New Opening: Kiss Kiss
Words and photos (unless stated) by Alice Harbourne.
When we heard the trio behind Metro Top 10 Cheap Eat Chinoiserie and Top 50 Cafe L’Oeuf were opening a new all-day Thai eatery in February, we legged it to Balmoral to take a first look. A couple of months later and a drum shop off Dominion Rd has been given a complete makeover. Builder Nick Coldicut and architect Harriet Mildon-King have created a marshmallow pink and mint green playground of a dining hall that’s as mellow in the day as it is buzzing at night thanks to thoughtful changes in decor and lighting.
In the daytime, the menu features Thai variations on signature L’Oeuf dishes – black sticky rice with salted coconut cream, fresh nashi pear and black and white sesame snaps riffs off L’Oeufs lychee and banana rice dish “The Cambodian”, for example, while the Kaffir lime scotch egg gives The Nest‘s hero a run for its money. Meanwhile “black tarts” – made with activated charcoal and filled with pandan, lemon or salted caramel – sit alongside dulce de leche “bronuts” and other L’Oeuf home-baked goods for a cabinet less-ordinary.
At dusk, bright, floral vinyl tablecloths dress plywood tables, pink walls become more pink with fluoro lighting, and a menu of Thai-style cocktails wait to be discovered by the young-at-heart inside 90s viewfinder toys. Thai chef Panawat “Erk” Chotamungsa heads the kitchen with Northern Thai rice and noodle dishes each costing no more than $16. Rivalling Saan’s sai oua, Erk’s making his own traditional sausages and serving with naan phrik num dipping sauce. The whole deep fried snapper with tamarind, garlic and chilli (find Erk’s recipe here) is not to be missed; crispy textures, heat and a bit of table theatre make it fun and memorable.
The drinks list – day and night – is thoughtfully curated, with a special Kiss Kiss Brothers Beer on tap in addition to the full Brothers range in the fridge, a short list of interesting NZ and European wines all available by the glass, and house-made ice teas, lassis and kombucha.
Imaginative, grungy, effortlessly cool and unlike any other all-day eatery in Auckland, Kiss Kiss was well worth the wait.
1 Rocklands Ave
Kiss Kiss on Facebook