Shed 22, Princes Wharf, Auckland
What a location! This waterfront restaurant is situated on Princes Wharf right in the heart of Auckland city. We were greeted by an exceptionally friendly waiter and shown to our seats which were outside just meters away from the water. It was a hot day and umbrellas protected us. The vibe was formal yet somewhat relaxed, and we had plenty of space around our table. The outside tables are perfect for enjoying a fine meal, and even better for people watching! Initial impressions were impressive.
A meat lover’s dream ….. Seafood, red and white meat featured heavily on the euro dinner menu! Meats featured included oysters, fish, scampi, octopus, scallops, duck, pork, chicken, lamb and various cuts of beef… and that’s not listing everything! For dinner there is also the option of a 5-course degustation menu (chef’s choice) which is charged at $98pp. There was a separate menu for vegetarians comprising a garden section, and a market section. The beverage menu was extensive, and our waiter was a vocal wine enthusiast who very much guided us on which wines would complement the food we had chosen. We didn’t think the desert menu was extensive however dishes listed really did tickle our taste buds! Valrohna chocolate terrine…..whipped hazelnut panna cotta…. Have we got your attention yet?
We couldn’t go past the bluff oysters and ordered a dozen of them. They lived up to expectations of course – so sweet and flavoursome. We followed the oysters with the hand cut pappardelle with banana prawns and crab, and the torched scallops with green curry, granny smith apples and toasted peanuts. Whilst the scallops were delicious, the pappardelle was the stand out and went perfectly with the Chenin Blanc wine we ordered. We followed our entrees with the Wakanui grain finished scotch fillet (300g), Agria potato puree and slender stem broccoli. A peppercorn sauce accompanied our meat and whilst satisfying, it wasn’t the best cut of meat we’ve eaten. There was quite a bit of marbling and whilst this does add favour, it also made the cut quite chewy. The summer berry pavlova was the perfect end to our meal, complimented by a glass of the Chapoutier muscat.
A filling, flavoursome and expensive meal! The bluff oysters, entrees and wines were definitely the standout for us. There is no doubt patrons are paying for quality produce and a sensational location – euro is a great place to treat yourself on a sunny day/ evening! And if that sun does greet you and it’s not too cold, be sure to request a waterfront table. We’re confident you won’t be disappointed.
Address: 146 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
The vibe: An island vibe with wait staff who were dressed as though they were serving cocktails on a beach in Fiji. Very quirky and not your traditional Chinese restaurant.
We loved: The steamed buns with roasted pork belly and pickled cucumber were exceptional. The meat was moist and tender, and crackling even featured. If you’re a fish lover, the kingfish carpaccio dish was fantastic and consisted of nashi pear, smoked beetroot, rocket and kimchi sour salts. The flavour combination worked really well and the dish was the pick of the table.
What could be better: Acoustics. If you struggle with your hearing you may find it challenging on a busy night. We also thought that the wok fried black tiger prawn dish could have done with some additional seasoning, or a sauce.
Our rating: 9/10
Address: 61-73 Davis Crescent, Newmarket
Price guide: $$
Our ghosts visited this modern Japanese gem recently which is hidden behind a small street entrance. The interior is fantastic and it was obvious the owners invested heavily in ensuring diners receive an authentic experience.
Seafood is prominent on the menu and the tender teriyaki chicken with steamed buns was fabulous. We couldn’t go past the tempura prawns (which were excellent in size), and the sashimi. Eating raw prawns was new to us, but texture aside we were quite impressed with the flavour.
Service was friendly and fast, though language was a barrier throughout the evening. Banquet degustation menus were on offer however we felt that the more traditional Japanese dishes were listed on the a la carte menu.
In our opinion, if you’re a Japanese fan and not a vegetarian, Tatsumi is definitely worth a visit.
Address: Sky City Grand Hotel, 90 Federal Street, Auckland
Located on Federal Street and in the heart of Auckland, from the outside Masu is somewhat deceiving. The restaurant looked small however upon entering, we were quite taken with the length of the establishment. We were impressed at the size of the open kitchen, which was a hive of activity. Dishes were prepared in three separate areas – the sushi bar, the kitchen and the robata grill, and amongst the noise of the head chef yelling orders, all chefs and kitchenhands were very clearly aware of their specific role in the kitchen. Service was professional from the start and we were particularly impressed with the round tables which were assigned to larger groups.
