close button

Pot Luck — Friday 12 April

The Metro Dining Newsletter

Pot Luck — Friday 12 April

Apr 12, 2024 Metro Eats

This week, I’m writing from a sunny little desk inside the skinny row house I’m staying at in Sydney. I’m in the city for a short trip — just six days — and though I am mainly here to visit friends, there’s an enormous amount of eating happening. My approach to dining on trips like these borders on obsession: a manifestation of my most-stereotypical oldest sister/Virgo traits. I spend hours upon hours before a trip meticulously poring over articles and Reddit threads and restaurant Google profiles, booking restaurants, making priority lists, grouping restaurants by cuisine or physical proximity to each other, and drafting daily schedules featuring options for breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner. I’m not going to make an argument that this is a healthy way to be (either mentally, physically or spiritually) or a relaxing way to travel, but it is all very delicious. I’ll probably do the requisite, “what I ate in [insert city] newsletter next week”, but in the meantime I’m here today mostly to remind you of the imminent release of the latest issue of Metro, which will be on shelves on Monday! 

There’s a lot packed into the new issue. We found the 100 best things in Tāmaki Makaurau, from markets to clothing repair, fish shops to phone booths. There are features on the possible sale of Serato, the big Hui aa-Motu in January, the rise of Lontalius, the demise of The Pantograph Punch and the rehabilitation of the St James. Within the dining section, you’ll find the 50 best wines to drink now, a look at the state of fine dining in Tāmaki, a survey of the city’s raw fish dishes, reviews of supermarket salad dressings and three restaurant reviews for establishments serving snail noodles and mandu and pasta. Also, we’ve brought back Metroscopes and the classic Hot and Not list. Since I’m overseas at the moment, you’ll likely be able to flick through the magazine before I can — jealous!

Also, since the weather in Auckland at the moment seems to indicate an afternoon of baking — below we share a recipe from the new cookbook Alice in Cakeland, written by Paris Butter pastry chef and MasterChef contestant (and Metro contributor) Alice Taylor. I’m yet to bake anything from the book, but I can attest that it’s brimming with luscious photos of cakes and pastries and loaves and puddings — so hunger-inducing that after my first read-through I had to eat my lunch about three hours earlier than I normally would.


Comings and goings


Polynesian-style catering business Mama Sila has just opened a standalone buffet restaurant in Ōtāhuhu (next to the old bus depot and behind Taco Bell). They’re open for lunch and dinner service, Tuesday–Sunday, and from the looks of it the spread is abundant with raw seafood and dishes that span the Pacific.

Manurewa cafe and cinnabun haven Hill House Cafe , which was one of Metro’s Top 50 Cafes of 2023, announced at the end of January that they were “facing imminent closure” due to a planned seismic upgrade project by Auckland Council, which owns the Nathan Homestead that houses the cafe. They’ve since announced that their final day at the Manurewa site will be tomorrow (Saturday 13), which marks a huge loss for the local community. The good news, though, is that they’re taking over the cafe space at the Pah Homestead in Hillsborough from 16 April. Very bittersweet!

City Works Depot has a new Vietnamese coffee and bánh cafe called Phin. (Phin are the stainless-steel coffee-brewing devices you’ll typically find sitting atop your coffee cup in Vietnam, so I presume good coffee will be the focus here.)

After months of renovations, Ponsonby Rd Italian spot Farina has reopened with a spruced-up and expanded space (they’ve taken over the shop next door). They’ve also got a new menu, which includes a dessert that caught my eye the other day on Instagram because of its freakish beauty: the Amalfi cup. It’s a pile of homemade sorbet and outlandishly tall meringue all served in a martini glass.

Kazuya bakery offshoot Mizu Bread are bringing their sandos, swiss rolls and kare pan to the Central City. They’ve just opened a new store on Darby St (the street that Recycle Boutique and Mali Thai are on) — and just in case you were concerned, their Symonds St store persists.

Rosewood Grill Fusion Cuisine is a new lunch and dinner place in Howick. They’re BYO and have a menu that features a good number of dishes that look like they’re Vietnamese in origin, though not explicitly labelled as such. They offer, for example, “beef stew with rice” (which looks very much like bò kho), “special beef soup” (which looks like phở bò) and “lemon grass chicken with vermicelli” (bún gà nướng?).

