All posts filed under: Dining out

Cocktails and dumplings

This week I tried First Table, a booking website which gives users an early-bird special. Each booking gives the first table of diners (groups of two to four) a generous 50% off their food bill. Food includes dessert and there is no maximum spend. That’s right, no maximum spend. Whether you order $50 or $500 worth of food, you pay half price. While drinks are not included in the special, it’s good to note that your visit may happen to coincide with happy hour at some establishments. First Table currently have about 40 Auckland restaurants to choose from (including The Commons, Pilkingtons, Everybody’s) and covers 16 other regions in New Zealand. The website is easy to use and bookings cost $10 each and can be made up to 6 days prior. Spaces are very limited as there is only 1 first table per day, per restaurant. If you are flexible with dining times or like to eat early and love a great deal, then First Table is perfect for you. After browsing their list of Auckland restaurants, …

Auckland Restaurant Month and a Street Eats giveaway

August is Auckland Restaurant Month and this year, Street Eats on the first Saturday of the month (Saturday 6 Aug 2016). Huzzah! I love Street Eats which I view as a walking, build-your-own degustation. Browse, graze, have a drink, and enjoy the atmosphere. There will be over 80 dishes, usually priced between $5 to $12, covering many different cuisines from restaurants, cafes and food trucks around Auckland. With games for kids, a bar for grown ups and live music for everyone, there will be plenty to keep you amused. Entry is $5 for adults and free for supervised kids. Gates open 10.30am and close 8pm, though I highly recommend an early visit as many of the best dishes sell out. Check out the menus here if you’re like me and like to have a browse before the event. Here’s a few pics I’ve snapped of past Street Eats to get your appetite going…   There are lots of other foodie events on this month, with serious and novel themes. Events include Dinner in the Dark (sold out), Dessert Degustation Walking Tour …

Hiakai means “hungry”

Māori cuisine is curiously uncommon in our culinary landscape. Growing up in the Māori wonderland of Rotorua, I enjoyed many hangi as a kid. I just didn’t appreciate or understand how special it was until we moved to Auckland and there were no more hangi. For those not from around here, hangi is a traditional Māori technique of cooking food underground, using heated rocks and covered baskets. It involves a lot of digging and a lot of time and is thus reserved for special occasions on marae (Māori meeting houses) such as weddings and funerals. For most New Zealanders, Māori cuisine is not an everyday occurrence and even tourists visiting our country will struggle to find Māori cuisine. Searching “hangi” on Zomato comes up with one result and both “boil up” and “Māori” yield no results. None. I know of one cafe in Auckland serving Rewena bread as part of their menu, but it’s not like I can just go out and enjoy Māori food whenever I want. The industry just doesn’t look like that. Yet. In contrast, searching “sushi”, “butter …

7 years and 7 whiskeys

The Koala and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary last night. I have been on the lookout for something special that we would both enjoy and stumbled across it when I read a date night review by Megan on She Said Yes blog about a whiskey bar called The Jefferson. Ribs? Tick.  Whiskey? Tick.  Nice setting? Tick.  Something out of the ordinary? Tick.  Down on the gentrified service alley of Fort Lane and beside freshly crowned Restaurant of the Year, Cassia, you’ll find the entrance to The Jefferson. A basement whiskey bar with 600 whiskeys on offer, this is a great spot to get comfy and let the staff share their nerdy whiskey wisdom with you. With a teal and brass colour scheme and old school glamour The Jefferson feels like home…if home happens to be cerulean lounge with spacious banquette seating, decent lighting and a long well-stocked whiskey bar. There is a small food menu which I suspect is a work in progress, but they have two varieties of rib which is was of the reasons for …

Zomato Bloggers Meet Up: Le Chef

The premise It’s been over a year since my last Zomato Meet Up and this week, I attended my first Zomato Blogger’s Meet Up at Le Chef on Vulcan Lane. We dined as guests of Zomato and Le Chef though all opinions are my own. The setting was romantic, the company was delightful, and other bloggers present were: Carli from The Enthusiastic Cook, Laura from Laura Laura, Maddy from Madicattt, and Georgie from Georgieats – all of who I’ve eaten with several times. I interviewed Le Chef owner Edouard Le Goff for my Auckland Restaurant Month series last year when they had their other branch (you can read it here) and it was great to put a name to a face (and a food to a belly). Edouard was exactly as I imagined, very French, very enthusiastic and answered all our questions with ease. The restaurant Le Chef is located in quiet spot on a charming, cobbled pedestrian-only lane in the city. Tucked away from the bustle of Queen Street, Le Chef channels rustic and romantic French charm. I’ve never been to France but it’s on …

