Category Archives: Eating Out

KK Malaysian

KK Mslaysian has been serving up authentic Malyasian food from their Epsom restaurant for over eight years.   I’ve been there a couple of times e recently and have found the food to be amazing.  I’ve only been there a few times for dinner as its always completely packed and waiting times for food tend be long.  Lunch time is much more enjoyable with tables readily available and food arriving quickly.

On a visit just before Christmas last year, we tried the seafood laksa and the Singapore noodles. The laksa was delicious, creamy and coconutty, packed full of prawns, squid , tofu and even some hard boiled egg (which is missing from a lot of laksas in Auckland).  However, the Singapore noodles was the standout. Although I enjoy Singapore noodles, they are usually quite greasy and heavy. This version of the dish was fresh and light.  Instead of the usual pieces of BBQ pork, there was pieces of chicken, the noodles also had pieces of cooked tomato and a pile of fresh shredded lettuce on top.  They were also delicately flavoured and had a good hit of chilli (I asked for spicy).

As you might be able to tell, the KK version of the Singapore noodles has become one of my current food obsessions click here to see the list of them.  I returned this week to have the Singapore noodles and they were just as good as the first time.

http://www.kkmalaysia.co.nz

463A Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland

Phone: 09 630 3555

Mister D

Mister D is a casual eatery located in the centre of Napier.  They won runner up in the Best New Restaurant category in the 2013 Cuisine Food Awards.  They open from 7.30AM for breakfast and lunch and also have a dinner sitting Thursday to Saturday. The staff at Mister D work to deliver fresh local produce and great service with no fuss.

I’ve been to Mister D previously for coffee and afternoon tea and had really enjoyed the food we sampled.  During our recent trip to Napier we returned for dinner so we could try a wider selection of dishes from the menu.

The dining area is very cool and relaxed and our table was opposite the open plan kitchen so we could watch the chefs in action during our meal.

The restaurant was packed and when we first arrived our waiter was rushing around his section visibly stressed.  After a little while things settled down a bit and the service we received was very good.

The menu is varied and creative.  We tried a large range of dishes including fried bread with rosemary and garlic aioli; potato gnocchi with cheese sauce and coffee grounds; caramelised onion tart with Hohepa feta, kalamata olives and thyme; asparagus with strawberries, pistachios and labnah; sashimi salad with avocado, orange and modern dressing; pulled pork with white polenta, apple and fennel salad and pollen salt and the risotto with braised duck, wilted spinach, currants and pine nuts.

All of the food was delicious, the fried bread was crisp, tasty and totally indulgent, the gnocchi creatively presented and cooked perfectly, the onion tart buttery and light, the asparagus was fresh and light and worked well with the unusual accompaniments, the pork tender with a crisp crackle and creamy polenta and the duck tender and tasty.

For dessert we tried the quark cheesecake, a macadamia and caramel slice and one of Mister D’s specialties, a doughnut with injectable filling.  The doughnuts come with a choice of three fillings, chocolate, caramel or custard, you can choose one, two or all three of the fillings.  Again all the dishes were delicious, the cheesecake tart and light but still creamy, the macadamia and caramel slice packed to bursting with crunchy nuts smothered in caramel on a crisp shortbread base and the doughnuts light, warm, freshly tossed in sugar and cinnamon and accompanied by a syringe of custard.

Mister D is a very enjoyable place to eat.  The vibe is friendly and relaxed and the food top level.  It rivals many of the popular Auckland restaurants in both quality of food and service at very reasonable prices.

http://www.misterd.co.nz

Ten Twenty Four

Ten Twenty Four (1024) is a relaxed country dining restaurant located at 1024 Pakowai Road, Hastings.  Kent Badley, formerly of the famous Wellington restaurant Petit Lyon, has joined up with Ian Thomas and Peter Suragawa to present outstanding food in a relaxed location.

We went to 1024 for lunch on a recent trip to Napier.  Their menu is printed everyday as their dishes vary depending on what fresh regional produce is available to the chef.

I visited in a party of six and two of us had the 1024 R & D degustation.  It is billed as a surprise three course menu that allows you to sit back, relax and wait for your food to arrive.  Lunch time diners also have the option of choosing from the a la carte menu (the dinner menu is exclusively the surprise degustation).

The degustation started with a amuse bouche of smoked eel with pear and an elderflower shot that contained dry ice.  The entree was a whole baby flounder deboned, stuffed with prawn meat, covered in a macadamia crumble and served with wasabi mayonnaise.  The main was a lamb shank slow cooked for 12 hours, a stuffed potato and poussin gravy.  The dessert was not on the a la carte menu and was an amazing creme brulee stuffed doughnut served with a berry compote.

