Cheap Eats 2015: Thai
Photo: Pok Pok Thai Street Food, supplied.
The best places in Auckland to eat Thai food for under $20.
438 New North Rd, Kingsland
With big sharp, sweet flavours and all the fragrance you hope for, @Bangkok sets a benchmark for Thai food that few others match. All the curries are good, especially the green curry with duck, and the pad thai is a welcome staple too. Don’t forget the sticky rice.
Food Alley, 9 Albert St, central city
Thai food’s getting better all over Auckland, but this stall in Food Alley is still one of the best. Marigold serves puckeringly tart food from Isaan, the north of Thailand — it’s pungent and sour and tangy — and you shouldn’t go past the heavenly larb, or the som tam, made with carrot rather than green papaya, and with a dressing that is equal parts sour and spicy.
POK POK THAI STREET FOOD
261 Karangahape Rd, Newton
Pok Pok is loud and crammed most of the time, possibly thanks to its BYO status: on weekends, it’s popular with raucous groups. We can’t blame them. We find it hard to go past the green papaya salad, the laab, the spicy and tender Southern Thai fried chicken, and most of all the massaman goat curry — a beautiful concoction of delicate spices and slow cooking.
Mercury Plaza, 23 Mercury Lane, Newton
Don’t be put off by the ambitious spread of cuisines here: it’s Isaan Thai and Vietnamese, but with all the Thai classics and some Malaysian dishes, too. The laksa is better than at many Malaysian eateries, packed with seafood and both vermicelli and egg noodles. But it’s the Isaan dishes we come for — the spicy chicken wing salad is $11 worth of heaven, and the nam tok neau is generous with both the grilled beef and chilli. Mop it all up with sticky rice.
12 Jellicoe St, Wynyard Quarter
Now here’s a dish to savour: Penang pedyang, a red curry of duck, pineapple, grapes, kaffir lime leaves, coconut cream and bird’s eye chillis with coconut rice. It’s excellent: silky and creamy, happily spicy, a little sweet and salty, with al dente veges and lashings of thinly sliced tender duck breast. And there’s lots more on the menu like that too.
TOP TEN THAI
237 Balmoral Rd, Balmoral
Back in Balmoral but thinking, maybe not more dumplings right now? Top Ten offers a good Thai alternative, with crisp, fresh flavours and that lovely way the sweet and the sharp play through each other in all good Southeast Asian food. It’s mainly takeaway with a few tables.