close button

Pot Luck — Friday 19 April

The Metro Dining Newsletter

Pot Luck — Friday 19 April

Apr 19, 2024 Metro Eats

I spent last week in Sydney – in a constant loop of eating and drinking and wandering and catching trains. Part of the allure of travelling to Sydney is the mind-boggling array of cuisines and dining experiences in a place that’s relatively no-stress to travel to. And while my stupidly chaotic experience of flying home this week – long story short: multiple flight delays, a cancellation, being sent to the wrong hotel, four hours sleep, my boyfriend and I being placed on new flights at opposite ends of the day, an entire day waiting in an airport, and then the cherry on top, me leaving a bag in the Koru Lounge (in case this makes me seem less relatable, I was a guest) which subsequently got thrown away, presumably because, in the world of premium flyers, my lowly economy-class belongings look like literal trash – has challenged the idea that getting between the two places is always ‘easy’, my week of eating preceding that overshadowed any bitterness.

One of the peculiarities of dining in Sydney, are the easily distinguishable “ethnic” enclaves dotted around the city. This means that among the omnipresent Anglo-ness of the city as a whole, are small (and sometimes less small) culinary pockets where you’ll find Portuguese, or Greek, or Thai, or Italian, or Vietnamese, or Chinese, or Lebanese, or Russian, or Indian owned and operated restaurants, bakeries, cafes, bars and grocers clustered together. Tāmaki Makaurau has iterations of this of course, especially along Dominion, Sandringham and Great South Rd, but it’s far more distinct in Sydney, probably owing to the larger population (more than double that of Auckland’s), longer histories of settlement for immigrant communities and potentially, as some have argued, owing to a more segregated society. Whatever societal forces these enclaves reflect, they’re a pleasure to dip in and out of as an unbounded tourist in town and I have a particular affinity for Portuguese, Lebanese and Thai food – all of which Sydney is abundant with. I ate far beyond those three culinary traditions, but I’m going to quickly note my highlights within these three enclaves – like a mini directory in case you ever find yourself in Sydney.


Haymarket for Thai

Our first meal after arriving was lunch in a central city mall food court and consisted of perfectly hot chilli clams and ong choi dredged in oyster sauce at northern Thai joint At Thai: for me, a totally misty-eyed eating experience. About a six-minute walk away, we had a second lunch of barbecued seafood with nam jim at Yod, a busy standalone restaurant whose menu also leaned northern. On our last day we managed to fit in a quick visit to Caysorn Thai, a restaurant specialising in Southern Thai dishes, before heading to the airport. We ordered the kanoom jeen nam ya kati (a spicy blended coconut, kaffir and fish curry on wound up balls of rice noodle) and kao klook kapi (fried rice mixed with shrimp paste, sliced cucumber, sliced raw onion, deep-fried shrimp, shredded sour green mango, fresh chilli, sliced egg omelet and sweetened pork belly) – every single mouthful was unique and delicious. Had it not been for my flight dramas, this would have been the lingering final bite from this trip. 


Petersham for Portuguese

If you’re in Petersham you should go to Frango for a half-chicken meal (with chips and salad and extra sauce and a croquette), then you should pop across the road to Sweet Belem to try a couple of one of their many custardy Portuguese cakes with a coffee for afternoon tea. And while it’s just outside Petersham, Casa Do Benfica, a tennis club with a Portuguese restaurant inside it is worth a visit too. On the night we went, they were understaffed and so the food we ate was a little slow to come out and perhaps slightly on the overcooked side, but the Portuguese wine was cheap, they sold Super Bock and the ambience was cinematically old-fashioned, so I left happy.


Lakemba for Lebanese (and Palestinian)

On our first night we visited Lakemba, a suburb in Western Sydney. Our first stop was El-Manara, a 35-year-old (I think) restaurant where we had a mixed platter (which included kofta, tabouli, hummus, pickles, flat bread, kebbeh and olives) and a big floral-printed bowl of fattah (crispy bread topped with yoghurt, tahini and toasted slivers of almond). Luckily, the night we were there, social media superstar Yummy Yummy Knafeh was cooking and slicing up his famous giant tins of Knafeh Na’ameh or Knafeh Nabulsieh (crispy shredded phyllo pastry and sweet cheese soaked in sugar syrup). There was a long and growing line of customers out the front, and as soon as I tried my slice I understood why: this was maybe the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. From what I can tell, he moves around a bit so check on Instagram beforehand to make sure he’s cooking.


Often, when I return from overseas to Auckland, with its slow public transport and comparative smallness, I see it through gloom-tinted glasses. Without fail, I’ll end up lamenting the absence of the foods I’ve eaten overseas – weirdly, as someone who doesn’t eat a lot of biscuits in my normal life, both times I’ve returned from Sydney it’s been the lack of Greek and Italian biscuits like kourabiethes and ricciarelli that has hit the hardest. Usually, and thankfully, that feeling of disappointment eventually gives way to inspiration; not in a way where I hope to emulate what these overseas cities have, but more in a way where I start to imagine how we might travel around and eat and live in this city in the future, in our own unique way.

