Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Auckland is a budding culinary scene, with new restaurants popping up all over the city and plenty of hidden away secret gems, it's the city that turned me into the foodie that I am.

Inspired by having spent the week back in my home city Auckland, discovering new restaurants that have sprouted up all over the city, and revisiting some of my all time favourites, I thought I would put together a list of must-eat restaurants for travellers visiting, or Aucklanders who haven't given these a go.

There will be restaurants that are missing on this list, and I'd love to hear about them! These are just what I consider to be my 9/10 - 10/10 restaurants in Auckland. Here goes (in no particular order):

Hidden away in the depths of Parnell is a top-tier restaurant in an old chocolate factory. Put on your best shirt as you'll often find yourself rubbing elbows with celebrities and those in the know - I've once sat back-to-back with Rob Fyfe.
Must try: the lamb and the duck liver parfait
Price range: $$$$
Address: 91 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland

Widely touted as Auckland's best fine dining restaurant, the tasting menu at The French Cafe is definitely an experience for a very special occasion.
Price range: $$$$
Address: 210 Symonds Street, Auckland

I'd like to think I know a thing or two about Chinese food, since I am Chinese after all. Golden Jade is my family's most frequented Chinese restaurant, after years of experimenting at different Chinese restaurants. Be warned, it will be noisy like any other Chinese restaurant and the service will be completely rubbish, but I'm more than happy to sacrifice those for the best Chinese in Auckland.
Must try: salted egg prawns
Price range: $$-$$$
Address: 417 Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland

Yes, Ponsonby Central isn't exactly one restaurant - but that's what so great about it. It's a collection of eateries, homeware, clothing and other random knick knack stores all under one old warehouse. It's a recent addition to the restaurant and culture scene of Auckland, and it is still adding new stores and eateries monthly.
Must try: Bread & Butter Bakery
Price range: $-$$$
Address: 136-138 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

One of my favourite spots for a lazy special occasion Sunday. Take the ferry over to Waiheke and stay for an extended lunch with the most drinkable of wines from Cable Bay. The food is certainly comparable to the wines - and don't miss out on the dessert at the end either.
Must try: the lamb, the scallops, cheese plate
Price range: $$$$
Address: 12 Nick Johnstone Drive, Oneroa, Waiheke Island

This is my best kept secret - one that I only ever took my bestest friends to, because it was much too serene to share. Overlooking the water at Westhaven, Bill Fish Cafe is the perfect way to spend a sunny day gazing at yachts that you wish you could sail and nibbling on a delightful platter of fish and chips.
Must try: fish and chips
Price range: $$
Address: Z-Pier, 31 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven, Auckland


Easily the best Turkish/Middle Eastern cuisine in Auckland, just across the road from the bungy ball in the city. The intimate setting with Turkish lamps and the best hummus and dips makes it a fun first date restaurant. I've only ever gone there with the same friends, and we only ever get the set menu - you really can't go wrong with that combination.
Must try: set menu
Price range: $$-$$$
Address: 59 Victoria Street West, Auckland

Euro is an oldie but a goodie. It's not uncommon to rub elbows with bankers and accountants here out for a post-work celebration. A colleague of mine liked this place for its steaks so much that he would often order two for his main course.
Must try: the rotisserie chicken or any of the steaks
Price range: $$$$
Address: Shed 22, Princes Wharf, 147 Quay Street, Auckland

I'm a little bit biased here as one of my good friends from school worked here for years, and I got treated to still what I consider the best takeaway fish and chips I've ever had. It's a tiny little shop on the corner of Remuera Road and Upland Road, but they do the most delicious beer battered fries.
Must try: beer battered fries
Price range: $-$$
Address: 612 Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland

A very popular spot for casual dining, attracting the masses even on a quiet Monday night. The oysters are delicious if you're into them, and the fish sliders are quite a crowd-pleaser to according to the waitstaff (although I can't say that I'm the biggest fan-girl of them).
Must try: oysters, roast chicken with cous cous
Price range: $$$
Address: 86 Federal Street, Auckland


This is one of my absolute favourite places to go after dinner for coffee and cake to catch up with friends. There is definitely a late-night coffee and cake culture missing in Sydney, and Frasers fills this gap perfectly whenever I'm in Auckland.
Must try: banoffee pie and chocolate mousse cake
Price range: $
Address: 434 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland

5 years ago, this was Auckland's best kept secret and it's no surprise as to why everyone has been sharing this sweet little spot with their friends and family since then. Perfect end to a morning walk in the weekend, the markets are packed with pastries, crepes, baked goods and coffee. You can also pick up fresh produce here too!
Must try: roll from the chorizo BBQ stall, freshly baked croissants, freshly squeezed juice
Price range: $-$$
Address: 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland

This is my absolute favourite cheap eat in Auckland. Not only can you get yourself a great big meal for under $15, there are also a million food and drink options on the menu. Despite the huge selection, my default is always C13 - panfried chicken with lemongrass on vermicelli.
Must try: C13, taro and sticky rice with coconut cream
Price range: $
Address: 55 Nuffield Street, Newmarket (and branches in Glenfield, City, and Panmure)

You haven't had high tea, unless you've had this high tea. Previously known as the 1920s themed Prohibition, Brownstone is the second name change since I left 18 months ago. Despite its fickleness with its name, the high tea is still excellent, especially in the low light, plush chairs, prohibition-era setting.
Must try: high tea
Price range: $$$
Address: 108 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland


With a view overlooking St Heliers Bay (the far superior neighbour to Mission Bay), you would be a fool to sit inside the restaurant. Annabelle's has a very standard breakfast menu with all the items you'd expect to see, but they are known for their beef and lamb.
Must try: eggs benedict
Price range: $$-$$$
Address: 409 Tamaki Drive, St Heliers, Auckland

I think this is the best hand-made ice cream in all of Auckland. Better yet, you'll find it in this tiny little shop off the main strip. This is exactly what NZ ice cream is all about - definitely on par with Kapiti ice cream, if not, dare I say it, better. Pick up an ice cream and go for a stroll along the beach. Bliss.
Must try: butterscotch fudge
Price range: $
Address: 8 Maheke Street, St Heliers, Auckland

It's probably the most hyped restaurant in Auckland in the past 18 months since I've left. For good reason too. They've opened up the same chain in Sydney in Surry Hills, and having tried both I can say that it is definitely done better in Auckland than in Sydney. The fried chicken is fun, and the tacos are pretty damn tasty. Wash it down with some margaritas and that's considered a cheap and fun meal.
Must try: fried chicken
Price range: $$
Address: 23 Britomart Place, Britomart, Auckland

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Perfect for: A mid afternoon drink with some mates
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 8.5/10
Food: 7/10 Service: 9/10 Ambience: 10/10

Little Creatures is an Australian beer brewing brand, started in Western Australia almost 15 years ago. Since then, it has opened up another brewery in Victoria and a couple of "drink and nibble" places in Fremantle and Melbourne. 

I love this not-so-little spot in Melbourne, as it's a converted warehouse in the centre of where all the action on Brunswick Street. The atmosphere is relaxed, the wait and bar staff are friendly and everyone is there to have a sip, a nibble and generally a chilled time.

I'm not much of a beer expert myself, so naturally I order a cider and a couple of share plates. The last time I was here was in 2009, and I distinctly remember the dahl and flatbread, so that was a must-order. The calamari salad was to test out my cholesterol levels.

Pan fried calamari, citrus fennel salad.

The calamari salad is delicious - not too heavy as the citrus and the salad help cut through the pan-fried calamari.

But if you're after something more substantial, I'd probably go for the dahl. Contrary to my memory in 2009, there was nothing overly special or memorable about it - it is just another dahl.

Spiced red lentil dahl, yoghurt, grilled flat bread.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Modern Australian / Bar
Address: 222 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-late, Sat-Sun 8am-late

Sunday, February 24, 2013


BRUNCH @ Orto Trading Co.

Perfect for: A lazy or hungover Saturday morning meal
Hot tip: Reserve a table outside on a nice summer's day if you can
Must try: Try the juices - they're delicious. Watch out for the paper straws - while they might be rad, they're likely to disintegrate so don't be too shy to ask for a new one. 
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 8/10
Food: 8/10 Service: 5/10 Ambience: 10/10

I've told you all about what I think of dinner @ Orto Trading Co. the first time I came here, but brunch here actually feels very different (apart from the fact that it's during the day, of course).

I think the DNA of this place feels more like a cafe, rather than a bar / restaurant, so naturally I felt more at home when I came here the second time for brunch. The outside courtyard is more than perfect when you just want a nice dose of vitamin D with your coffee and eggs, and the place is usually buzzing on the weekend for brunch which just adds to the fun.

