I am telling everyone I know in Auckland about this delicious food. What a fantastic recommendation for dinner (they are only open in the evenings every day of the week)!
Do not let its rather quiet location, next to a filling station fool you. It was packed by 7pm and they don’t take bookings, so we got ourselves a drink and settled in for a 15 minute wait. It was totally worth it!
Their specialty is bao’s – Chinese steamed buns. The menu is small and inexpensive with the majority of dishes priced at NZD 10 or less (absolute bargain for Auckland). The atmosphere is cool and far from fancy with décor that is rather out there – luminescent lighting and a large dragon across the back of the service bar.
We tried 4 dishes and they were all delicious. Coconut crusted squid rings (NZD 14) which was great to share as the portion size was really generous. Then for mains we ordered a Pork Belly with crushed peanuts bao (NZD 8) and Japanese Karaage Chicken (Deep-fried chicken) with sesame mayo, ginger and cabbage bao (NZD 9). The bao’s were not short of fillings and left us feeling very satisfied.
I am a huge fan of pork belly bao’s but in saying that I think the chicken bao is inspired as the combination of flavours was mouth-wateringly amazing! The pork was tender and really tasty but to get a 5/5 from me I would have liked crispier crackling.
For dessert we had to go with our second choice of deep-fried, black sesame ice-cream bao (NZD 8) as they had sold out of their matcha ice-cream, condensed milk bao (NZD 8). Carbs and sugar overload but a rather tasty ice-cream sandwich!
The one cuisine I am falling in love with in Auckland is Japanese food. I have had my fair share of sushi and only sushi, venturing no further into Japanese territory. Kura is an underground sake bar located in the CBD. Sake is a reasonably low alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. I’ve tasted it once and was not a fan but we were recommended to drink it warm instead and it was far more pleasant than memory serves. We ordered the large ‘pot’ (NZD 26) for the four of us, which was not all that large and would probably be better suited to 2 people.
The restaurant was packed and the atmosphere was great! We unfortunately booked far too late and ended up being moved around quite a bit in an attempt to move us from the bar area to a table. It was a bit of a disappointment and I definitely recommend that if you want to go in a group, get a proper table booking in advance (they did give us 10% off the bill for the inconvenience which we really appreciated).
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There are a variety of dishes to choose from – small plates, tempura, sashimi, sushi, noodles, donburi and grilled meats. Most of the dishes were delicious, in fact too difficult to place one above the other. The Teriyaki style salmon (NZD 22) was definitely the most interesting tasting dish but we loved the crunch of the chicken (NZD 15) and the twist on the beef sushi (NZD 19). The dish I would not re-order was the sautéed scallops and prawns (NZD 24) – the broth was bland and the seafood lacked flavor.
Brocolli with sesame sauce and mayonnaise
Cheese and shrimp spring rolls
Deep fried chicken
Sauteed scallops and prawns
The first friends we made in Auckland, who love and appreciate good quality food, suggested we try Kura and it nailed the brief – Interesting, tasty and affordable! We will definitely be back!
Getting across to Waiheke is an absolute treat and there are loads of places and wineries to choose from to eat. I was recommended Casita Miro and it was hands down the best part of our day on the island! We were really lucky to manage to get a booking 2 days before but if you’re planning a trip to the island, I wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late.
You access the restaurant on a small section of dirt road and pass by the grapes you may well drink. The main restaurant boasts high ceilings and beautiful glass windows that look out over the vineyard. The first thing I noticed was the mosaics on all the walls. It’s colourful and vibrant and definitely adds a unique touch to the décor.
We kicked off the afternoon with a seated wine tasting. The waitress was friendly and knowledgeable and the wines were pretty good too. It’s a nice way to extend lunch and really make the most of what the place has to offer. I’d recommend trying a glass of their bubbles if you enjoy sparkling wine.
The menu isn’t huge but I prefer it that way as more effort can be put into each dish. The overarching idea is tapas although there are a few options for mains as well. So we opted to share a starter and a main as there were two dishes that really caught our attention. The Goats Cheese Croquetas to start (NZD15) were mouth-wateringly delicious and all over far too soon. Topped with lightly toasted almonds and drizzled with some honey – it’s a must taste dish for sure.
Before leaving South Africa I tried to find the perfect pork-belly with little luck. So on having the waitress reassure me that it would definitely be crispy crackling and tender meat, we dived right in (NZD32). The belly is served on a tomato and chickpea broth that is smoky in flavor as they incorporate some ham hock into the dish too. Hands down the best pork belly I have had in years! And to top it off… we also ordered some freshly baked bread, crusty and delicious to mop up the broth.