The menu was designed for sharing and is broken up into sections – sushi bar, kitchen, and robata grill. This aligns with the separate food preparation areas in the kitchen and from sashimi to gyoza to tempura, all the Japanese favourites were there. There were also two set menu options, Masu Shomi and Masu Tokushen. Masu Tokushen is $120pp and the Masu Shomi option is $88pp. Both set menus require the whole table to order and showcase an excellent selection of dishes listed on the main menu. The menu is friendly to those who are gluten intolerant and a selection of dishes can be altered on request. If you’re not a seafood or meat lover, you may find the menu a little challenging.
Firstly, the presentation of dishes was absolutely first class. Secondly, we were in seafood heaven! Our table ordered the Masu Shomi set menu option. We started our evening with a ceviche spicy miso taco, and this was followed by sashimi including a salmon tartare which went with the homemade rice crackers. Set menu or not, we highly recommend the salmon tartare!! We then had a spicy sashimi tempura maki, followed by prawn and snapper gyoza’s and a spinach and grapefruit salad. The main dishes presented included Mount Cook king salmon with grapefruit miso and pickled cucumber, as well as lamb cutlets and broccoli. After over 1.5 hours eating (allow at least 2 hours for a set menu), we were presented with the most magnificent dessert platter. From chocolate and hazelnut pudding to an assortment of gelato’s and macarons, this dessert went down very well. We did think however that the dessert platter wasn’t as friendly when it came to sharing compared to other dishes. We accompanied our meal with a glass of the 2014 Cros Henri (Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc) and we were all in agreement that the Mount Cook king salmon was the winning dish.
Absolutely fabulous – we couldn’t fault the whole experience. Service was excellent, food was extremely fresh and flavoursome and the atmosphere was spot on. We’d be very surprised if Japanese cuisine fans weren’t impressed with Masu.
Address: 149 Quay Street, Cnr Lower Hobson and Quay Street, Viaduct Harbour
We were very impressed with the décor of this restaurant, which incorporates themes from countries including Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. Street food aromas fill the venue upon entry and the décor is chic and modern.
We were greeted by a friendly waiter who showed us promptly to our seats which were inside and next to an extremely noisy table of high pitched “tweens”. Given we could barely hear each other due to the screeches and somewhat challenging acoustics, we asked for another table and were promptly moved to a table in the enclosed area outside, which looks over the water. Heaters were in abundance and we certainly weren’t cold.
Whilst service was very prompt, we seemed to have been forgotten about when we were seated outside. We flagged the waitress multiple times and once we had her attention, we were very well looked after.
The menu lists an assortment of dishes, focusing specifically on Asian street food. From dumplings and buns, to BBQ and roast meals, dishes on offer included prawn and coriander crystal skin dumplings, peking duck, prawn toast and crispy fried sweet and sour pork. Banquet menus were available however it is worth noting that you must have at least four diners to order these.
The menu is broken up into sections – woktails, bits/ bites, raw/ cold cuts, dumplings/ buns, soups, hot starters, BBQ/ roast meals, curries, “a bit more”, rice/ vegetable/ salads, and refreshing/ sweet things. There were a lot of familiar Asian dishes on offer and those with dietary requirements are well looked after. Vegetarian and gluten free dishes are clearly marked within the menu and each section had at least one or two options available. Also, all curries can be provided gluten free and/ or dairy free on request.
After a tough choice, our table sampled the prawn crackers with chilli salt, char siu pork buns, the crispy soft shell crab, Chinese roast duck with plum and mandarin sauce, and the wok fried crispy hapuka dry curry. The pork buns were exceptional however the crispy soft shell crab was the standout. The serving was very generous and the sichuan pepper sauce was delectable! Be sure to coat the crab in the sauce (which is at the bottom of the dish) prior to eating as it can easily be missed. The duck was cooked to perfection however we found the plum sauce slightly bitter- the mandarin sauce was definitely the favourite among the group. We couldn’t fault the crispy hapuka dry curry… it was absolutely delicious! It is definitely a dish though for spice lovers so keep this in mind. The fish was moist and the accompanying ingredients (broccolini, peanut, mint, coriander and kaffir lime) really complimented it. We accompanied our food with a bottle of the 2014 Balancia Pinot Gris from the Hawkes Bay and we found it really complimented the spices we encountered throughout the evening. Overall, we were very impressed with the flavours, creativity and presentation of the dishes.
