Mar 17, 2023 Metro Eats
Great news: there is another Metro magazine being released into the world next Thursday, 23 March.
As always, you’ll find a fair few food pages in that thing, much of it written by me (but not all of it!). It’s our big annual wine tasting, conducted over two days, led again by our head judge Oliver Styles with a panel of eight others. It’s a very comprehensive guide to some of the best wines money can buy – from $24 bottles to a $100 bottle – wrapped up in a Top 50 list. Each wine is accompanied by extensive, thoughtful notes from Olly, aided by the comments made by our panel, and, if nothing else, is worth a read as an impressive reflection of just all the many ways someone can describe wine, like “Coriander, sea spray, Hugo Boss, lovely apple-skin crunch”, “happy in itself”, or “canned corn and tyre fire”.
We also have another Top 50 list, of which the theme is a first for us: 50 of the best dishes to order in Auckland, presented with Stella Artois. This takes some of our favourite things to eat from across all our other top 50s (Eats under $25; Cafes; Restaurants) as well as a few others from outside that, plus some submissions from people in the industry. You may be familiar with a lot of these dishes already – we don’t make a secret of the things we love the most – but hopefully it achieves its aim of being handy and helpful; perhaps something you can save and pass on to someone new to Auckland so they can be introduced to the city properly.
Elsewhere in the food section is a Great Olive Oil Taste Test, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, ever since I’d noticed the prominence of a nice little drizzle on a nice little dessert at some of the best restaurants in Auckland. (Sometimes it can be more than a drizzle; I still remember this story my friend told me of someone tilting the plate of ganache at Bar Celeste so they could mop up the excess oil because they just couldn’t handle it.) We ended up tasting 31 olive oils, none of which were bad, but all of which were surprisingly quite different. Oh, and there’s also a charming piece on seafood chowder and the usual restaurant reviews.
Outside of food, our focus on this issue is Tāmaki’s (and, by extension, New Zealand’s, and, by extension of that, the world’s) cultural crisis. As Henry writes in the intro, “Sometimes evidence just seems to pile up. It may be circumstantial, anecdotal, with a low sample size. It may lack hard data, rigorous testing, a control group. But it’s become increasingly hard not to join the dots about the worrisome cultural state of the nation.” We write about theatre. We write about film. We write about music. We write about celebrities. And, we write about memes.
Consider buying one!
Cyclone Gabrielle: There are still plenty of not-sold-out venues taking part in Cooking Up a Storm, a dining initiative which aims to raise funds for those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, on Monday 20 March (usually hospo day off). Have a look at the full list here.
There are a few other Cyclone Gabrielle events about, some of which are sold out, such as the OOH-FA x Caker relief fundraiser, and Paris Butter x Sidart x Lillius x Sidart at the French Cafe x Homeland dinner, but you can also support via some non-specific events, such as Nourish Group x Foley Wines initiative where 50% of a la carte food purchases at Andiamo, Jervois Steak House and Shed 5 and 100% of purchases from a Foley wines list will be donated to a cyclone relief fund.
Plus: Thick patties! Is the tide turning? American-style burgers available from Baby G at East Street Hall today and next Friday 5pm-sell out.
I went to the new branch of Guangzhou Hotpot (the original is in Newmarket) in MidCity, on the second level, last night. What a strange location! The specialty here is hotpot, but since there were only two of us, we opted to share two of the claypot rice, which was less drenched in sauce that I’m used to – the sauce came on the side, as did the coriander and spring onion. Both versions – the beef brisket, and the chicken and salted fish – also came with half a salted egg. It was also the first time I’d seen the salted fish come in a full fillet – they’re usually broken up and dotted throughout the rice. Not bad at all! Also, open till 2am every night. Crazy.
By the way, yes, I’ve eaten at Lebanese Grocer on Pitt St two times now (I can still taste the garlicky toum in my mouth from lunch). The specials change weekly – last week, it was lamb, and this week it was chicken, wrapped in a pita with some fries and pickles. My favourite thus far though, still undefeated, is the falafel – crunchy, and beautifully spiced, and moist and fluffy on the inside. Great in a pita with a refreshing bite of tomato. You can also get these as a side, perhaps with a pickle plate.
I finally dragged my colleagues to the CBD branch of Sim’s Kitchen, after regaling them with tales of my exploits at the Onehunga spot for years. They seemed to like it – Simon said his Hainanese chicken was “comforting”. I had the chilli pan mee (!) and it was delicious.
Hot cross bun season! All the usual suspects are churning out their hot cross buns again, and since the commencement of my food writing gig, I’ve grown quite fond of them (my go-to hot cross bun used to be the chocolate or mocha one at Baker’s Delight, which I will still happily have if available to me).
Burger joint Lucky Gs is opening another branch in Onehunga on the 23 March. No addy yet, as per the Lucky G remit – keep an eye on the page, though, as it doesn’t usually stay secret for long.
Dumpling restaurant The Rolling Pin has rebranded its Onehunga store to Fong Kee Dim Sum, offering choose-your-own dim sum by the piece (sort of like sushi style, but for har gow and char siu bao).
Vegan cake studio Neat Cakes has recently opened a private space where Midnight Baker used to be on Dominion Rd. Though you generally have to order in advance to taste its goods, it also looks like they also occasionally throw open the doors for pop-ups.
A sizable Chinese restaurant called Sum Made just opened at 11 Davies Drive in Albany, which offers yum cha by day and other Cantonese favourites like roast meats (including a roast squab?), plus live seafood and even a $998 bowl of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (that’s suitable for between 18-22 people, by the way).
There’s a new waffle (and croffle) place in the central city on O’Connell St called The Wafflers, featuring flavours like matcha, Biscoff and more.
The Produce Company, which supplies fresh produce to restaurant kitchens across the country, has launched a delivery service called Foodbox, which sources its ingredients and products from local farmers, growers and seasonal markets. You can purchase fully customisable boxes, or individual products (#gifted!).