Comedian James Roque is one of 29 revolving guests making an appearance during Silo Theatre’s The Blind Date Project, 29 Aug – 21 Sept at Q Theatre. You can also catch him at Basement Theatre with Boy Mestizo, 1 – 5 October. Here's what he ate last week.
Right off the bat, I’m going to be upfront with you. The first half of the week was hectic for me, with countless tasks for other projects to juggle [including PINAY, a play about a Filipino family in New Zealand which finished its run on Saturday]. So it’s safe to say my diet was somewhat of a mess - a combination of fast food and takeaways with the occasional treat. Now I could just easily lie to you and say that I had interesting meals at super trendy spots around town all week, but what’s the fun in that? Here’s what went into my puku this week (please don’t tell my doctor):
So this was the beginning of a very intense 48 hours. We had tech day for the show so I spent all day cooped up inside a dark theatre staring at theatre lights deciding whether or not they looked good. I spent all of the day fuelling up on baked goods that were brought in by our producer and for dinner I had a delicious C n Cheese from Burger Fuel Queen Street with a side of kumara chips. I remember when we first got Burger Fuel around my hood in Glenfield growing up – it was a huge deal. It was before the wave of cool burger joints. It still holds quite a weirdly special place in my heart and stomach.
Okay – so this day was even worse diet-wise and level of busyness! I was so stressed that I skipped lunch all together and functioned off one large Up n Go and peanut butter and toast for most of the day. However just before my show PINAY opened, I sprinted to the Metro on Queen Street and snagged some sushi from Matsu Sushi. It did the trick and I made it through our opening night show. This might catch a bit of flack because it’s technically food court sushi – but guess what, I’m not a fancy boy and I just love food, and I reckon their skewers and fire salmon sushi are absolute bangers. The fire salmon sushi in particular, are little tiny bites of heaven with their combination of Japanese mayo and the charcoal-y taste of the grilled salmon. They have gotten me through many gigs and shows that I’ve performed in at The Classic, Basement or Q.
On the way home from the theatre, I may or may not have gotten a cheeseburger, pack of nuggets and a choc-caramel pie from Maccas (I most definitely did).
Now that the show had opened, I could finally breathe. So that day for lunch I whipped up some tuna, rice and veges for lunch. Look, I realise that that’s still an uber lazy meal but it’s still a step up from getting Maccas again.
For dinner, it was back to the theatre and back to good ol’ Metro food court for some kai. This time I was craving some pad thai so I went to Lime That in the Metro and honestly – the pad thai exceeded my expectations. It had an abundance of peanuts, the noodles with perfect consistency, the chicken wasn’t dry (which is SUPER common for pad thai, I find) and they didn’t go overboard with the coriander. It was the perfect pre-show meal. I’d go there again for sure.
Thursday! After the gym it was lunchtime so on the way home I swung by Rocket Kebab in Mount Albert to pick up a kebab. Because what better way is there to top off lifting heavy stuff than to put more heavy stuff in you? I picked up a yummy mixed chicken and lamb kebab with sweet chilli and garlic yoghurt dressing. This is my local kebab joint and honestly, it has yet to fail me.
That night was also the first night I got to just stay home for a month, after a month of night rehearsals for shows. So what did I decide to do? Not stay home! Instead, I went on a date night with my partner Esther (shoutouts Esther) and we were craving ramen so we went to Chop Chop in Ponsonby Central. For those unaware Chop Chop is this dope little spot that does ramen bowls, street food and American Whiskey. My go-to bowl is the Pork Ramen and honestly, the broth in the ramen here is next level. It has these little cucumber slices in it that go nicely with the saltiness of the broth and pork. Plus strips of pork fat that adds so much more flavour to it. Esther got the beef brisket one and apparently they cook the beef for 12 hours and you could tell. It melted in your mouth and honestly it was so good I got a little mad at it. I’d also like to shoutout their fried corn balls. I went a little rogue and ordered them as entrees without consulting my partner first but when they arrived I had zero regrets. They were exactly what they sound like. Deep fried balls of clumped up corn covered in Japanese mayo and chilli. They were next level.
For dessert we wandered down to Duck Island ice cream to see what the fuss was about and holy smokes consider me fussed. I got the vegan chocolate brownie and the cherry buttermilk flavours and I was shook at how good it was. I can’t remember the last time I was that genuinely impressed by ice-cream. I was like “Ben and who?”
On Rebecca Black day (if you get this then congrats and welcome back to 2011), Esther and I went to Fort Greene for some coffee and a scone before work. We’ve had quite a busy couple of months so we’ve gotten used to this cute little ritual where I’ll drop her off to work but then have a quick stop here for a coffee. We like the baked goods here and you will too. My usual is the almond croissant.
For lunch I felt like a curry, but wanted to go to a new place I’d never been to so went to The Deccan in Morningside. My favourite Indian dish is the saagwala (spinach curry) and I tired their version of it (it was called Palak which I believe is the same thing but a different name for regional reasons? Don’t @ me) and it was really good. Great portions, the spinach sauce was rich and not too salty, the naan was fluffy and it even came in biodegradable containers so that gets extra points. Thumbs up from me.
This was my first proper day off in a long time. So after a lovely massage at St Lukes mall I picked up some cheeky sushi for lunch from St Pierre’s. A lot of you may have already closed this browser in reaction to this but to those still reading: I’ll have you knowthey can actually make really decent fast-food ish version of salmon sushi and I will defend it with all my heart.
For dinner that night I had back to back gigs at The Classic so I got some karaage chicken from Tanuki’s next door on Queen Street. Paired with the mayo that comes with it their fried chicken is so delicious and succulent and is exactly what I need before a long night’s work slangin’ jokes.
Here we are. Sunday. The final day of this diary. We’ve really got to know each other haven’t we? I’ve learnt that you had enough time to read all the way down here, and you’ve all learnt how much of a heart-risk my diet is when I get super busy. Again – please don’t tell my doctor.
On Sunday I woke up really missing my family so I decided to cook some Filipino food that my parents would usually make for me. I headed to the supermarket to do my weekly shop and stocked up on a bunch of Filipino supplies at Lim’s Supermarket in Mt Albert on the way home. It was freezing on Sunday so to warm up, I decided to make Beef Nilaga, a traditional Filipino beef and corn broth served with white rice. I looked up the recipe on how to make it (I am a terrible cook when it comes to my own people’s food but I am learning!) and whipped it together in around 3 hours. I served it up and instantly it takes me right back to the nilaga my mum and dad would make for me.
After a wild and busy week, it was nice to end it with a dish that brought me back home. That’s my favourite thing about food; its power to transport you somewhere else through taste. I started this week with a hectic theatre pack-in for a play and ended in a special bowl of soup. Both reminded me of my Filipino family. Both reminded me what’s actually most important for me.