Those of us who ordered from the menu started with the daily bread selection, sesame lavosh and brioche with olive oil, sea salt and shaved parmesan.  For mains we tried the flounder(the same dish as the degustation menu entree); the prawn mousse stuffed blue cod with an ancient grain crust, black mustard mayo and broccoli salad; the chicken with wild herbs and garlic, pea shoot puree and kaffir lime and the aged angus striploin with teriyaki, kumara and udon noodles.  We also ordered sides of crumbed potato balls and the 1024 daily garden picked salad.

All of the food was delicious and beautifully presented but the standouts of the day were by far the flounder and the stuffed blue cod.  The flounder was soft, delicate and creamy.  The blue code was covered in a crisp crumb, perfectly cooked and stuffed to bursting with tender prawn meat.  Both dishes were perfectly complemented by the accompaniments and were exciting to eat.

We had to try dessert as we weren’t sure when we would get a chance to come back and also we’re not the type of people who say no to desserts.   We ordered strawberry mille feuille which was delicate chocolate shortbread layered with fresh cream and new season strawberries and the chocolate tort.  Both desserts were lovely but the degustation dessert was definitely the best with smooth, creamy brulee with a crisp shell stuffed into a chewy doughnut and a tangy berry compote.

Service was a bit slow to start but our main waiter was friendly and very knowledgeable about the food he was presenting.

Overall, I though 1024 is a must for anyone either living in or visiting the Napier/Hastings area.  It is top level food in a relaxed atmosphere and very reasonable prices – the price of the surprise lunch degustation was only $50, extremely good value for the levels of preparation and care that were evident in every dish we ate.

http://www.tentwentyfour.co.nz

The Federal Delicatessen

The Federal Delicatessen (The Fed) is the new Al Brown restaurant on Federal Street. After dining at Depot next door last weekend (and the recommendations of several friends) I was keen to try The Fed as soon as I could.

We went on a Friday night and luckily managed to get a table straight away.  The vibe in The Fed is very 1950’s diner cool with booths, seats at the bar overlooking the food preparation area and the wait staff in cute retro style uniforms.

We decided to try a range of dishes to share so we could try a little bit of everything.   We got the smoked Kawhai fish cakes; the pastrami on rye with ballpark mustard; the turkey meatloaf with pecans, celery heart, Granny Smith and whole grain mustard; the poutine, which is fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy and the slaw.

The Kawhai fish cakes were amazing, crispy on the outside, soft, creamy and delicious inside.  The pastrami was also delicious, loads of tender juicy pastrami stacked on soft rye bread and perfectly complemented by a hot mustard.  The meatloaf was a bit bland and dry and although the poutine was OK the gravy was a bit bland and there wasn’t quite enough of it.

At The Fed they have NY style cheesecake the menu.  Cheesecake, especially New York style cheesecake, is one of my favourite desserts so I couldn’t go past this.  The cheesecake was outstanding, smooth and creamy and accompanied by fresh cream and tangy berry compote.

They also have a really good selection of drinks at The Fed.  I started with a glass of prosseco, a light bubbly white Italian style wine and then followed up with a soda jerk for grown ups, a lemon and lime Rickey with Ketel One vodka.  The soda jerk was light, refreshing and not overly sweet.  There is also a wide selection beers and other red and white wines, including some wines on tap.

Although I enjoyed our meal at The Fed and it’s a really fun place to eat, it’s fairly pricey for the kind of food you get and I’ve had better food for the same price at other restaurants around Auckland.  I’d definitely go back for the cheesecake again and to try some of the other desserts but I don’t think I’d hurry back for another main meal.

http://www.thefed.co.nz

Depot

I finally tried Depot this weekend,  it first opened all the way back in 2011 so has been around for a while.  The no bookings policy makes things a bit tricky as we’ve got two small children at home and we usually don’t want to spend our precious nights out without children waiting hours for a table.

We were told on Sunday night that a table for four would take 30 to 40 minutes (which is a much better time than the hour and a half we were told last time we tried to go) so we took a seat at a spare outside table and started with some beer and cider.  We were pleasantly surprised when we were called inside after only 15 minutes.

Depot is always busy and its easy to see why, the wait staff were friendly and full of personality and the food was amazing.