Delicious, delicious, delicious. White + Wongs never fails and is exceptionally consistent. We really liked the fact that the vibe was casual yet classy – you would not feel out of place if you were in formal evening attire, or jeans and a polo. We did not have to wait long for our meals and the service was prompt. The acoustics inside weren’t great so if you’re planning to visit, we’d highly recommend that you request a table out on the deck…. And with the summer months coming, we think this restaurant’s outdoor area is hard to beat.
Address: 259 Parnell Road, Parnell (Non Solo Pizza)
On arrival, Osteria looks like a small bar on Parnell Road… that is until you enter the premises, which is not small! Upon entry, we were greeted with a well-stocked bar, open kitchen, high tables with bar stools, and a great atmosphere. As we made our way down the walkway which was lined with bar tables, we found ourselves in a large indoor/ outdoor area which was the a la carte restaurant, Non Solo Pizza (NSP). NSP serves Italian dishes in a more formal environment and given we were after a quick meal (and the fact that NSP had a long waiting list!), we decided to sample dishes on offer at Osteria. The ambience was trendy, heaters were on and we were very impressed with our table which looked directly out onto Parnell Road.
The menu wasn’t extensive however definitely delivers if you’re after a casual and quick meal. The large selection of cheeses enables you to make your own cheese boards, and you can also make your own pizza. Within the menu there is a small plates section showcasing imported cold cuts, as well as a “crudo bar” section which lists seafood dishes (oysters, fish carpaccio and mussels to name a few). A number of panini selections were on offer as well as daily specials (risotto was available on the day we visited). In our opinion, we would be surprised if there wasn’t something on the menu that didn’t appeal (including to those with dietary requirements), and we were highly impressed with the offering considering we were in a bar setting.
We “built” a pizza and sampled the green lipped mussels. Our pizza was generous in size (probably 8 squares) and was served on a tomato and basil base. We added prosciutto, mushrooms, rocket and bocconcini however on reflection, we should have added a more flavoursome cheese. The ingredients were very fresh and we definitely got our flavour hit from the green lipped mussels. For $18, we felt that the mussel serving was very generous and they were accompanied with garlic croutons and a hot towel. The mussels had been steamed in garlic, chilli and white wine and the croutons were excellent for savouring the juices. We didn’t quite taste the garlic on the croutons however once they were dipped in the sauce; we definitely got our hit! We accompanied our meals with a glass of the Craggy Range “Gimblett Gravels” Syrah. We found the wine very peppery however thought it went well with the pizza.
We will be back. The service was very friendly and we appreciated the effort our waitress went to when explaining the menu. The only negative was that our water glasses weren’t topped up once. The food was fresh and really satisfied our requirements – a quick and easy meal in an environment which had a great ambience. We were impressed to see that pizzas were available to take-away, however we would highly recommend you dine in and enjoy the whole experience. Great for a date!
Yours in adventure,
Address: 100 Parnell Road, Parnell
We arrived to what almost seemed like a busy marketplace. We were impressed with the number of staff provided to cater for the masses – we counted at least 14 – and were especially impressed with their attire (striped shirts) which made them stand out. Despite the crowd, the waitress looking after seating guests was very much on the ball and quickly escorted us to our table. The interiors were fantastic and freshly baked delicacies were on show for all to see, and they seriously flirt with your taste buds! We really felt as though we were in a gourmet food market… the room was noisy and it is very hard to hear, but this all added to the ambience which we think the café is trying to achieve.
From porridge to french toast to smashed avocado’s on toast, the menu consists of well-known favourites which are made up of fresh produce and presented magnificently. The drinks menu is somewhat standard, however the food menu really does read well. Gluten free, vegan and vegetarian dishes are all clearly marked. The cabinet where you pay for your meals housed freshly baked pastries and sweets and these included chocolate paleo tart, white chocolate rocky road and melting moments.
We couldn’t go past the “Big Breakfast” which consisted of free range pork sausages, free range bacon, poached eggs, thyme mushrooms, artisan ciabatta bread, vine tomato’s pesto, and a light tomato based sauce (we couldn’t quite put our finger on it). We complimented our meal with an orange juice which was served with a purple flower on top – presentation was really impressive.
