 a main
Location: 31 Wellesley St, Auckland CBD

Woe to those expecting an exciting meal at Little Mexico Cantina. Its inviting, yet cliché Mexican interior, contrasts with the bland and over priced menu.
You’ll pay $14+ for nachos and quesadillas, which you could make at home for half the price and most likely tastier too. The ubiquitous guacamole tasted like it was made hours earlier, and contained unappealingly large chunks of onion.

The staff made a couple of mistakes that night, forgetting part of our order and presenting an incorrect bill. They at least were apologetic and friendly throughout the night.
The main course of enchiladas was surprisingly enjoyable, after our expectations were tempered by the poor entrees. With a side of wholesome beans, and succulent chicken wraps, it was addicting and we polished the dish off quickly. It was on the smaller size for $26 though.

While the restaurant is somewhat charming, and the staff friendly, Little Mexico Cantina serves bland, overpriced Tex Mex. Stay away, unless you have an allergy to home cooking, and a thirst for the generic.


Friday, March 6


How is it possible for the New Zealand Postal Service to be so fucking incompetent?!
Last year I sent half a dozen cards to Singapore which never made it.
I posted a bunch of Christmas cards locally and I have no idea how many of them made it.
Recently a doctors note took 7 days to reach me.
Now I've posted another letter locally and it hasn't reached 3 days later.

Never going to use these shit birds again, I'll travel 2 hours to deliver postage myself if I have to.

Food Review: Kintaro On Fuji

Cuisine: Japanese
Price: $29.90 for large sushi platter
Location: 17 Swanson St, Auckland

Ah Kintaro. You were the first Japanese restaurant that I truly enjoyed in Auckland. The first that excited me. And while you've been supplanted as my favourite Japanese restaurant by others, you still hold a special place in my heart.
Your tacky decor and music are endearing, your staff earnest and friendly. Many of your dishes are delicious such as the comforting, rich, umami tonkotsu ramen. The sushi is always fresh and affordable.
Okay sure, your menu is a bit crazy and unfocused. Some of the items are bizarre, hair brained creations. But I can forgive, for there are real gems in there. Dishes made with passion, by a talented team. Karaage chicken, ho!

You're the best casual dining Japanese restaurant Kintaro, and I'll never forget you.


Tuesday, March 3

Food Review: Grand Park

Cuisine: Chinese
Price: Extremely varied!
Location: Gate B, Alexandra Park Raceway, Green Lane West, Epsom, Auckland

Grand Park is one of a handful of premier Chinese restaurants in Auckland. With its packed, red abundant dining room and chaotic service it certainly leaves a lasting impression. At peak times, weekend brunch (for yum char) and dinners, the restaurant is busy to the point that even if you book, you'll have to wait for your table. Like many Chinese restaurants the service is awful, so be forewarned. 
The yum char is undeniably tasty, with a wide selection of dishes including the favourites. Of the many dishes I tried included belly pork, siumai, har gow and carrot cake, all were delicious and fresh. Like in Hong Kong, the food is wheeled out on carts and you simply pick your fancy. Don't see what you want? You can ask one of the staff and you may get it...Or you may have to wait for the requisite card to come by. The outcome seems to be depending on the direction the wind is blowing.
While the dim sum charmed, the dinner is another story.

On my last visit, we went for dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve. The food took extremely long to come out, to the point that we were portioned one dish every 20 minutes. When Chinese food is best shared generously, having to ration while you wait for dishes sucks! 
What was perhaps more offensive was the blandness of the food. As it was Chinese New Year, the dishes were of the more exuberant variety, but were tasteless at best. The salmon sashimi was squishy and decidedly fishy. The fried squid meat was clearly cooked from frozen. The sea cucumber dish; gloopy and banal.
Adding to the frustration of these delayed, dull dishes, we were still limited by the two hour table allocation. Yes, this is a restaurant where you are only allowed to use the table for a set amount of time! Despite the restaurant failing to provide us with all our food, we were still rushed out after our allotted time. In fact they were clearing away everything I didn't have my hands on (including my glass), as I finished eating!
While it was Chinese New Year, and it was extremely busy, surely a veteran Chinese restaurant would be able to cope with demand and plan accordingly? The ridiculously slow service, as well as inattentive staff, was insulting. The biggest slap in the face was that this meal cost in the high three figures. We could have gone to any number of high class, excellent, restaurants for the same price.

