May 30, 2013 etc
By Anna King Shahab. Photos by Ken Downie.
There’s a sign on the corner of Carrick Place marking the start of Eden Valley. All bronzy and stylised, it’s a recent addition, not one of those flower-framed brick efforts from the borough days. Cross the road to Turkish Cuisine for puffy, homemade pide and baklava and a very good lamb iskender made by Karwan and Ismael Ismael, Kurds from Iraq. While you’re waiting, browse the tidy shelf of imported Turkish products for sale.
Down a little, Jeremy Schmid’s bistro Two Fifteen offers unpretentious, wonderfully well-executed meals, and then there’s his homemade charcuterie (which you can also buy to take home). This is one of the best places in town if you’re after a great piece of meat.
Around the corner on Walters Rd, you’ll find tapas joint Serafin, into which proprietor and chef Serafin Bueno directs his passion for Spanish cuisine. Bueno hails from Andalusia and dishes up the city’s best — and possibly only — fideua, a paella-like dish made with thin noodles. The menu changes often and when I visited, he was pondering sardines, which he wanted to serve the traditional way — baked, and served, on terracotta tiles.
Tucked in behind Serafin, Luckhi and Vijay Kalyanji have run Bulk Savings for 20 years. Second-generation Kiwis of Gujarati stock, they are vegetarian “for health, not religious, reasons”, says Luckhi. They call theirs a wholefoods store. Go there for anything from organic cacao nibs to smoked paprika and bulk cleaning products.
There are several regional Chinese cuisines represented in Eden Valley. Try the xiao long bao from Jolin — the famous puckered Shanghai dumplings, containing a generous pork filling and an intense savoury broth. Try other dishes too, but go with the knowledge that Shanghai food tends towards the oily and sweet.
At Xi’An Noodle Bar, order the hand-ripped noodles, the garlic and chilli-laced chilled noodles (rather unfortunately mistranslated as “chewed” noodles), and the “burgers” that have taken New York by storm: a kind of dense pita-like bread filled with meat (slow-cooked spiced lamb, pulled pork or beef) plus fiery roasted red chilli and coriander.
With the Northern and Western Chinese blossoming, Cantonese eateries are getting to be a dying breed, but Eden Valley still boasts a few roast duck and pork joints, the best being Golden Barbecue, where the hawker noodle and rice dishes are huge, piping hot and packed with delicious bits of roasted meat. It’s a favourite for local workers, as is the sushi (huge variety, by the piece) and donburi from the teeny tiny Yokoso.
Eden Valley is lucky enough to boast a fishmonger: Mt Eden Fisheries stocks a small range of good fresh fish and its fish and chips are pretty good, too.
Service is super smiley at Bangkok Cafe, a great place for a quick, cheap family meal — and they’re not too heavy-handed on the sugar that spoils so much Thai food in this city.
India Express does a very decent curry, of which Helen Clark was once a local fan. Don’t forget to call into the reliable stalwart Pandoro, whose five-grain loaf is still one of the best ways to down about a week’s worth of grains and seeds in one sitting.
The place to get great coffee is the refreshingly grungy Vinyl Cafe. They serve rich and nutty Coffee Supreme and an impressive big breakfast called the Vinyl Stack.
Anna King Shahab blogs at Eats By Anna.