Chinoiserie, Mt Albert

Chinoiserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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  • food – 4.5/5
  • price – 5/5
  • service – 3.5/5
  • atmosphere – 3.5/5

 

Kura (倉), Auckland

Kura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

倉 meaning ‘Cellar’.
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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.

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Well of Kaga Sake (15.5%) – Medium

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).

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.

Teriyaki style grilled salmon fillets

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!

  • food – 4/5
  • service – 2.5/5
  • atmosphere – 4/5
  • price – 4/5

Casita Miro, Waiheke

Casita Miro, Waiheke

Casita Miro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

Fearless

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/upgrading-security-jenna

So just shy of 6 weeks into our move to New Zealand from sunny South Africa.. It has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least, but we have tackled it positively (for most of the time) and are embracing the many changes.

Last night however I had my 3rd incident of being paralysed by fear. I laugh at myself after the time but the reality of it is isn’t all that funny. Coming from a country with the most resilient and highly adaptable people, feeling fear is just a normal part of one’s day. Now maybe fear is perceived as a strong word to some because ‘fear’ can be widely varied and the scales of fear are vast, so let me elaborate..

A few different emotions come to my mind.. Awake, alert, alarmed, aware, anxious, worried, nervous, uncomfortable. I got so used to living with those emotions that I didn’t even know I was experiencing them.

Coming from the cushy suburbs of Johannesburg, I’d even go as far as to say that I was pretty safe, most of the time. As a Civil Engineer, I thank my guardian angels for the protection I had going to some hair-raising work sites, but I never had any incidents happen to me personally and for that I am grateful. It doesn’t mean however that I didn’t feel those emotions I described above, often and with daily occurrence.

It is funny how quickly we forget our previous surroundings and fall into new ways. After the first week in Auckland, I no longer put my handbag in the boot and didn’t check if the car doors were locked. I have long since stopped looking around me at traffic lights and leaving a space behind the car in front of me. We walk around the park in the evening and take the forest paths just because we can. We drive (or stroll) down our street at midnight and don’t look back to see if we’re being followed, don’t even think about the lack of gates, guards or security vehicles.

My first reality check was about 3 weeks in. I was hanging the washing in the backyard when I heard someone walking towards me. I couldn’t see anyone but I could hear the crunch of the stones under their feet and I knew they were getting closer. Not being able to see them I went into stealth mode, checking where I could escape to depending on which side they approached me from. Turns out the neighbour, on the other side of the wooden ‘fence’, was taking a walk around their house and I could get back to my washing with my heart in my mouth racing a bit above normal.

The second incident happened about a week later on my walk to the grocery store. Kitted with my backpack and off to find us dinner I went.. Passing underneath a highway bridge I was suddenly deafened by this thundering sound that I could only think to be bullets. I screamed and ducked down and then to my delight and total embarrassment realized there was a second bridge – a train had passed over. The lady walking her dog on the other side of the road pretended she didn’t see what I had done, but probably questioned my mental state somewhat.

Then last night while Daniel was in the shower and I was parked on the lounge floor (the joys of ‘glamping’) working on my laptop, I heard a banging noise in the house. I first shrugged it off and then when it persisted it dawned on me that we have no burglar proofing and if I’d left the bedroom window open, someone may be inside. I crept around the lounge towards the bedroom afraid of what I would find. Nothing lurking in our room, oh shit, the spare bedroom. Working up the courage to peer into the dark room, I realized that I had no idea where the noises came from and panic really set in. I dashed into the bathroom to tell Daniel, only to have him burst out laughing, he had been trying to kill mosquitoes.

My poor, shattered nerves! haha!

I am not writing this to bash South Africa, it is merely to tell you what I am experiencing and why. We become so used to being locked away behind our electric fences, high walls, security beams, guards, dogs and gates that when we are home, we mostly do feel safe. Without those ‘protectors’ in place there is a feeling of vulnerability that I am unaccustomed to, that I am slowly learning to embrace.

Many people in South Africa don’t have the luxury of being safe though and the reality of that is bleak. So this post is dedicated to a long-time friend, living in real fear. Not the kind you look back on and laugh about.. She needs our help, her life depends on it. So please consider checking out the link below and contributing something to help making a difference. My aim is to get 500 people to donate R100, all together a small amount can make a huge impact!

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/upgrading-security-jenna

 

 

 

Chuffed, CBD

Chuffed, CBD

Chuffed Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.