While Grand Park serves an enjoyable yum char brunch, the last dinner service was completely insulting and amateur. I certainly won't be going there for dinner again.


Food Review: Hulu Cut (Wellesley Street)

Cuisine: Bubble Tea
Price: $6.5 for bubble milk tea
Location: 16 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Bubble tea. The real drink of champions. After I  discovered this gem in Singapore, I found myself unable to survive more than a few weeks without the best of Taiwanese exports.
With multiple bubble tea cafes in the city, you're generally never more than a ten minute walk from pearly goodness. Hulu Cat is one of these cafes, with three stores in Auckland, my haunt being the one on Wellesley Street. 

Hulu serves concoctions of milk teas, slushies, fruit teas and others. There is a wide choice of toppings, such as grape jelly and the unusual wheat powder. I'll stick to my tapioca pearls though. This variety enables Hulu Cat to stand out among its many competitors. The combinations of teas and toppings are addictive, and are distinct enough that you'll enjoy trying many of them.
Otherwise the staff are friendly enough and Hulu has its own seating area, though you'll find that ordering can be a cramped affair. 

Bubble tea isn't complicated and Hulu Cat makes its acquisition very painless. The best bubble tea is still at Hulu Cat.


Food Review: Mad Mex

Cuisine: Mexican (Tex Mex)
Price: $12 for a burrito
Location: 16 Fort Street, Auckland

Mad Mex's menu consists of the usual ‘Mexican’ staples such as burritos, nachos and quesadillas. Don’t expect anything unique or authentic from the menu. Unimpressed, I ordered a simple beef burrito with beans and the hottest sauce they had. The burrito was served room temperature, which was ridiculous. It was pretty big, so in that sense it was satisfying. However the burrito was under heated, under seasoned and completely bland. Despite ordering the hottest sauce, it was pretty mild. I found myself pouring on extra hot sauce just to give it some flavour. My friends dishes didn’t look any better.

Mad Mex is yet another bland and uninspired Mexican conveyor belt, serving food only fit for those who like imitations of actual food. It’s like McDonalds with a veneer of class.


Saturday, February 7

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, February 5

Organised Chaos (A Trip To Thailand): Part Two

Over the next few days we hung out with my friend’s Thai acquaintances. With their ability to speak Thai, and navigate the city, we were able to cover much more ground than before. We went to many a museum and cultural site, making that easy small talk that occurs among travellers, even when none of you can communicate well in one particular language. The time we spent together was certainly valuable, we saw many sites a day, but these Thais were…quite Asian. It was a quiet and studious affair. I did very much appreciate their help, and would wonder how I could repay their kindness when they had selflessly acted as our guides and asked for nothing in return.

My mission to try a wide variety of fantastic Thai food wasn't going well either. Not being a local, I had no idea where to eat good Thai food, neither did my friend nor apparently the Thais. Right outside our hotel where some food stalls, serving dishes such as chicken rice and congee. Now these dishes were extremely tasty, fresh and cheap. However, they were Thai appropriations of established Chinese dishes. So while I would have enjoyed eating Thai style chicken rice any day of the year, it wasn't exactly special. In the entire week in Bangkok, I think I only ate two meals that really excited me.

Congee, Thai style

Monday, February 2

Food Review: Sautee Cafe Bistro & Bar

Cuisine: Middle Eastern/Turkish
Price: Around $20 per main
Location: 27/2 Nuffield Street, Newmarket, Auckland

My interest in Sautee was peaked when a friend mentioned it served great Middle Eastern food and belly dancing. I love Turkish cuisine, but rarely eat it, due to it being hard to find quality restaurants. So off I went to Sautee with three friends.

The restaurant was extremely spacious, to the point I wondered why they didn't fit more seating into the place. Still, it was to our benefit as we had a bit of privacy and the large glass windows let in plenty of light. The menu was expansive with many smaller and large option including seafood, meat and vegetable focused dishes. If you are a vegetarian, you could easily cope at Sautee.

Food Review: Orleans

Cuisine: American/Southern
Price: <$20 per portion
Location: 48 Customs Street East, Britomart, Auckland

Orleans is a popular place, especially on Friday nights. I arrived well in advance of my friends, in order to secure a table for us. Unfortunately Orleans doesn't take reservations, unless it’s over ten people! The waitress was helpful though, and we had our table when we needed it (however after I arrived and waiting forty minutes earlier).
The restaurant itself strikes a tasteful balance between bar and restaurant, with high tables, bar stools and cushy benches, creating a laid back vibe. The wall's wooden panelling was another detail that I appreciated, adding to the character and originality of Orleans. Few restaurants in Auckland capture this elusive mix of sophisticated casual.
Sitting down at our table, I was also overjoyed by another sight; three bottles of hot sauce for the taking! I love hot sauce and apply it generously, so I love it when a restaurant provides it to use at your liberty.