We tried a range of dishes including the Tio Point oysters and Tuatuas from the raw bar; the turbot sliders with pickled lemon mayo and watercress; cumin battered warehou tortillas with slaw, tomatillo sauce and corriander; fergus bone marrow, wood roasted with parsley and shallot salad; mini yorkshire puddings with slow roasted lamb; crisp pork hock with apple and horseradish salsa verde and the potato skins with gouda and porcini salt.

Of all the dishes, the bone marrow was the only disappointing one, being very greasy and rich without a lot of flavour.  However, everything else was outstanding, the sliders were probably the best dish of the night, soft, fresh white buns, crispy fish fried to perfection and creamy, zingy mayo.  I also loved the tortillas, the fish was perfectly spiced and complimented by its accompaniments.

We moved onto dessert and decided to share two,  a sugar pie with cream and an Eton mess.  The sugar pie was nice but a bit boring, really sweet and a light caramel flavour but I found it a bit of a nothing dish.  However, the Eton mess was delicious, crunchy meringue, cream, ice cream and fresh new season strawberries.

The service we received was a bit patchy.  Our waiter was friendly, attentive and charming, they ensured our drinks were always topped up and even put a candle in one of the desserts and sang Happy Birthday for one of my friends. On the flip side we received a dish we didn’t order and one of our sides, the slaw was missed.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable night and I am definitely keen to return, maybe for lunch or mid week when the wait hopefully isn’t too long.  Although the good news is that if a table isn’t available at Depot, the new Al Brown eatery The Fed is just next door.

http://www.eatdepot.co.nz

Best Cheap Eats in Auckland

Metro’s recommendations for the Best Cheap Eats in Auckland (under $20) came out recently in the September 2013 issue and I’ve been trying to work my way through as many of the restaurants as I can over the last six weeks.  I thought I’d do a quick round up of the places I’ve been to so far and how they were.

Bun Hut (Dominion Road) – we had the steamed pork buns with cabbage and chives as well as the pan fried pork dumplings with cabbage and chives, a bowl of noodles with gravy, a chive pancake and a chive and egg pancake.  The restaurant is very bare bones but the dumplings and pork buns are stuffed full of delicious juicy meat.  The pancakes were soft and tasty and the noodles were smothered with a tasty gravy and really good value for $5.

Mamak Malaysian (Chancery, Central Auckland) – I had the chicken murtabak which is a roti stuffed with meat, then pan fried until crispy.  It comes with chicken gravy, fish gravy, Dahl and cabbage.  My friend had the seafood laksa.  The murtabak was delicious and crispy with tasty gravy, although a little bit meat heavy for me, next time I might try the vegetable version or go halves with someone else in two dishes.  My friend enjoyed his laksa too, saying it was very tasty and not too coconutty as some laksa can be.

Sanchun Bamboo (Commerce Street, Auckland Central) – I had the vegetarian Bibimbap, which is a rice based dish which comes in a hot stone bowl with a variety of vegetables, chilli bean paste and a raw egg cracked on top. When the food is all mixed up, the egg cooks and the rice goes crispy from the heat of the bowl.  It came with a variety of Korean side dishes including Kimchi, bean sprouts, potatoes and an egg dish.  The food was all fresh and delicious and I was offered top ups of my side dishes even though I couldn’t finish my Bibimbap.

Selera (Khyber Pass, Newmarket) – this place has in my opinion the best laksa in Auckland.  The char kway teow is also delicious as are the curry puffs and the rotis.

Sri Puteri’s (Queens Road, Panmure) – offering a combination of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian dishes.  We had the seafood laksa, the char kway teow and the roti with chicken gravy, fish gravy and dhal.  The roti was amazing, probably the best roti I’ve had, soft, light and crispy, the laksa was tasty but the char kway teow was bland and disappointing.

Tanpopo Ramen (Anzac Ave, Auckland Central) – A large menu of many different types of ramen.  All contain the same fresh, homemade noodles and there is a range of soup bases to choose from.  I had the Miso Tonkotsu Ramen which is a pork and miso based soup with noodles, BBQ pork, vegetables, bamboo shoots and dried seaweed.  The soup was rich and hearty, the noodles fresh and the whole dish warming and nourishing.

Wok N Noodle Bar (Normanby Road, Mt Eden) – A lot more modern and westernised than the majority of other Asian places around.  The menu is huge and the size of the meals even bigger.  The food is more fusion style and they serve a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian.  I had the Pad see u which is thick rice noodles with chicken, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and egg in a homemade sweet soya sauce.  The dish was filling, fresh and tasty.