As mentioned in a previous edition of Pot Luck, Tiger Burger on Dominion Rd shut shop recently. While they were unclear about whether the closure was permanent or temporary, word on the street is that it is permanent (at that location, at least) and that a new branch of No. 1 Lanzhou Ramen (which specialises in Lanzhou ramen and has an existing shop in the central city) is opening in the space. If you’ve not tried Lanzhou ramen before, you should go for a bowl — it’s yum. Here’s a short but helpful explainer on the dish’s origins and general aromatic make-up.

Flowers Restaurant is a just-opened cafe serving dumplings, rice-based meals and most incredibly, $5 jian bing made fresh to order. Find them at 61 Victoria St, central city.

There’s a new Italian joint called Little Italy on Halsey St in Wynyard Quarter. If you like pizza and pasta and views of water and yachts, this is the place for you. Just down the street in the Sofitel Hotel, Grape & Olive, a Mediterranean-style tapas bar, also opened recently. Can confirm there are both grapes and olives on the menu.

Dominion Rd yakitori and wine bar Omni , which has previously featured on Metro’s Top 50 Bars and Top 50 Restaurant lists, has announced its closure after four years of operating. In an Instagram post, owners Jamie Yeon and John Yip wrote, “The vision for Omni was always to bring something special to Auckland, we wanted to serve delicious food & drinks, have it be energetic, accessible and for our guests to be able to let their hair down.” Their final night of service will be 1 June, but, they added, “We have been working on a very special project… more on this later!”

Takapuna Asian fusion restaurant Zong Kitchen closed its doors recently and in its place, a new eatery called Lucky Life has appeared. From what I can tell from their Google profile, their menu seems to be a patchwork of Chinese regional cuisines, but especially heavy on Cantonese and Sichuan dishes.


Where we’re going


This Saturday (13 April) World of Flavours International Food Festival will be on at the Auckland Showgrounds in Epsom from 10am to 4pm. There will be food from “the Philippines, China, Korea, Japan, Mexico and so much more”, plus cultural performances. 

There will be more than 100 stalls offering traditional foods from around the world, arts and crafts, clothing and fair trade goods at CultureFest, which is taking place at Mt Roskill War Memorial Park from 11am to 5pm on Sunday, 14 April. 

Carnaval Latino is on from 10am to 3pm this Saturday at Freyberg Place in the central city, with stallholders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay offering food and crafts.

Tacoteca has launched a Sunday brunch which runs from 10.30am to 3pm with a new ‘Almuerzo’ menu. The menu includes 13 Mexican breakfast dishes and drinks — like enchiladas veracruz (three rolled corn tortillas in a black-bean sauce, filled with scrambled eggs, queso fresco and crema), huevos completos (two eggs fried or scrambled, chorizo, refried beans, salsa macha, guacamole and tortillas), café de olla (spiced coffee with cinnamon, star anise and cloves) and more. Bookings are recommended.


Recipe for olive oil cake by Alice Taylor



Images and text from Alice in Cakeland by Alice Taylor, photography by Lottie Hedley and Melanie Jenkins (Flash Studios), Allen and Unwin NZ, $45.

Olive oil, like sweetened condensed milk and brown butter, is one of my favourite ingredients to use in desserts. I love the peppery, savoury flavour that it lends. This cake is a great introduction to using olive oil in sweet dishes. It has a beautiful texture and is great served by itself, with mascarpone or even whipped ricotta.

275 ml (9.3 fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for greasing

1 cup caster sugar

2 cups self-raising flour

1/4 tsp table salt

2 eggs

250 ml (9 fl oz) whole milk

Preheat the oven to 170°C (315°F) fan bake. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, lightly coat the inside of a 21 cm (8 in) cake tin with oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until evenly combined. Add the flour and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and milk, and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared cake tin. 

Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the cake tin for at least 15 minutes before turning out. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. I have decorated it with a green basil olive oil and fennel fronds.


Pot Luck delivers free to the finest inboxes of Auckland every week(ish)!
Sign up to get it here


Latest issue shadow

Metro N°442 is Out Now.

In the Autumn 2024 issue of Metro we celebrate the best of Tāmaki Makaurau — 100 great things about life in Auckland, including our favourite florist, furniture store, cocktail, basketball court, tree, make-out spot, influencer, and psychic. The issue also includes the Metro Wine Awards, the battle over music technology company Serato, the end of The Pantograph Punch, the Billy Apple archives, a visit to Armenia, viral indie musician Lontalius, the state of fine dining, and the time we bombed West Auckland to kill a moth. Plus restaurants, movies, politics, astrology, and more.

Buy the latest issue