Jun 23, 2022 Metro Eats
Ngā mihi o Matariki, te tau hou Māori!
I’m back in New Zealand after my holiday overseas, a very good two weeks of 35-degree weather, eating, and clocking in a cool 20,000 daily steps on the ‘ole Health app. And although my fingers are all slow and creaky, I’m somewhat happy to feel the cold again and not be sweating every time I walk outside for more than two minutes.
Due to some scheduling issues (i.e. we pushed the deadline back), we went to print while I was in Singapore. It involved a lot of scrolling through PDFs on my tiny phone screen, zooming in to pick out straggling typos. And it means we’re out on stands today! A bright blue cover, so you can’t miss it. It’s our annual Schools special, but if that’s not your thing, then there are lots of other things that could be your thing. In my section, we go all in with a big bread special, with the main character being a full-on, days-long, several-categories-long Auckland bakery bread tasting. Carbs is my favourite food group, but it pushed even me to the limits; it’s lucky the bread was all so tasty. We fill out the section with features on rēwena, an exploration of bread through different cultures, an investigation into what bread is, and some tips for your home-baking.
And if you’re somehow reading this food newsletter but aren’t into food, then there’s other interesting features in the mix too, including a packed Arts section that includes Simon Denny and Karamia Müller’s new exhibition, Oscar Kightley on upcoming ATC play Dawn Raids and a look at the rise of independent publishers in Aotearoa. It’s our biggest issue ever, even bigger than the last time we said it was our biggest issue ever (this must be about the third time now, I think), and would look very nice on your coffee table and very nice as a gift, like, to a casual friend that you’re catching up with over coffee.
Also, not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m doing my best to be not insufferable in my intro by not talking about my travels, but if you would like to consume insufferable travel content, then scroll down to read all about the trip.
Young Chef Scholarship 2022
If you’re familiar with our Top 50 cycles, you may know we’re gearing up for Restaurant of the Year again – and that means we’re opening up for entries to our Young Chef scholarship, an initiative we started for the first time last year. A lack of physical awards ceremony meant we couldn’t celebrate this to the extent we’d have liked to, but barring something totally awful and unexpected happening, it will be happening this year. It will!
If you, or someone you know, would be interested in entering, you can find out more details and fill out the entry form here. We’ll give out the prize on awards night – which means the winner will get to go – plus a published recipe in the next issue, and $3000 NZD.
Homeland is hosting a dinner in associaton with the Franklin Local Board to highlight local producers in a four-course dinner. With the chefs using the producers’ ingredients, you’ll also get to hear a bit from the producers themselves directly.
As non-essential international travel is becoming a thing again, we’ll probably be seeing a few more overseas collabs between restaurants and chefs – like this one at Paris Butter , much in the future on 25 and 26 July, between Paris Butter and Julian Hills of Navi in Yarraville. 5 courses are $200.
Wanna read some restaurant reviews?
Alta , by me
Grand Harbour, by Sunita Patel
Goldie, by Henry Oliver
No. 7, a new coffee/sandwich spot on Pitt St, has just opened up this week. It’s a little hard to find as it’s hidden behind all the City Rail Link barriers adjacent to Beresford Square. We popped by for a coffee (by Coffee Supreme) and a tuna melt each – an easy, quick lunch during the weekday. They have natural wine too and open Friday/Saturday; the concept reminds me a bit (a lot) of Romeo’s down in Wellington.
There’s a food truck opening this weekend, parked behind a garage door, called Famous Eddy. It’s at 660 Dominion Rd, facing out into Halston, and is serving all-day breakfast and coffee. I live close by so will try it out and report back.
Burnt Butter Diner opened in Avondale recently, directly next door to gallery Moana Fresh. There are very nice sweet treats available, which were all gone by the time we got there. Coffee Supreme is filter-only (diner concept). Would recommend the smoked kahawai and crumpets, which were very moreish but not overwhelmingly so, with some sweet pickled red onion to cut everything through.
My colleagues visited Swings on Kitchener St (also new!) and apparently enjoyed the sandwiches and spicy chicken skewers a great deal – Henry’s only regret being that he didn’t add a hash brown to his Bulgogi sandwich and Lana felt she may have eaten the sandwich and skewer in the wrong order (for those wanting to do it the ‘right’ way by her, skewer first, then sandwich).
In more news, Simon has been unable to stop eating Burger King’s new loss-leader, the $3.50 Sweet’N’Spicy BBQ Burger which he claims is substantially elevated by the presence of wee crispy onion bits. He also claims it is the best short-run burger in the market since the KFC Doritos burger of 2016.
AF Drinks has opened an alcohol-free bottle shop, The Curious AF Bottle Shop, in Ponsonby Central. Open from tomorrow, it’s here for a limited time, stocking a range of alcohol-free pre-mixed drinks, spirits, wines, beers, ciders and, of course, AF. Each week focuses on a different kind of alcohol-free beverage, with tastings available.
Ponsonby bar Est.1901 has gone through a rebrand – it looks a little younger and cooler now, with a promise of a “fresh new twist.”
Machi Machi, a beverage brand (e.g. bubble tea) from Taiwan, has opened a new store in Albany (11/14 Corinthian Dr).
Baby G Burger are looking for new staff (front-of-house and kitchen) starting mid-July, which means it’s probably finally opening a permanent spot somewhere. Not sure where exactly, but sure it’ll all become clear soon.
There’s going to be a new Ethiopian restaurant opening in New Lynn called Gojo on the 1 July. Our only permanent Ethiopian restaurant, Cafe Abyssinia, closed last year, so this will be a welcome addition to Auckland.
Madame George looks to be gearing up to open their expansion next door, which will mean a bigger indoor dining room (it’s currently very limited).