Passionfruit, lime and mint juice. Flat white.

I really like coming to this place for its food and drinks, but the ONLY thing that really lets this place down is the service. I go to brunch on a Saturday morning to be put in a good mood, but  the poor service here often does the complete opposite for me. Here, you really have to call out to the waiters, maybe twice even, before you get any attention from the cool dudes wearing cut-off denims. And even then, you might still need to wait a good ten minutes before you get your replacement straw.

The service aside, I really do think the food and the drinks at Orto are excellent. It probably has some of the best juices I've had in Sydney, and it's up against some giants especially in the Surry Hills area.

Tomato, avocado and basil on toast.

When we were here last (and we're here pretty regularly for both breakfast and dinner since it's only a couple of blocks away from where I live), there was a mixture of things ordered, but the most interesting two were definitely the breakfast platter and the corn fritters with ceviche. I had the corn fritters myself, and I thought the fritters were a little bit doughy, but I really enjoyed the combination with ceviche which was quite a bold move - my tip would be to sprinkle on a fair bit of salt because both ceviche and fritters aren't overpowering ingredients on this dish, so it could be a little bit bland without a bit of salt.

Eggs benedict with Berkshire Gypsy ham.

Breakfast platter with soft-boiled eggs, soldiers, muesli, baked ricotta and poached fruits.

Corn fritters with ceviche.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Address: 38/52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills
Near: The Belvoir St Theatre - why not watch a show while you're close? 
Hours: Tue-Sat 8am-3pm 6-10pm, Sun 8am-3pm, Closed Mondays

WEBSITE | MENU | Orto Trading Co. on Urbanspoon 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Perfect for: A team bonding dinner with some good colleagues from work
Hot tip: Book in advance - they're always busy.
Price range: $$$ Exxy
My rating: 8.5/10
Food: 8/10 Service: 9/10 Ambience: 9/10

Red Lantern on Crown came after its popular predecessor, Red Lantern on Riley in Darlinghurst. If you've got a winning formula and can't fit enough people in your restaurant, day in and day out, then why wouldn't you open up a new one?

As you guessed, it is just as popular as its older brother. Walk past on a regular night, you're unlikely to know it even exists on Crown since it's so well-concealed, but if you did, you're probably unlikely to get a table if you didn't already have a reservation. I've been lucky both times I've wondered past on a Tuesday night, and managed to sneak in a quick meal before those diligent enough to make a booking arrive for their table.

Crisp skin Burrawong pasture raised chicken poached in master stock with ginger and oyster sauce

Twice cooked crisp skin Burrawong duck with vermicelli, red cabbage and bamboo shoots

I think the food here is fantastic - full of flavour and really wakes up your tastebuds. I honestly don't think you can go wrong with any of the choices on the menu. What really impresses me about this place is their service - for a place that is so busy, they really are good at treating their customers well. The waitstaff are very attentive and readily tailor the menu items to your needs - for example, I really wanted to try both the dishes above but I couldn't possibly order both dishes, so the waitress said she would happily ask the chef to do half portions for me. 

Meal: Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Fusion Asian
Address: 545 Crown St, Surry Hills
Hours: Sat-Mon 6-10pm, Tue-Fri 12.30-3pm & 6pm-10pm

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Perfect for: A catch up with a friend on a sunny Sunday before wandering around the Glebe markets
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 7/10
Food: 7/10 Service: 8/10 Ambience: 8/10

Clipper Cafe is a cute little space on the bustling Glebe Point Road. If you're a sucker for retro bikes like me, this is the best place to be spotting them.

We went there on a busy Saturday where we had to wait ~20 minutes for a table. We were then seated at the large table, between others that had obviously also waited a while to get in for their Saturday morning brunch fix.

I tried the baked eggs with chorizo, while my friends all went for the more conventional bacon and eggs. I thought the baked eggs were not bad, but I also thought that the baked eggs I had at Fouratefive was a lot better.

What I really liked about Clipper Cafe was how nice both the interior was. It was decked out in quirky little pieces, there was even a bike hanging up inside! Outside the cafe, you would find funky wooden stools and tables just on the pavement, so if you were happy grabbing a coffee and a quick bite, then this would be your best bet.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Address: 16 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Near: The Glebe markets 

Clipper Café on Urbanspoon