23 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby. Ph 360-6262, moochowchow.co.nz.
Dinner Monday-Saturday. $$
Finalist, restaurateur of the year: Mark Wallbank /Finalist, best mid-size drinks list
You’re looked after at Moochowchow from the moment you walk in to the hustling, stylish, modern dining room. Start with a cocktail: they’re among the best in town. The menu’s Thai-inspired, and you get that perfect balance Thai food strives to achieve yet so often misses (in Auckland, anyway): salty, spicy, sweet and bitter. One raw prawn dish has a smack of fresh chilli that takes us straight back to Bangkok. Caramelised pork hock is the signature dish and there are some great curries too, but of course it’s not all meat: the Thai salads are excellent and the smoked tofu is exquisite. Proprietor Mark Wallbank and chef Che Barrington have opened The Blue Breeze Inn across the road but that hasn’t detracted from the Moo one little bit. With perfectly pitched service and a special commitment to tea service, the place has never been better.
A favourite dish: Crispy roll of pulled pork.
Shared-plate options / Good for vegetarians / Private room / Takes large groups