Singapore has the echoes of home for me in many ways – my sister lives there; my parents speak in the exact same accent as the locals; and I’ve very much grown up with the smells and flavours of the local cuisine. But, still, it felt strange (and good) to be in a place where I was so unsure about everything: going against the tide of people as they swarm off the MRT, barely glancing as you fight your way through them, or taking a million years to pay the drinks person because you’re jangling foreign coins in your purse, hoping they don’t get angry.
In case anyone is heading over soon, here’s a summary of (some of) the things I personally ate, which should hopefully help anyone travelling there (or save for later!).
My first dinner was at Burnt Ends, which is an Australian barbeque restaurant (ish), where near on everything is cooked on the coals. There are a lot of small, rich bites, sauces galore, and little spoonfuls of caviar on top of things. Everything tasted really tasty and decadent, so much smokiness and bone marrow. I’d probably opt for the chef’s menu if I went back, as I think it’s easy to get the balance wrong here when you order on your own.
If you get sick of Singaporean food and want to see what’s up with the local wine scene, you could go to Wine RVLT, which stocks heaps of bottles from around the world, including a lot of New Zealand wines. Natural wines have a big showing. The food is also yum, perfect wine food (homemade chicken nuggets and sriracha, e.g.).
Singapore is known for its Peranakan food. A lot of people go to Candlenut, but my sister said she preferred Violet Oon. It was the first time I ate pong teh at a restaurant and not at my house’s dining table; I enjoyed the beef cheek rendang too.
The Coconut Club is super well known for its nasi lemak – every element is very well-executed, from the crunchy peanuts to the fried ikan bilis to the spicy sambal.
One of the best things I ate in Singapore was the chilli crab at Jumbo – you were forced to get super messy, with a bib handed to you at the beginning of the meal, and the amount of meat was so sweet and delicious. The mantou it comes with is perfect to soak up all the chilli sauce goodness; it’s, like, the ideal way to eat.
I didn’t get around to as many Hainanese chicken stalls as I’d hoped because there was a fresh chicken shortage in Singapore (yes, really), but I did manage to get some chicken from Tian Tian in Maxwell Food Centre, which was actually very good – it lived up to the hype, imo. So, so silky. The chilli sauce was bomb too.**
Prata (or roti canai as we call it in Malaysia) is something I miss a lot from this side of the world, and I loved the coin paratha at Sin Ming Roti Prata.
Not exactly a hawker stall, but hawker food-esque, I am a big fan of the Chilli Pan Mee at Chilli Pan Mee (Batu Rd). Go during the weekend because it’s an office area and there will be a huge line of workers during their lunch break.
We had mee hoon kueh at Ai Chi, a stall at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, another well known hawker centre. I’d recommend trying mee hoon kueh if you’ve never had before – it’s like a doughy, hand-torn noodle with an anchovy broth. My absolute favourite.
Apart from the other obvious hawker centres, like Newton’s Circus, I’d check out the huge one in Chinatown – you can do a lot of shopping while you’re there too, and get away from all those tourist traps on the ground level by the markets.
**You can read my piece on Hainanese chicken, published in the last issue of Metro, here.
The team at Nylon Coffee Roasters were extremely nice and passionate people, and I probably had the best filter coffee I had in Singapore there. I also think Maxi, which is about a 10-minute walk from Nylon, is worth a shot – a cute place (brimming with expats) where I had an excellent single-origin flat white… so fruity.
I really enjoyed Homeground Coffee Roasters in Joo Chiat (so much so I brought back a bag of beans with me), and nearby there’s Forty Hands, which has a really good tar sau pao, which is a steamed red bean bun.
People into coffee and cafes would probably be really into both Double Up in Bugis and Apartment Coffee. There’s a strong emphasis on filter coffee in many of the Singaporean cafes I went to, and especially at these two.
I also want to say a thank you to Naumi for hosting me for a couple nights while I was in Singapore! The hotel was in the middle of Bugis, right across the road from the famous Raffles Hotel, so it was a very ideal location to do touristy things like getting along to Orchard Road and Marina Bay Sands.
This newsletter is getting very, very long, so quickly, here are three major meals in Bangkok I would recommend checking out. Email me if you’d like the smaller street-food recos!
Jeh O Chula in Siam was my ideal first meal in Bangkok – the tom yum noodle soup was so, so delicious. There were just so many citrussy, acidic, herbal, spicy layers going on in the soup that my tastebuds started firing in all directions. Samrub Samrub is a fun, intimate dining experience, with lots of noise and cooking and laughter and plenty of delicious food. The chef will do the rounds to have a chat with you post-meal, musing about the dishes. Nasura is for a more quiet, meditative and formal dinner, with a lot of care and attention to detail, especially to tradition and paying homage to regional cuisine in Thailand.
Metro N°435 is Out Now!
Inside issue 435, our winter 2022 issue: schools, bread, and wine. We present our annual schools issue, where we crunch exam results, reflect on our students’ lost year, visit Rotorua Boys High School and investigate high school art; declare what the best bread in Auckland is (and muse about it a lot); and announce the Top 50 Wines of 2022.
Elsewhere, Hayden Donnell looks into Auckland Council’s proposal to exclude central city suburbs from its increased density plan under the guise of ‘special character’; and Lana Lopesi talks to families within Auckland’s inner-city Pasifika community.
Plus: Ruahei Demant, Peter the T.Rex, Gemma New, Mayoral odds, Efeso Collins with Bob Harvey, Auckland’s Coffee Wars, Karamia Muller and Simon Denny, Oscar Kightley, Haru Sameshima, Batanai Mashingaidze and Grace Bentley-Tsibuah, Mava Moayyed, Norman Kirk, Dr Joseph Parata Hawke (MNZM), and more!
Cover image: Emra Anson of Waitākere College photographed by Edith Amituanai.