The size of our meal was substantial and the ingredients were superbly fresh. We felt that the sauce provided with the dish didn’t provide enough flavour – tomato chutney would have been a better option in our opinion. The dish was definitely a healthier take on a “big breakfast” and this was refreshing… hash browns were nowhere to be seen, the bacon wasn’t crispy and sausages weren’t fatty! We did think that a pinch of salt would have added to the dish and we’d highly recommend you add it prior starting your meal.
Another great brunch spot to add to Parnell’s growing offering. The presentation of the dishes really impressed us and the service was excellent – fast, friendly and helpful. The café is open for breakfast and lunch and if you’re meeting friends to catch-up, the acoustics aren’t very friendly during busy periods so do keep this in mind. We’re sure it would be a different experience visiting during off-peak times, or on weekdays, and we would recommend you do this… it may save your voice!
Address: 160 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
Sunflowers adorned the tables outside and as we walked through the doors, the presence of Thai aroma’s made our stomach’s do cartwheels. As we were led to our table, we passed by an open grill where the chef looked to be cooking satay skewers. Fresh fruit adorned the bar ready for the evening’s cocktail orders and we thought the restaurant was designed cleverly – there were separate areas which made us feel we weren’t sitting in one long room. Being the sister restaurant to Café Hanoi, we had high expectations and so far we were not disappointed.
The great thing about the menu was that it was short, easy to read and didn’t overwhelm us. It was presented simply on one page and consisted of grilled, smaller and larger dishes as well as side options. On one side of the menu there is picture with a caption explaining the background behind the menu (relating to the Head Chef and his personal life experiences), and the other listed the dishes on offer. There was also a separate “platter” option for $30 and this contained 5-6 dishes from the main menu. This seemed exceptionally good value except for the fact that it didn’t consist of the dishes that caught our eye on the main menu. Dishes were named as per their traditional Thai name however English explanations were provided underneath (luckily!).
From homemade pork crackling to wok seared pork spare ribs and tiger prawn cutlets with Thai glass noodles, the menu didn’t really feature traditional Thai dishes (as we know them) and this made for a unique culinary experience. It is worth noting that larger dishes are listed in order of spiciness – keep this in mind! Vegetarians are well catered for and tofu seemed to feature heavily. A dessert menu was presented following our entrée and main and this featured dishes including smoked Thai shortbread, sticky rice and an extensive list of dessert wines.
To start, we opted for the “kab moo” which was the homemade pork crackling followed by “miang pla” (grilled market fish on perilla leaves with vermicelli, peanuts, crispy shallots and nahm jim seafood sauce), and “lon phu nim” (fried soft shell crab with pickled crab and coconut sauce, dill and coriander). We followed our starters with “gaem wua sarm ros” which consisted of twice cooked beef cheeks with spicy pickle and tamarind sauce, and “mussaman gae” which was the classic Thai mussaman curry with lamb shoulder, kumara, pickled baby onions, peanuts and curry leaf. We complimented our dishes with sticky rice and a glass of the 2015 “Gotas de Mar” alberino.
Portion sizes were adequate and we could not fault the smaller and larger dishes we ordered. The homemade pork crackling was moreish however could have done with some added salt or flavouring. In our opinion though, the dishes we would recommend you try would be the market fish on perilla leaves, and the mussaman curry.
We were warned the mussaman curry would be spicy given it was listed towards the end of the larger meal section, however we were well able to cope with the heat and it was definitely bearable (coming from two people who aren’t fantastic with spice).
We couldn’t fault the service and the flavours really impressed us. Dishes were served quickly so if you’re in a rush or have somewhere to get to after your meal, Saan is a good option for you. The restaurant had a private dining room which would be good for corporate groups. The pricing is not what you’d pay at your local Thai takeaway – smaller dishes averaged $16 dollars and larger about $26, however as we mentioned above, Saan provided the best overall dining experience we’ve had this year. The flavours really wowed us!
Address: 226 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
The fire was burning and upon entering the restaurant, we were asked to see the Maître d who directed us to our seats. Service was fast and friendly and water options were presented to us almost immediately. The restaurant felt casual yet classy and there was great ambience. It’s rare to visit restaurants these days where the room feels spacious however we felt Prego’s tables were nicely spread, allowing for privacy and an enjoyable dining experience. An added bonus was that the acoustics were also impressive, making it easy for us to hear each other.
