Feb 3, 2023 Metro Eats
This week, I’ve been watching Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (Shoplifters) new television show on Netflix, The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, which has somehow received zero promotion, and, indeed, didn’t even appear on my Netflix’s front page, despite it apparently being a 98% match for me. The title also made me believe it was a documentary, which it is very much not.
It is the most gentle and meditative watch known to me personally, and probably to most of mankind – a show which is, and I know this description is used to an aggravating frequency, very “life-affirming”. It treats food not as something to be revered on a pedestal, or admired from afar, but as a necessity of everyday life that has the potential to significantly alter the mood, and course, of your life.
Kore-eda’s work is always primarily about familial bonds, and my favourite thing about this show is how deftly he’s able to steer away from it feeling too cloying. While it delivers on the usual slow, sentimental food shots, of hands calmly chopping onions or the sizzle of eggs on the pan and the obligatory overtones of nostalgic eating that comes with the territory, Makanai is not only visually rich, but also an interesting insight into Kyoto’s geiko (geisha)/maiko (apprentice geisha) culture and the gender dynamics at play.
I also find it to be a balm to the fast-paced grandeur of other cooking content rife on Netflix and elsewhere; the competitions in which someone has to be the best, or the stories of people at the top of their industry. While those have its place, it’s been nice to view cooking through this lens: of joyous discovery and uncomplicated appreciation (the kind of uncriticality you can really only have when someone you know cooks for you). Do not watch while hungry, or while eating an underwhelming $8.99 Wicked Box from KFC (back in stores, baby, but at a shameful $1 more).
Hope everyone reading this in Auckland is safe and dry.
If you have some spare time these next few days, Kindness Collective are looking for volunteers at their Mount Eden hub as they pack up goods for people most affected by the floods. If you don’t, and want to donate, here are the things they do (and do not) need. Food wise, it looks like staples such as cereal, bread, cup noodles, canned corned beef, potatoes and bananas are most in need.
Obviously, the floods have had an impact on some restaurants’ ability to operate (such as Cassia , who are now popping up at the private room at the French Cafe). Auckland hospo group Lazy Susan have set up a fund which will go directly to hospitality operators.
When we needed to go to the packaging store to pick up something for our wine tasting last week, I used it as an excuse to drop by Avondale’s Burnt Butter Diner . I got a prawn omelette that came with a peanut-heavy, Sichuan-ish chilli oil and a side of flatbread (plus, a bonus side of crumpets). It was extremely yum; comforting and filling, but bright and zingy.
I’m not entirely sure if this is a “what’s good”, but a friend and I went to German restaurant Der Metz, in Kohimarama. It was my first time there; we were both somewhat amazed by the closeness of the sea and the accompanying refreshing ocean breeze. And the fact that the servers had to wear some sort of barmaid uniform (though the male equivalents could just wear black t-shirts). Schnitzel is my culinary enemy, and thus this was an attempt in some way to change my mind. Dear readers, it didn’t. We had the schnitzel with tomato and mushroom sauce that we had to heavily salt. The best part of it was the mashed potatoes, done with copious amounts of butter. We did somewhat enjoy the pork hock with sauerkraut and spatzle – a big knuckle of tender meat. I feel perhaps the fact I couldn’t down a stein alongside it severely dampened the usual experience had by other people.
I finally got to Ozone early enough to try some full-size croissants from Mor Bakery (I have previously only had the tiny ones at its Commercial Bay pop up). Funnily enough, I liked their smaller rectangular cheese pastries, all flaky and savoury – a perfect breakfast for someone who doesn’t normally partake in a meal that time of the day. (P.S. Mor Bakery recently collaborated with Duck Island to make croissant-flavoured ice cream.)
Me and a friend found ourselves in Herne Bay the other day, which on days when the Harbour Bridge is clear can practically feel like the North Shore. It was also rainy, the Thursday before the floods, so we felt like Korean. I always like dining at The Place in Takapuna, which has the classics as well as some large sharing platters such as bossam with oyster kimchi.
I went to Cordis’ buffet Eight to celebrate a friend’s birthday. There was a Lunar New Year’s special running, so there were a couple of extra goodies, like scampi and whole fish. My strategy for a buffet is always the same, and, in my opinion, correct: start with the expensive stuff; start with the raw seafood. I loaded up that first plate with oysters and sashimi. Imagine my horror when I got to our table only to find one of our friends, TY, had started out with a serving of Indian curry, rice and naan. Indian curry, rice and naan. At a buffet, with fresh fish and scotch fillet grilled to order. It was madness. He got roasted – badly. TY only had one more plate of food after that one. Do not be like TY. The Eight buffet can run you up to $149, so be smart.
There’s a new artisan bakery opening in Browns Bay town soon, called OFFA. Soon!
Coffee Supreme have just released three new canned coffee drinks: a long black, an oat flat white, and a cascara fizz. Of the three, the cascara fizz is the best – cascara is the skin of the coffee cherry, and Supreme have added lemon and vanilla, meaning it tastes like a coke ice cream float. It’s different from what else is out there; summery and refreshing. I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of the long black or oat flat white; the long black is too acidic for my taste, and I’m a, shock horror, dairy milk drinker (plus, it has that kind of can chalkiness that I’m not into). But, you know, try it out yourself and let me know what you think. (P.S. I was gifted some!).
There’s a new drinks place in Albany’s Corinthian Drive (where all the Chinese restaurants are) called Coconut Factory. I’m not 100% certain what type of drinks they serve here, except it looks bubble tea-adjacent, but probably with coconut milk instead.