P.S. I’ve returned from Sydney with a new-found obsession with Violet Crumbles. If anyone has any leads on where I might find them in Aotearoa, they would be greatly appreciated. 

Also, the new issue of Metro is out now! Look for the Autumnal looking one with a stone sculpture of a moustached man (who is, despite my own initial assumptions, Andranik Ozanian not Stalin) on the cover, taken by Anna Rankin. Buy it in stores or online.


Comings and goings


Ponsonby Rd bar and Auckland’s best first date spot (in my opinion) Conch closed at the end of last month after 26 years. However, all is not lost as Swings and Ockhee owner Paulee has announced that he (and others) have bought the space and are in the process of transforming the space into Nami, a record bar which they’ve described as “a space for likeminded individuals to hang out and chill and listen to good tunes.” Cool!

Also on Ponsonby Rd, restaurant and bar Beau is set to open a deli next month. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying their Instagram which has a whole lot of nostalgia-inducing pictures of Ponsonby Rd in its many past iterations.

First Mates, Last Laugh opened this week at Westhaven Marina. It’s an all day eatery with harbour (and yacht) views and fittingly, the menu is heavy with seafood dishes. 

Lepak is a new Malaysian restaurant that’s recently opened in Elliott Stables. There’s not a lot of information online but they’re open from 11.30am to 9pm every day of the week and there are pictures of laksa and roti canai on their Instagram.

Toastie makers Cheese on Toast, which have shops in Birkenhead and Three Kings, have just opened a new outlet in Newmarket. The menu looks much the same as their previous iterations – which is a good thing because the creamed corn toastie is one of my most returned to sandwiches. 




Eating herrings, sardines and anchovies

Borjomi water

Artful napkin folds

This piece on fry bread

Eateries oriented around train stations

Violet Crumble

Bars that specialise in one kind of cocktail




The taste of Sydney tap water


Prime energy drinks. (Playground food trends are fickle: this time last year Prime was selling for upward of $20 per bottle – lately we’ve spotted bottles going for a dollar.)

The lack of fresh herbs across this city’s phở scene.

The lack of pink pickles across this city’s Lebanese mixed platter scene.

Menus that are cumbersome to hold and read.


Where we’re going


Karangahape Rd wine bar Tappo is hosting a wine release party with Amy and Olly Hopkinson-Styles of Halcyon Days to celebrate their latest 2023 release, Ceyx Chardonnay on Thursday 25 April (Anzac day) from 4pm. A special menu will also be curated by chef, Kaz Suzuki, and there will be a limited number of bottles available to purchase to take home.

For the next two weeks, Kylee Newton will be the chef in residence at Roses. Kylee is the author of The Modern Preserver and that passion for preserving is reflected in the menu which features fermented ketchup, plum jam, pickled radish, sardines and pickled pumpkin. 

Daphnes in Ponsonby is now doing breakfast! Their new morning menu is available from 7am from Wednesday-Friday, and from 8am on Saturdays and Sundays. The breakfast options range from an egg and cheese milk bun to taramasalata on toast – and there are options for kids too.

Jo Bro’s Burgers are partnering with some of the city’s most well-known chefs at Ponsonby Social Club for “Burger for Better” and one hundred percent of food sales profit will be donated to the Sir John Kirwan foundation. Michael Meredith’s “Masala Fried Chicken” burger (Masala Fried Chicken, Pineapple Slaw, Daikon, NZ Cheddar and Gochujang Mayo) is available 18-20 April, Sean Conolley’s “ Esther ’s Full Greek” (NZ Lamb Patty, Harissa, Garlic Toum, Cos Lettuce and grilled Saganaki with Honey and Chilli) is available 25-27 April and the Sir John Kirwan Foundation’s burger (Venetian Long Roll, Ohau wagyu and pork patty, provolone cheese, grilled capsicum, mustard and horseradish cream) is available for the whole of April. Check here for more information.


Napoleon Goods Giveaway!



Our Metro Autumn 2024 issue is now out on stands and inside is our noteworthy list of Top 50 wines to drink right now. To celebrate this, we have partnered with Napoleon Goods to give away a Horizon Stripe Chilly Bin and Coconut White Wine Chiller to one Metro reader, to keep their wines perfectly chilled.


To enter the draw to win this awesome giveaway, all you have to do is:

– Tag a friend and follow both @metromagnz and @napoleongoods. One tag = one entry

– Share this post in your stories and tag both @metromagnz and @napoleongoods for 5 extra entries

Plus, if you subscribe to Metro this week, you’ll receive 5 additional entries on top.

-The winner will be drawn on Wednesday 24th April at 12pm noon and contacted via DM. This draw is in no way affiliated with Instagram.


Shop Napoleon Goods with the Metro discount code: METRO15%

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