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Pot Luck — Friday 16 February

The Metro Dining Newsletter!

Pot Luck — Friday 16 February

Feb 16, 2024 Metro Eats

Last year I spent February 14 alone in a Polish restaurant in Sydney. As I took my seat right in the middle of the booked-out restaurant — metallic helium balloons bobbing in every spare cubic metre of air space, single rose stems peeping out of vases, a scattering of heart-shaped confetti and a pair of foil-wrapped chocolates (one for me, the other presumably for my sweetheart) on my candle-lit table — I realised I’d made a grave error of judgement. My attempt at a casual dinner had been rudely interrupted by the day of love and the many cute couples surrounding me. 

The thing is, despite the frantic Instagram messages I sent to my boyfriend (who was at home in Auckland) about my absurd predicament, my solo Valentine’s pierogi experience was actually quite lovely. 

I am nothing if not a cynic and so I understand that, for many, Valentine’s Day conjures unpleasant visions of smug couples doe-eyed across crisp squares of white tablecloth, demonstrations of love mediated by capitalism, unfulfilled expectations, impossible restaurant reservations, worship of romantic love over all other kinds, and a magnified sense of loneliness. That the day has now passed will be met with sighs of relief or casual ambivalence by most of us.

But Valentine’s is what we make of it, surely. And that’s why I feel that the disdain towards it borders on unfair, if not a waste of valuable anger and energy. Perhaps by imposing so much rigidity on this single day, we’re actually missing out?

In a world that urges us to remain nonchalant, cool and, most importantly, rational at all times, there’s something radical about celebrating all that is sentimental, sincere and sweet (in both senses of the word). Whether you’re in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day being technically over needn’t be a barrier to doing something surprising and nice for the people around you. Any day can be Valentine’s Day, and anyone (yourself included) can be your Valentine.

While these gestures shouldn’t be limited to things that are edible, for me food offerings are often the best way to go. By this I mean food wrapped in bows, dyed pink, heart shaped, relentlessly feminine or showered in flowers. The spirit of Valentine’s can be found in a bag of lollies bought for a sibling, a pancake breakfast for your flatmates, a text suggesting a coffee with a friend you’ve not seen in a ridiculously long time, a Cherry Blossom cake from Eve’s Pantry shared with a grandparent, a plate of hearts from Cazador , a single Baci left on a bedside table, a sachet of treats for your pet. E iti noa ana nā te aroha. Essentially, it’s about little morsels that convey care — none of which need to be mediated by heavy-handed commercialism. 

As we’ve seen this week, these morsels can be explicitly political. The ‘Will You Be My Palestine’ initiative that eateries and diners across the city took part in to raise money for aid in Gaza meant solidarity through watermelon-shaped cookies, coffee sales, sweets iced lovingly in red, green and white, and limited-edition Palestinian-influenced dinner menus. Proof that love can be shared through kai in so many different ways. To me, this is the true spirit of Valentine’s Day. (If you missed out on participating you can donate here.)

Among the humdrum and sometimes bleak nature of everyday life, Valentine’s Day is a necessary reminder to raise a toast to the sugary, cute, cheesy things in the world that make you go “aw”. 

From your Valentine,


Comings and goings


There’s a new food truck called That Sando Guy which has popped up in Mt Albert next to the Acecco (ex Lim) supermarket on New North Rd. From what I can tell, it’s an amalgamation of Japanese and Korean dishes with an assorted menu of donburi, sandos, burgers and fried chicken. Their ‘Peanut Butter Patty Melts’ burger sounds quite horrifying, but also like it’s probably quite yum.

Admittedly, Ōrewa is not a part of this city that I frequent. But I might just have to make a mission out to the Hibiscus Coast for a spot of shopping at the recently opened butchery and homestore Marrow.

Hong’s Korean Restaurant opened last month on Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna. The menu is extensive but I’m most excited by the Chinese Korean options like jajangmyeon, jjamppong and tangsuyuk. Happily for those who like to eat alone, but hate having to commit to a single menu item, there’s the option to split your plate between two dishes. 

Technically, this item doesn’t fit neatly into the ‘Comings and Goings’ category but it feels important to note that the Lantern Festival is returning next week after a four-year hiatus. It’ll be running from Thursday 22nd to Saturday 25th, 5pm–10.30pm, at the Manukau Sports Bowl.

Tupuanga Coffee in Mt Eden is now open till 10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Allegations of mismanagement, withheld tips and unpaid suppliers have cast a shadow over the unexpected closure of Karangahape Rd pasta restaurant Cotto in November last year. However, it looks like the place might be making a comeback — the restaurant has hinted that it will be reopening in the near future via a message tacked to their front door, and online bookings are available on their website from 20 February. Watch this space.

Taco Medic, a taco chain which expanded from a Queenstown food truck to four brick-and-mortar outlets across Queenstown and Auckland seems to have closed entirely in an extremely quiet fashion over the past few weeks. There’s been no announcements online about the closures but both the Ponsonby and Commercial Bay sites are for sale on Trade Me. 




Biang Biang City’s Lunar New Year Spicy Biang Biang Noodles with Yabbies (essentially crayfish)

Custard in a carton

The (temporary) return of Grapefruit and Lemon Frujus

Sal’s black garlic pizza

Buying nice wine at bargain prices. See: Everyday Wine Clearance Sale

Bear Gelato’s Lunar New Year limited-edition flavours

Being a rat at the supermarket, apparently




Seeing a rat at the supermarket

2024 is the year of the dinner party (obviously hot). But flaking on dinner parties is not

Plates that are too big

Equally, plates that are too small


Metro x RAD cafe



Approach Mount Eden Village from its northern edge and you’ll find RAD cafe: an oasis of exposed brick and plywood furniture with a view of Maungawhau from its sidewalk tables. The usual cafe suspects — granola, french toast, mushrooms, various versions of eggs, coffee, a cabinet of pastries and cakes — are all done really well here, and often with distinctive flourish to boot. What sets this cafe apart though, is that its menu is also brimming with dishes which trace their lineage to Vietnam. 

On this varied menu, the vermicelli noodles are a good place to start. Here, a tangle of rice noodles mingles with pickled daikon and carrots, julienned cucumber, slivers of chilli, peanuts, coriander, lemongrass wagyu beef (or mushrooms, if you’d prefer) and a zingy nước chấm dressing. Like all the best lunches, it’s a bowl that’s all at once tasty and virtuous. Then, of course, there are pillars of the cuisine — bánh mì and phở — each hitting the symmetrical notes of aromatic, heat, sweet, sourness, and fish-sauciness that Vietnamese kai is so famous for. Open seven days a week, from the early hours till mid afternoon, Rad is as perfect a spot for a coffee and cafe-fare as it is for a sparky bánh mì or bowl of noodles.

Go see!


Something You Didn’t Know You Needed


Liquid Salt!


Sal líquida de Manantial 300ml Sal de Añana, $9.90 from Sabato: There are, for no good reason, 10 varieties of salt inhabiting my kitchen. While diverse in size, texture and shape, all of these come in solid, pinchable form. Until very recently that is. Enter: liquid salt. Much more than a spray bottle of salt, from Basque Country in Spain, it’s a kitchen revelation — perfect for spritzing over steamed corn on the cob or grilled fish or salads on their way to the dining table or those nooks and crannies of a whole chicken ahead of roasting. Even so, the appeal is less about any of these practicalities than it is about the briny pizzazz this condiment brings to the kitchen. Because, why sprinkle your food with salt (boring) when you can give it a jaunty mist of salinity instead? (There is, of course, also always the option to make a DIY version.)

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