Mar 25, 2022 Metro Eats
Last night I went to Birkenhead, because I was craving a Korean stew and insisted that the best of the cuisine is on the North Shore. So we trundled across the bridge and bundled ourselves into Yummy Korean BBQ on Mokoia Rd. The far wall was littered with photos of customers – not polaroids, but printed out specially, up for so long that the corners were all curled in with age. I ordered my favourite dish, gamjatang (감자탕), and the owner pointed out all the things on the menu I should order next time, like the ox bone soup. When the gamjatang came, he took a spoon and stirred in the perilla powder for me, ladling the pork bone out and placing it on a small dish, explaining the way to eat it. It was so lovely and genuine that I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d eaten the exact same dish at least 30 times before.
It’s these little things – like when the owner reached across our doorside table to turn the blue Open sign to Closed, carefully angling his arm so as not to disturb us – that I covet about these small restaurants. I think it comes down to the perception of nourishment over ego (though there is a legitimate argument for the over-romanticisation of family-owned restaurants), and the quietness of the whole experience.
Despite everything going on, I’ve had a really lovely eating week, both out and about and at home (I made my first risotto of the autumnal season! A baked pumpkin one I didn’t even have to stir a billion times), and I hope you have too.
If you existed in the world on Monday, it won’t come as a surprise that there are quite a few restaurants that have sustained flooding damage, including The Jefferson and Cassia in the central city, both on Fort Lane. With Cassia’s physical restaurant closed, the team have decided to pop up in Sid at the French Cafe, offering a five-course tasting menu Tuesdays-Saturdays till 15 April. One seating at 6.30pm, book firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a night street food market in the Junk N Disorderly car park in Balmoral tonight Friday 25 March, from 5.30pm – 9.30pm.
There’s a Meet the Makers market at Vondel, a Top 50 wine bar in Devonport, on Saturday 26 March. Expect ceramics, plants, cake and more.
The burger pop ups never end – a new name, Fat Daddy’s, is popping up at Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen till Saturday 26 March.
The government’s announcement this week means that hospitality venues can now seat up to 200 people (instead of 100) from today, and can choose whether or not they want to use vaccine passes (from 11.59pm on 4 April).
The next Broke Boy Taco pop up is on Sunday 3 April from 12pm-5pm at Ralph’s on Dom Rd, offering pollo (charred chicken) and asada (steak) options.
Additional reading: I’d recommend having a read of this stuff article by reporter Ripu Bhatia, about accessibility, specifically wheelchair accessibility, on the most popular hospitality strips in Auckland. Some of the places I’ve talked about and recommended in this newsletter would be inaccessible for them to visit.
I was super into the slice of black sesame basque cheesecake I had from Atelier Shu, a pastry shop in Parnell. Black sesame is one of my favourite flavours ever – so rich and earthy and moreish. It was cut through with a more neutral cream on top, and silky smooth.
We went to Sunny Town after visiting Yona Lee’s new exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery (which we’d recommend), which seems to have renamed itself as “Bao and Noodles” on the menu, though the Sunny Town sign outside remains. I had the pork rib noodles, and I especially liked the pork ribs themselves – braised and herbal, with plenty of gelatinous fat for flavour. I burned my fingers picking those things up, but worth it.
I had a great time at Beau Wine Bar in Ponsonby – it has a small courtyard out back which is not entirely known/visible from the front, but is nice and cosy. I love a good leisurely snack situation, and the lick-your-lips salty beef tartare with thin chips sticking up out of the meat like scales is perfect for that. The wine selection is pretty varied, and I’m kicking myself for forgetting to order the special by-the-glass option they had that night, a new Sato (big fan of these wines).
I just got home from devouring a smashburger from Burgernaut, Urbanaut Brewery’s burger arm (in the same cellar door). The single-pattied burger is very generous, a noticeable size bigger than comparable smash burgers (I swear it’s at least 0.5x bigger than the Baby G one) and is a lot of everything – crunchy chopped onion, butter, burger sauce. I rate it, and it’s especially better if you’re an Urbanaut beer fan.
It’s my birthday next Friday (yes, 1 April! An April Fools baby, and a hot-headed Aries), and because I’m #basic, I ordered one of these trending heart cakes from Zi, which I’m excited to put on the ‘gram and show everyone. Spinny had a whole article on the rise of these retro piped cakes.
My flatmate got her hands on four boxes of Cascatelli by Sporkful pastas, which you may be familiar with if you listened to the Sporkful podcast, about one man’s journey to create a brand new pasta shape. There is some pressure about cooking these, due to its notoriety and apparent superiority (judging from the reviews), so if anyone has any suggestions for what to pair this with, shoot ‘em through.
I’m going through a real gnocchi, burnt butter, sage kind of phase at the moment (I’ve indeed basically stripped our entire sage plant in the last two weeks), so this new dish from Bar Celeste looks extremely good to me. Potato gnocchi is a godsend because I can always use one of my favourite food writing words to describe them (“pillowy”).
There’s a new Cafe BBQ Duck (yes, another one!) going into Lorne Street (yes, another one on Lorne/High Street!) in the old La Couronne Cake Boutique space (RIP) at 5C Lorne St.
A new cafe from Jordan and Sarah MacDonald, Duo, just opened yesterday in the old Hinemoa Organic Cafe spot, on Hinemoa Street in Birkenhead. I don’t know much about it yet except that it serves Coffee Supreme and features a lot of sage Arnold Circus Stools.
Lucky 8, from the team behind Dominion Rd’s Mr Hao, is now open in Ponsonby (161 Ponsonby Rd), up the stairs where Wo Hop used to be. It’s all neon lighting, “Asian tapas”, and plenty of drinks on tap.
A new cafe in Manukau, Amble and Birch, is now open at 88 Plunket Avenue.
There’s a new cafe/eatery coming soon in Takapuna called Catch 21, the little sister of steak restaurant 21 Days (also on the Shore, in Browns Bay). Set to open on 1 April. It has my favourite-looking coffee machine, the Slayer (lol).