Jul 28, 2023 Metro Eats
Even though I do not live in New York, I still enjoy reading about its weird new openings to fantasise about being in an ecosystem in which the strange and niche can survive, and even thrive. That is something that struck me most about my recent trip to Melbourne – hardly a revelation, sorry for being repetitive of everyone you know in your life who has ever gone somewhere not Auckland – that, you know, there’s a random deli selling only one specific type of Polish sausage and it has existed for 20 years or something. Grub Street brought my attention to two such pieces recently: one, about a restaurant two software engineers opened up and, in typical software-engineer-bro brain, decided they need to reinvent what food is, and this win-bar-slash-erotica-parlour, which celebrates the life of Anaïs Nin (author of 20th century feminist erotica) by also offering a curation of books published during her lifetime to purchase and read at the bar.
I’ve been asked many times what kind of restaurant I would open, and though this isn’t my usual answer, I feel that I would happily contribute something which encourages solo dining in this literary way – not just a quick food court meal, but somewhere you can linger. This isn’t very economically sound (hence it not being my real answer), but as someone who spends a lot of time alone – not in a sad way, well, only sometimes – I’m always searching for places where I can just, like, hang out by myself and read and have it not be totally unnatural (or totally tragic). The library is great for this, obviously, but doesn’t compare to the environment of, say, Auckland Central’s four-storey Borders which had many seats, lax staff, and a cafe to get a flat white in (there isn’t even a cafe by the Auckland Central library anymore!).I do think that it’s ultimately a cultural thing which is the driving force behind feeling uncomfortable sitting alone at a normal bar (being a woman only compounds this). We are very bad at being alone in a way I didn’t find in Asia. I still remember the one time I sat alone eating dinner at the chef’s counter in a restaurant in Auckland and they felt so sorry for me they sent out a dessert for free.
Metro x I Want To Be Happy, by Nightsong
From the 18th to 27th August, Nightsong’s I Want To Be Happy will be playing at the Herald Theatre in Aotea Centre. Tickets start from $29, and we’ll be giving away a double pass on Instagram next week. More on the show below:
Humour and pathos collide in I Want To Be Happy, created by Nightsong (Mr Red Light, Te Pō, The Worm) supported by Auckland Live and starring theatre greats Jennifer Ludlam and Joel Tobeck.
After all these years talking to each other and not understanding a word. Something slipped through. Something beyond words. Something from one heart to another.
Binka is a guinea pig in a laboratory cage. Paul is the lab assistant who looks after her. Neither understand each other. Yet everyday they share their hopes and fears. Binka wants to escape. Paul wants to get the love of his life back. Both just want to be happy again.
But how? When everything you’ve known is gone and you’re left with a broken heart? Sometimes the greatest gift you can give the person you love is to set them free.
Speaking about going to things, the winter festival Elemental AKL is on right now! You could, for example, attend a dinner and a show buy going to see Takurua – Ti’iti Sacred Knowledge. With food by Wallace Mua Frost (kingi) and Tausani Simei-Papali’i (Mudbrick), the show brings the mythology of Ti’iti’i – Atalaga to life.
ButterButter is popping up at Modicum Cafe on Upper Queen St this Saturday 29 July. Cakes, tarts, galettes and more – plus there will be flowers by Ruth Fiona too, if that’s your thing.
On the past rainy Sunday when things were so cold and bleak and was preceded by Jetstar cancelling my flight to Christchurch (not relevant to the review but relevant to the bleakness), we went to Sue Hsiao Liu Handmade Dim Sum. It is a tiny restaurant on Lorne St that fits less than 20 people inside and has a small menu that is anchored by the xiaolongbao. It was perfect for the outside misery: hot broth (but not nuclear) spilling out onto a shallow soup spoon, slurped up inelegantly after dipping it in a soy sauce and vinegar combination. The broth was fatty; you could see bits of it, and the skin had a nice thickness (or more appropriately, thinness). Of the noodles we ate, the best was definitely the spicy beef noodle soup – there’s just something about braised beef, one of the only instances in which it’s acceptable for meat to be falling apart like that. I would probably go here over Sunny Town (or is it Bao & Noodle now?) just up the road.
I went to the new Net Viet restaurant in Balmoral, and I just have to warn people here: do not get the banh mi. I repeat, do not get the banh mi. I would go back to try the pho and banh canh though, both of which look better from people’s pictures.
Forest is open now! Open during the daytime till 2pm as well as for dinner, Forest is a plant-based restaurant which has moved from its previous occupancy in Eden Terrace. During dinnertime it serves an a la carte menu, featuring dishes like kūmara with marmite cream, peas and capers; and pan-fried brussels with lentil cream, sticky coffee vinegar and mint. Forest is also one of the restaurants featured in our Restaurant Reckoning story, about why restaurateurs continue to open places for us to eat despite its many challenges, which you can read online now.
Bubble tea has finally infiltrated Ponsonby (you may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not sure where you could get it in Ponsonby before this), with Twentea opening at the new Rose Alley development. There is a Durian Latte (!!) and an Ice Milo, which suggests to me the owners are probably Malaysian.
There’s a new cafe in Mt Eden called Tupu’anga Coffee that serves coffee which was roasted in Tonga.