Goats go to Hell…Pizza

I was recently invited to try the the latest from Hell Pizza. I make pizza at home and standard toppings are not my speciality. Smoked salmon, spiced lamb and fat prawns wind up on pizzas at our house. Hell Pizza are on that adventurous foodie journey too so I was interested to see what was on offer. Enlisting the help of some Wellington food heroes, Hell Pizza have created the “El Cabra”. The Spanish word for goat, this Mexican-inspired dish was created by Chef Martin Bosley, Panhead Custom Ales and Mexican restaurant La Boca Loca. Hell Pizza are infamous for their naughty marketing tactics and controversial pizzas (hide your rabbits and your kangaroos) but this time, I feel like they’ve gone for something pretty accessible. I’ve eaten goat recently and I’ve cooked with it before and it’s really nothing to be nervous about. The flavour of the goat meat is very similar lamb – one of our country’s most prized meats. It’s a wonder why we don’t see goat on the menu more often. Did you know that all Hell Pizzas …

Crispy fried chicken skins and sweet drinks at PappaRich Auckland

PappaRich is a franchise serving up Malaysian classics across Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and very recently, Auckland. The first New Zealand store was promised for months on social media (I know because I was waiting patiently) and their loyal expat fans were insistent, verging on enraged that their beloved store opening was delayed. I think some people would have rammed the doors down if they thought it would get them a PappaRich meal earlier. Set on Level 1 of the SkyCity Metro complex (aka “IMAX”) on Queen Street in the city, this is a full size restaurant with all the furnishings and bright lighting you might expect from an international franchise. After soft opening for a couple of weeks, I was invited to the official opening a few weeks back where my sister and I, and others including bloggers Cecilia from Ultimate OmNoms and Sheena from As Told By Sheena. I was born in Hong Kong but grew up in New Zealand and I grew up eating Chinese/Malaysian food. So much to the point that I assumed it was Cantonese food …

Fiercely seasonal in the Bombay Hills

A regular contender at Taste of Auckland, Bracu’s elegant dishes are celebration of quality local produce. Bracu has always been foodie destination on my “one day” list. They also do weddings and even though we visited on a wet spring day, it’s easy to picture a glorious sunny day in the micro-climate of the Bombay Hills. Bracu (pronounced brah-KOO) is set within the 96 hectares of Simunovich Olive Estate who produce olive oils and olive-based beauty products. You can enjoy claybird shooting, archery or even knife throwing if you prefer, before relaxing over food and wine in the idyllic setting of Bracu. Think rolling hills, thousands of olive trees, and country luxury.   Last week, I was invited to sample from the new spring menu at Bracu. Spring must be a dream for chefs, especially when there are items that are so fiercely seasonal. You get to play with these bright and delicate flavours for just a short period of time and if you’re lucky, you get suppliers that have all sorts of weird and …

Chinese American kitsch with a twist

Last night I attended a new pop up at Coco’s Cantina on K Rd. Coco’s Cantina is a rustic Italian kitchen with family-style dining. While the Cocos are galavanting and eating their way through Italy (team building exercise: BOSS LEVEL), the restaurant is being “house sat” by fledgling food businesses Judge Bao and The Pie Piper. I’ve blogged about Judge Bao before and mentioned their friends The Pie Piper who regularly impress foodies at The Street Collective on Ponsonby Road with their bao and pies. On different day, the setting could be called romantic. The lighting was dim with small flowers and candles at the tables. We were seated on long tables and served family-style with a mix of food media present. I fan-girled a little bit but didn’t introduce myself to any of the foodie heroes at the other tables. Um…not there yet. We sampled a range of dishes from Judge Bao’s ambitious pop up menu and ended with slice of pie of our choice from The Pie Piper. We dined as guests of Judge Bao and …

Wine AKL, Scarecrow 7 course dinner and Milse

Last Friday, my friend Miss A and I devoted ourselves to an indulgent evening of wining and dining. There was a wine tasting marathon, a 7 course seafood dinner, cocktails and the night ended at what is easily regarded as the best dessert restaurant in Auckland. We began at 5pm sharp at Wine AKL, a celebration of New Zealand’s wine from 80 vineyards across 2 levels down at Shed 10, Queen’s Wharf a special for Restaurant Month. This was followed by a 7-course dinner of sustainable seafood at Scarecrow on High. There we met a couple of foodies from out of town so we (well, actually Miss A was the instigator) decided to accompany them to Milse for dessert.    Wine AKL Wine AKL started off with a performance by Java Dance Company and with a bang as Bob Campbell (Master of Wine) and wine maker Daniel Le Brun dangerously ceremoniously opened a couple of bottles of the new No. 1  Assemblé (pronounced: a-SOM-blay) which we got to sample.  This was absolutely delicious. We headed upstairs area which was …