There is a buzzing atmosphere and if the weather is good then you can choose to move to one of their picnic spots on the lawns surrounding the restaurant, which we did as soon as lunch was over.
I usually do some research before heading out to eat but ran out of time before going on this trip. What I have since learnt is that it won its place in Top 50 Best Restaurants in Auckland, which it well deserves after trying it with no bias in mind at all.
Tucked away from street view, we were really chuffed to have found this little ‘back alley’ hangout.
The atmosphere is laid back and was perfect for a Sunday outing and quick bite to eat. This café is only open during the day making it a good option for breakfast or lunch. The menu isn’t huge but has a wide enough variety for breakfast (starting from $11) and a few interesting options for lunch with a number of pre-made foods, if time isn’t on your side.
We opted for a toasted, Poached Chicken sandwich to share ($11) which was a generous portion size and absolutely delicious. The smoked feta and a hint of chilly which I wasn’t expecting, gave it just the kick it needed.
The house chardonnay ($8) was full of flavor and the Pale Ale ($10) was spot on! They also have a range of sodas, brews, tonics and coffees to choose from too. I liked that the jug of complimentary water brought to the table was sparkling, it is a small detail but it didn’t go unnoticed.
It was pretty full and is clearly quite popular. The only downside was that the service was pretty average. The staff were friendly but our food arrived before our drinks which is never ideal.
Welcome to the Obliteration Room. An artistic concept by Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama presented at the Auckland Art Gallery until the 2nd of April 2018. The story behind it is that as a young girl the artist started seeing the world through a screen of dots which covered everything she looked at. For the last 40 years she has made sculptures, paintings and photographs using dots to cover surfaces and fill rooms.
Entering into the Obliteration Room made me feel like I was somehow Alice in Wonderland. A concept that had me intrigued from the get go, as there is something just magical about colour.
The display started off as a blank canvas in December 2017, a totally white room. Then slowly but surely it has transformed itself into this. On entry every person is given a sheet of colourful stickers to add to the room.
As you can imagine there are quite a few children who join in on the action. There are couches, a dining room table and chairs and even a piano for them to play on, so definitely worth a visit if you have little ones.
And as for us adults…. “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Where better to watch a Shakespearean play than in a replica of an actual ancient theatre built by Shakespeare and his team. The first ‘Globe’ stood for a few years but burnt down during one of his plays, it was then re-built in 1614 and stood until 1644 when it was demolished in the English Civil War.
What was supposed to be a once-off performance in remembrance of Shakespeare’s death (400 years ago) in 2016, is currently celebrating the 3rd set of performances in Auckland and will be going on until the 1st of April 2018.
I was spoilt with a ticket on Valentine’s day to go and see Macbeth but there are also four other shows to choose from which include: Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors and Julius Caesar.
The theatre seats up to 900 people and there are a variety of tickets for sale, ranging from standing tickets at 10$ (the ‘peasant’ tickets) to seated, premium tickets at 199$ for the real die-hard Shakespeareans. As we are both Civil Engineers by qualification we were in awe of the intricate scaffolding and how the theatre was built.
It rained during the second half of the show but they continued to act without fuss. Only the people in the standing section got wet but nothing a rain jacket couldn’t handle, so go prepared for the weather. A lovely night out with a little dose of English culture for the soul.
The theatre is over for 2018 but with some luck it will be back in 2019 so keep an eye out for it!
Having arrived to the tail end of a cyclone heading towards the South Island, we were showered down on during our first few days in Auckland. We were recommended Elisabeth by our hosts to combat our cabin fever and it definitely did the trick.
Located on New North Road, in one of my favourite suburbs of Kingsland, this charming coffee and dessert spot is definitely worth a visit.
They have a wide variety of hot drinks, so if you are not a coffee fan, there is something for everyone. Their Hot Chocolate ‘Mess’ ($7) consists of fair-trade, organic cocoa chocolate imported from the African islands of São Tomé and Príncipe as well as from the Dominican Republic. They get the bits of chocolate by shaving it away from these big blocks of decadence.
There’s a street gazing section up front or you can opt to lounge in the back and rather read your book or hang out with a group of friends.
We tried their Hot Chocolate ‘Mess’ (of course) and a Vanilla/Chai latte ($6). The chocolate was delicious and not overpoweringly sweet due to it consisting mostly of dark chocolate (72%). The latte was very much on the sugary side but I suppose that’s not unusual considering the description. Their portion size is generous and you will satisfied with your fill. They also have an array of desserts available which look delicious if your sweet tooth gets the better of you.