Jul 7, 2023 Metro Eats
It’s always somehow really satisfying when I start to notice a specific ingredient, trend or dish start to pop up at places I dine at: y’know, the height of the ‘nduja craze, the heirloom tomato salads. Yesterday, I went to Pikuniku , a cafe in Greenlane, where one of the baked goods in its stocked cabinet was a coffee bun, which, up to about three months ago, I had never really seen in an Auckland cafe. In the last couple weeks, I’ve had three (the others were at Manis Bakery, in Ponsonby, and TOB Coffee in Rosedale).
I still remember the smell wafting out of PappaRoti while I was on holiday in Vietnam. PappaRoti is a chain of stores which originated in Malaysia that sells these famous coffee buns. It has a coffee caramel shell on the outside, while the inside is rich with a salted butter; the actual bread itself is soft and fluffy – a barely-there creation that, when warmed, melts in your mouth. (Try to get them hot and fresh out of the oven.) For some reason I find these extremely delicious and, appropriately, they’re the ideal snack to have alongside your after-lunch coffee: just a little something to inject some joy into your afternoon slump but not enough to ruin any sort of dinner. Maybe they’ll start to become more of a thing here.
In other (more exciting) news, our new issue is out in stores this coming Monday 10 July. Like with every issue, I recommend you buy one. It is possibly our biggest issue ever, somehow? Schools is on the cover, but the dining section is also very packed. Our Top 50 Cafes feature (now biannual due to our quarterly status) is in this one, sprawled over many pages, with pops of Bridget Daulby’s illustrations in between. There’s a fun Cafe style column by Yawynne Yem which pokes fun at the style tribes of Auckland’s most frequented fashionable cafes, and a Bloody Mary round-up, if you enjoy a boozy brunch. Also: eggs, with recipes by Freya from Pomona Deli, an in-depth reported feature about the many challenges people face when opening restaurants; Italian restaurant reviews; a look at Hawke’s Bay’s wine industry following the floods; and a taste test of Lay’s chips, where we plot them all on a fun graph.
Auckland has a couple of festivals coming up, one being Elemental AKL – which, as usual, has a line-up of “arts, beats and eats”. Have a look at what’s on the table for Eats. The other is the film festival, which doesn’t necessarily have a food-related bent to it, but I always find it a good excuse to grab a bite in the inner-city either pre- or post-movie.
Celebrate Matariki by learning how to cook with Peter Gordon at Homeland – you’ll make fry bread, plus a one-pot dish featuring hāngi pork and green-shell mussels. $95pp on 15 July. (While you’re there, have a look at the other cooking classes on offer – like this kid-friendly dumpling class).
It is Dry July – and as someone who does not really drink, I can offer some notes. If you’re at a place that offers NON, the non-alcoholic wine alternative, these are my personal rankings (yes, I have had them all):
- Non3: Toasted Cinnamon & Yuzu (easy, pleasant, most people should start here)
- Non2: Caramelised Pear & Kombu (ditto)
- Non4: Roasted Beetroot & Sansho (if you don’t like beetroot you won’t like this, but I enjoy the earthiness)
- Non1: Salted Raspberry & Chamomile (too sickly for me)
- Non7: Stewed Cherry & Coffee (the newest one to appear on Auckland’s menus – I’ve only had it once and it didn’t taste coffee-ish to me at all)
If a place doesn’t have any mocktails on the menu (or the one they have sounds like it sucks), I often just ask if they’d be willing to make me one – and if they don’t, and offer me orange juice instead, I will be all grumpy about it. If you want a non-alcoholic “version” of something you’re used to, I’d suggest beer over wine (apart from the NON stuff, which is not “wine” in the sense that it’s not traditionally made wine then had the alcohol removed). I taste tested 26 of them in a previous issue.
Simon liked the pork belly skewers at Maya BBQ on Dominion Rd. He ate about 15 of them. He also enjoyed the cumin fried rice. Also from him: “The current novelty burger at McDonald’s – the Barbecue Bandit – is proper good, with the always good McDonald’s BBQ sauce, mayo, a beef patty, bacon and some onion rings cutting the flavour and adding some crunch. Not too big, so could probably work as a mid-afternoon snack.”
If you’re ever in the Browns Bay area (god forbid), you should go get Korean food at Song Do – order the pork bone soup and the fried chicken.
Grocery radar: The Culley Kitchen’s Caesar Salad dressing is “very tasty”; the new Ben and Jerry’s Tiramisu, delicious (although the hard chocolate topper does not feel necessary and very hard to crack).
If you like tinned fish, or just enjoy seeing their labels and then the tins being opened from a top-down angle (extremely nice to look at), I recommend this TikTok account and her “Tinned Fish Talk” videos. Mei reviews tinned fish from around the world – and some of them can be really very fancy. We did a ranking of anchovies in the magazine a couple years back, and it surprised me then how different they can taste. In the last few years, tinned fish have taken off as a gourmet, food product – and accepted as something that can, and should, be served at restaurants. Several bars and restaurants even specialise in it, importing tins from all over the world.
Mor Bakery is opening a bricks-and-mortar store after popping up at all your favourite cafes and spots around Tāmaki. Although the location is currently unreleased, I am using context clues and guessing it is 158 Remuera Rd next to the Mt Hobson Dairy (though I could be wrong).
A new cafe has opened up on the top of Ponsonby Rd (at the Karangahape Rd intersection). Called Pilar, it looks like it’s serving Rocket Coffee, with plenty of items in the cabinet for a grab-and-go lunch.
A new cafe in Freemans Bay, Cafe Perch, has just opened at 25 Hargreaves St (serving eightthirty).
There is something called the “Rib Crib” on Queen St which serves Filipino fusion bbq food, and has an all-you-can-eat offering from $45 per person that includes unlimited ribs and unlimited pork adobo. (For a fancier “buffet”, try the Sunday Feast at viaduct restaurant Bivacco, which has a seafood station, charcuterie, roasted meats and more).