Reading the menu, which featured dish names written in Italian and an English explanation below, we were impressed with the large and varied selection of dishes on offer. Most dishes had a unique twist to them and from classic Italian favourites such as pasta, pizza and bruschetta, to a large selection of meat dishes which included whole snapper, veal shanks and crispy duck breast. We felt as though there would be something on the menu to appeal to even the fussiest of eaters. The pizza menu features all the favourites including margherita, capricciosa and marinara, and gluten free bases are available on request. On that note, the menu is very gluten free friendly, however probably not as friendly to vegetarians.
The beverage list is substantial and wines featured were mostly from New Zealand and Italy. They also had a cocktail list that read well – it took all our strength not to give in to temptation and start the evening with a Bellini cocktail (peach schnapps, white peach puree and prosecco)!
Short answer, we were blown away with the flavours. The bruschetta that some members of our group ordered to start consisted of a toasted baguette slice topped with wild rocket, truffle mascarpone and prosciutto. The truffle mascarpone was to die for and we only wish the dish was bigger. For mains we sampled the “Risotto All’anatra” which consisted of roast duck, mixed mushrooms, aged balsamic and grana padano. We also ordered the “Petto D’Anatra” which included crispy skin duck breast, puy lentil ragu, mushrooms, wilted spinach and a candied orange. Whilst the flavours in both dishes were fantastic, the risotto was the table favourite and had almost a smoky flavour – a must try if you enjoy duck and risotto. We would however recommend you get a side to accompany this dish as the portion size is quite significant and really consists of the one flavour. The candied oranges on the crispy skin duck were a nice touch and we were so impressed we are going to try and replicate them at home!
To complement our meals we had a bottle of the “Bannockburn” pinot noir, a wine which we believe never disappoints.
If you want to spoil yourself and sample some fantastic Italian flavours in a laid back setting, we highly recommend a visit to Prego. We couldn’t fault the service and we felt as though the dishes were creative and consisted of unique flavour combinations – all which worked exceptionally well together. It is worth noting that the restaurant dishes are not the price of your pizza take-away store on the corner – entrees averaged around $16, mains $30 and pizza’s $26, however we were very impressed with the whole experience and would highly recommend that you experience it for yourselves.
Also, take-out is available and they do not take bookings.
Address: 3 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden
We entered a venue which was a hive of activity and had excellence ambience. Once a community hall, the venue was strategically chosen as we were told that it is common for locals in the Pacific to gather for meals as a group in community halls. We were especially taken with the décor. Chairs were mismatched, as was the crockery. Whilst immaculately clean, some crockery was chipped (on purpose) and this was all to give the impression that you were in a community hall where locals had come together to have share a meal. Our first impression of service was impressive and the majority of wait and kitchen staff seemed to have South Pacific heritage. This was very helpful when it came to menu selection.
The restaurant was at capacity and because of this, the room was loud. If you struggle to hear, it’s worth keeping this in mind during peak times and asking for a strategically placed table.
Exciting and a real experience! There was a great summary on the front page of the menu which outlined the history of the restaurant and how it came about (we’ll leave you in anticipation). As we turned the pages, we felt as though we were in for a real experience. The menu lists dishes from a number of islands – Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii and the Cook Islands to name a few. Fresh seafood was very prominent, especially in the Starters section, and options included “Poke” which consisted of raw salmon, sesame, ginger and soy, and “Fish Cakes” which included apple crisps and mango aioli. The “Magiti (mains)” section provided a larger array of meat dishes in comparison to the Starters section and meats on offer included goat, fish, lamb ribs and brown sugar chicken. There were various traditional dessert options on offer and the drinks menu was adequate and contained a great selection of cocktails.
For starters we ordered the “Seafood Platter for 2”. We ordered this because it contained a number of traditional dishes within the Starters section of the menu which really took our fancy. The platter consisted of “Mussels” with miti and fresh chilli, “Poke” as mentioned above, and “Kokoda” which is a raw Fijian fish dish. Each dish was served cold and we devoured the Poke – this was our favourite. The other fish dishes were equally as delicious however were very coconut heavy – so if you aren’t a coconut fan do keep this in mind. For mains we had the following:
A fantastic experience! If you’re looking to experience something a little bit different, and taste flavours which really represent the beautiful South Pacific, do pay Kai Pasifika a visit. We will definitely be returning and are already looking forward to our next visit. Thanks to our follower Joy for the recommendation!