Velvet Burger (Fort Street, CBD) – Velvet burger is a gourmet style burger franchise that originated in Dunedin.  The burgers are huge and they pride themselves on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  We ordered a range of burgers including The Squawk Dawg (standard beef burger), Velvet Burger (venison with pineapple and chilli mayonnaise), Homegrown (lamb with either chutney or a minty yogurt sauce), The Babe (crumbed chicken with pineapple and bacon) and the Animal Rights (a kumara and coriander patty with beetroot and a minty yogurt sauce).  All the burgers come with salad, aioli and Velvet relish.  We also tried their wedges, kumara chips, hashies and fries.  Our burgers were a little bit cold by the time we got them home to eat but they were still delicious and would have been even better if we had been able to eat them fresh and hot.

Tiffin (New North Road, Kingsland) – Tiffin cooks excellent North Indian curries with the usual suspects such as butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and korma all covered.  They also do a few more unusual dishes including a mango chicken curry.  My favourite is the mushroom saag, mushrooms cooked in a thick, rich spinach gravy, usually accompanied by a garlic naan.

Renkon (Ponsonby, Parnell, Takapuna and the CBD) – an old favourite with fresh, healthy Japanese style donburi meals available.  All dishes are available on either rice or udon noodles and all main dishes are priced at $11.50.

Ramen Do (Symonds Street, Auckland) – Fresh, homemade ramen noodles which are worlds away from any instant ramen you have at home, these noodles are tender but still chewy and incredibly fresh.  This is the place that changed my perception of ramen noodles as a cheap unhealthy snack.

Han San Vietnamese (Newmarket, Panmure, CBD and Glenfield) – another old favourite that I’ve been going to for many years.  Fresh, healthy tasting Vietnamese food.  The vermicelli salads with either lemongrass chicken or fried pork spring rolls and shredded pork are my favourites.  Although I’ve been a bit disappointed recently and have been finding the food a bit bland.  They could do with using more fresh herbs like many of the Vietnamese restaurants overseas do to liven up the food and really bring it to life.

Kazuya

Kazuya is a very special fine dining restaurant located at the top of Symonds Street, Auckland in a strip of otherwise cheap and cheerful restaurants, takeaway outlets and a few retail shops.  The front of the restaurant consists of a white window displaying the menu and gives very little hint of what is to be found inside.

The dining room is small, cosy and intimate.  The seating is cleverly divided by booths which allow you to feel like you’re ensconced in your own private space.

The food itself is a fusion of European and Japanese cuisines which is a result of chef Kazuya Yamauchi’s background growing up in Japan and then travelling around Europe as part of his role at Aquapazza, a prominent Italian restaurant in Tokyo.

I’ve been to Kazya twice, the first time with one other person and the second time in a group of six.  When we dined in the group of six, the wait staff remembered my husband and I and gave us some special menu options.  We were amazed that they remembered us, our last visit was around eight months ago, but this is a demonstration of the level of service at this establishment.

On our most recent visit two of our group had the degustation menu of 11 courses including an amuse bouche, cheese, sorbet, dessert and petites fours.  On top of this you also get soft, chewy homemade bread and cheese sticks along with all the meat and seafood dishes. The other four members of our party had the signature seven course menu which also included a complimentary amuse bouche, the bread, dessert and petites fours and again a selection of meat and seafood dishes.

There were too many different dishes to list here and all of the food was delicious, full of flavour, fresh and beautifully presented with a very high level of attention to detail.

The standouts of the meal were the king crab with ratatouille and horseradish cream, an usual combination that went together perfectly, the sweet, tender crab meat, the rich silky cream and the freshness of the ratatouille.  The Wakanui grain fed beef with truffle, potato puree and jus was also a highlight, the beef looks rare but is in fact cooked to medium, juicy, melt in the mouth and tender.  And finally, one of the petites fours, a white chocolate with popping candy inside, was a surprising and delightfully playful way to end a stunning meal.

The wine list is top rate but we made the most of being in a Japanese restaurant and tried a range of sakes, including the very easy to drink Mio sparkling sake and three different kinds of dry sake all recommended by the very knowledgeable and professional sommelier.

I’ve already mentioned the level of service but it is truly something special.  The staff are all highly knowledgeable about the food and drinks they are serving and there are little touches including a small package of cookies given to each female in the party before you leave and a special, complimentary little cake and a Polaroid photo to take home if you’re celebrating a special occasion.  All of these touches on top of the amazing food, wine and sake make Kazuya the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.  And if you don’t have a special occasion, dining at Kazuya makes the evening a special occasion.

http://www.kazuya.co.nz