The Blue Breeze Inn (2)
146 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby. Ph 360-0303, thebluebreezeinn.co.nz.
Lunch & dinner 7 days. $$
Finalist, restaurateur of the year: Mark Wallbank
The men on the floor wear dinky Hawaiian shirts and are deliciously attentive; the women swoop and glide and look after you beautifully, too. The fitout’s also cool: a Hawaiian tiki bar, of all things, complete with its own mask motif. There are craft beers on tap, lots of rum and drinks you can slurp from a coconut. And there’s great food. Che Barrington has created a modern pan-Chinese menu fair sizzling with flavour, with dishes ranging from “spicy” (not very, really) to “stupidly spicy” (that’s more like it). The dumpling chefs are “Chinese trained”, the hotpots are heart-starting, and the pork buns, with steamed dough folded around slices of pork belly complete with crackling, give new meaning to magnificence. This happy place is big and bustling, and, as a bonus, out the back they run a noodle house called Chop Chop. It’s great too.
A favourite dish: Stir-fried wild boar, tofu and chilli bean paste.
Shared-plate options / Good for vegetarians / Free-range chicken and/or pork / Good seating outside / Private room / Takes large groups / Bar / Craft beer selection