We decided to order a couple of sides to start with; the curly fries and cornbread. The service was swift and the items arrived quickly. I enjoyed the mealy cornbread, though one friend thought it quite average. The curly fries were crispy outside, airy and fluffy inside. The chipotle mayonnaise had a slight smoky taste, which made it all the better. The final touch of light seasoning on the fries, created an incredible morish dish.
For mains we decided to share several dishes, which seems like the Orleans way. So we went for the chicken waffle, crispy NZ pork belly, low country gumbo, southern swine plate and sweet potato gnocchi.
Some of the items arrived promptly and others...not so promptly. Two of our dishes arrived fifteen minutes apart. Isn't it restaurant 101 to serve everyone their food within a few minutes of each other? In both cases I had to ask the waitress where our food was, as it was taking so long. The staff were otherwise pleasant and jovial, but they whizzing around so fast, that I had to make effort to get their attention, otherwise they would just ignore us. Not ideal.

Saturday, January 24

Organised Chaos (A Trip To Thailand): Part One

Thailand is a country I’d heard colleagues and friends rave about, and a country I'd desperately wanted to visit for years. I’d been to South East Asia before, it represented a bare element of humanity; dirty and chaotic, yet passionate and beautiful. I'd treasured those past trips to Asia, and I expected something similar in Thailand. I’d also had a love for Muay Thai for a while, so Thailand was on my 'bucket list' of countries to visit. 
My attitude to travelling was to do as little planning as possible, and go with the flow. My travelling companion had also visited Bangkok before, so I figured it would be a winning formula.
In hindsight it wasn't a winning formula, but I don't regret the attitude I employed.

I arrived to a busy, small and run down airport. After standing in a long taxi queue, I was ushered into a car with a driver who barely spoke English. He told me it would cost 500 Baht (around $20 NZD/SGD) to go to my hotel. I had been warned about unmetered taxis, and the scamming of tourists, so I told him 400 Baht. I figured fixed sums are smarter, since the drivers incentive is then to get you as fast as possible to your destination. This opposed to a meter, were his incentive is to take the longest route possible.
The driver agreed to my price, but not without much (what I took to be) cursing. He then starting talking on his phone in an angry voice. As I was driven passed signs written only in Thai, dark and unlit streets and with my ignorance of the city, I realised how vulnerable I was. If the driver decided to drive me down a deserted alley and introduce me to some 'friends', I would have had no forewarning or defence. “Shit” I thought to myself, “I may be about to start my Thai holiday passport less, moneyless and perhaps dead.”.
Luckily my fears  never came to fruition and with much relief, we arrived at my hotel.

Thursday, January 22

Food Review: Number One BBQ Restaurant

Cuisine: Chinese
Price: Around $15 most mains
Location: 1 Commerce Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland
Website: NA

Greasy, tasty…greasy. Three words (yes, one repeated twice) to describe Number One BBQ Restaurant. One of the many Chinese/Cantonese restaurants in Auckland city, this one serves above average fair which is best shared between three or more people. The service is fast, the waitresses abrupt, the portions large. If you go with friends, you’ll enjoy a hearty meal for less than $20 each.

As highlighted at the start, a lot of the items on the menu are slathered in fat. Don’t kid yourself that the bee hoon (vermicelli) is healthy because its gluten free! Many of these dishes will leave you with that slick, oil coated mouth feel, which isn't altogether unpleasant at times. Overall the food is cooked well, and if you choose wisely you can have a nice mix of dishes. The roast meat is always good, as is the congee (rice porridge). I wouldn't bother with the noodle or fried rice dishes though, unless you really like vegetable oil.

If you want a fast, cheap, extremely sinful meal, then Number One BBQ Restaurant will do you right.


Thursday, January 15

Blog Posts In 2015

It’s been a while!
I went on a three week vacation in South East Asia. Was a great trip, ate lots of amazing food. Seem to have come back in superior health.
So over the next few weeks I’ll be writing brief summations of the different parts of my journey, a few of which will be focused solely on the food I ate in South East Asia.
At some point I will get back to writing regular food reviews in my current home city, Auckland!