Everything you need to know about Street Eats 2015

Street Eats is a highlight of Restaurant Month and it’s on this coming Saturday. Now in it’s third year, this popular event is cheap, busy and delicious. This is not so much a celebration of “street foods”, but a celebration of restaurants’ take on street foods. If you enjoy eating lots of different types of foods by our local restaurant chefs, this is for you. Being a one day event has seen intense crowds and many sold out stalls. This year they are introducing a $5 entry fee which may cut down crowds. Still, I would recommend going early to avoid missing out. Street Eats Saturday 29 August 2015 10.30am – 8pm Shed 10, Queens Wharf $5 entry (Free entry for supervised children) More info at: http://www.heartofthecity.co.nz/auckland-events/food-and-drink-events/street-eats Tips for Street Eats Bring an appetite but get something quick and fast when you arrive so you don’t get hangry Bring a friend (or two) to share dishes with Entry is $5. Bring cash as some stalls may not accept EFTPOS Expect to spent $25-50 per person depending on your appetite and …

Ten delicious ways to spend $60 during Restaurant Month

Restaurant Month is almost upon us. There are some amazing events at Auckland’s finest restaurants with tickets over $200pp. But for those who only dream of $200 dinners, I’ve picked out specials under the $60 mark. There are some pretty amazing restaurants on this list with big reputations so this is a great opportunity to dine out at some of these places for a fraction of the normal cost. There are so many options that I suggest you check out the master list over here. For the sake of quality, I have only included restaurants that have a Zomato rating of 3.9 or higher. If you are new to Zomato, make sure you check out my reviews complete with drool-worthy photos here. Ten delicious ways to spend $60 during Restaurant Month Besos Latinos, Elliot Stables $55 FOR A THREE COURSE DINNER Including a trio of Mexican dips, ham and cheese empanadas, quesadilla and char-grilled marinated steak. Industry Zen, Viaduct $55 FOR A FIVE COURSE DINNER Including wasabi-marinated seafood, sashimi selection, teppan hot plate, teriyaki chicken and beef and …

Ten delicious ways to spend $40 during Restaurant Month

Here are some $40 options for Restaurant Month. I had a hard time compiling this list as it was a the biggest category. There are so many options that I suggest you check out the master list over here. For the sake of quality, I have only included restaurants that have a Zomato rating of 3.9 or higher. If you are new to Zomato, make sure you check out my reviews complete with drool-worthy photos here. These represent the best deals and are places I’ve either eaten at or are on my wishlist. Two or three courses and some of these even include a glass of wine. Ten delicious ways to spend $40 during Restaurant Month Scarecrow, Victoria Street East $40 FOR A THREE COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH Options include scorched sashimi with citrus and macadamia oil, North African spiced fish with roast romanesco and pear and ginger tart with vanilla ice cream. Tourquet, O’Connell Street $40 FOR A TWO COURSE LUNCH OR DINNER WITH WINE Including veal blanquette with glazed carrot and caramelised onion matched with …

Five delicious ways to spend $25 during Restaurant Month

Restaurant Month is upon us. There are some amazing events at Auckland’s finest restaurants with tickets over $200pp. But for those who only dream of $200 dinners, I’ve picked out some $25 specials. These represent the best deals, two or three courses and one even includes a glass of wine! Yes, that’s right, a 3 course meal with wine for $25. Nuts! There are so many options that I suggest you check out the master list over here. For the sake of quality, I have only included restaurants that have a Zomato rating of 3.9 or higher. If you are new to Zomato, make sure you check out my reviews complete with drool-worthy photos here. I have eaten at all these places, these are very good deals! Five delicious ways to spend $25 during Restaurant Month Daikoku on Victoria, Victoria Street West $25 FOR A TWO COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH Including sashimi, tempura and miso soup and a choice of teriyaki chicken, salmon or beef served with rice and a side dish. Depot, Federal Street $25 FOR …

Auckland Restaurant Month 2015 – Events

Auckland Restaurant Month starts this weekend! I’ve picked out a few budget-friendly events for those foodies who can’t quite make the $200 pp events that are happening across Auckland (as much as we’d love to). Check back over the next few days as I share restaurant promotions in different price brackets ($25, $40 and $60) as well as Q&A with chefs, owners, food writers and food bloggers throughout the month. Foodie Films If you missed the two food documentaries at the recent Documentary Edge festival, here’s your chance to see both of them for free. Deli Man is playing this Saturday and For Grace next Saturday. Seating is on a “first in” basis. Deli Man Saturday 1 August, 12pm Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium (FREE) For Grace Saturday 8 August, 5pm Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium (FREE) More info here: http://www.documentaryedge.org.nz Street Eats Saturday 29 August, 10.30am – 8pm Shed 10, Queens Wharf $5 entry (Free entry for supervised children) Immensely popular gourmet market with street food from central city restaurants. Beer, wine, kids’ entertainment and live music. …