Feb 9, 2024 Metro Eats
Nau mai, haere mai. Happy lunar new year and welcome to Metro’s Pot Luck (formerly known as Metro Eats). My name’s Charlotte Muru-Lanning and I’m Metro’s new food editor.
If you’ve been reading Metro for a while, you’ll know that my predecessor, Jean Teng, was kind of a trailblazer of local food writing. I have to admit that there’s a hefty pressure that comes with taking on a role that has been so distinctly established by someone else — especially when I was such an avid reader.
In the lead-up to starting this role, I thought a lot about how someone like me (Māori, highly political and still slightly scarred from 10 years working FOH in hospo) could approach the job. On one level, my relationship with food is simple: when I’m cooking or eating, I’m at my happiest. At the same time, my feelings towards food are almost always enmeshed with thoughts and feelings that meander far beyond my own plate.
I’ve wondered about how to integrate my own approach to food writing — replete with terms like ‘politics’ or ‘history’ or ‘tino rangatiratanga’ — with an iconic magazine born of the fizzy neoliberal excesses of the 1980s, a magazine once known (according to Wikipedia) for its “general celebration of glitz, gossip and conspicuous consumption”. Clearly, Metro is and always has been much more than the sum of those three descriptors, but there’s no denying that they remain part of the magazine’s identity. How to reconcile the realities of food industry working conditions with glitz? How to bridge the worlds of many food communities with the world of gossip? How to talk openly about inequitable access to good food while indulging unashamedly in the joys of conspicuous consumption? At first glance none of this seems particularly compatible.
Oftentimes I’ve fretted that my approach to food writing borders on the cynical. But I’ve come to think that in actual fact I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic because I believe our food and dining culture is at its best when it isn’t divorced from the politics of food. This doesn’t mean always making food metaphorically heavy, but rather that we can appreciate food in all its light frivolity and deliciousness without ignoring how food both shapes and is shaped by culture. I have an ambition that eating food in Tāmaki Makaurau can be more than just delicious, it can be an expression of who we are as a city — shown through flavour, skill and creativity, yes, but also through how we treat each other and our environment, and how we honour the work that happens before a dish hits the plate.
Do I know exactly what that will look like in practice? Not really. But I’m excited to figure it out, one meal and conversation at a time. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy our slightly rejigged newsletter.
Comings and goings
What’s opened, closed or moved in Auckland’s dining scene.
I’ve made a mental note to visit Traditional Beijing Noodle, a northern Chinese restaurant that opened last month right next door to the Lido on Manukau Rd. The cold noodles with pear, egg, tomato, cucumber and coriander sound especially good.
Bianca is a new spot in Ellerslie village specialising in focaccia, pasta and cannoli from chef/owner Hayden Phiskie (formerly of Cotto and Ada ). I had lunch there a week ago and wholeheartedly vouch for their slices of focaccia — which are towering, delicious and come with an ever-changing variety of toppings. They’ve also just started a dinner service.
Sid and Chand Sahrawat’s Momofuku-esque spot Anise opened last week. The new smart-casual restaurant has taken over the lion’s share of the space at Sid at The French Café. Meanwhile, Sid at The French Café has been shrunk down to a 35-seat private dining room and returned to its original name: The French Café.
Last week also saw the opening of Advieh, a new Middle Eastern spot under the guidance of partner chef Gareth Stewart at the brand-new InterContinental in downtown Auckland.
Consider me intrigued by the glamorous-sounding “couture donuts” at Deverauxs, which has just opened in the middle of Newmarket.
It looks like a new spot called Ruru Bakery has just opened in Kiin Thai’s old space on Mount Eden Road.
The swish rooftop bar Darling on Drake is now open on Drake St in the central city.
You’ll find takeaway pizza by the slice and various kinds of cannoli at Rosalia’s in Eden Terrace, from the three-person team behind Parade. Their condensed trading hours (12–3pm) means there’s rarely not a crowd mooching out the front when they’re in service.
There’s a new and ultra-sleek-looking late-night (open till 3am some days!) bar and restaurant called The Nightcar on Queen St. They’re offering an extensive drinks list and modern Chinese food that’s heavily inspired by northwestern Chinese cuisine.
The fit-out at The Emerald — a green-tinged restaurant and cocktail bar that’s just opened in Greenwoods Corner, Epsom — looks like the definition of lush.
Central Vietnamese restaurant Saigonz has reopened (in the same location) almost a year to the day since they closed due to damage from the Auckland floods.
Sandwich enthusiasts rejoice! Celeste lunchtime offshoot Gloria’s shut down at the end of last year, but they’ve found a new home at Commercial Bay, with the opening date TBC.
Hill House Cafe , famous for their cinnabuns (and one of Metro’s Top 50 Cafes of 2023), has announced they’re “facing imminent closure” due to a planned seismic upgrade project by Auckland Council, which owns the Nathan Homestead which houses the cafe.
It’s the end of an era for an icon in Auckland’s cake culture. The City Cake Company, in Mt Eden, shut shop last week after going into liquidation.
The new season of The Great Kiwi Bake Off
The ‘Will You Free My Palestine’ restaurant initiative for Valentine’s Day
Going out for really big plates of seafood to be eaten messily with your hands — Mr Hao and Manaia Seafood Boil are respectively my favourite places for this in the city.
The Tom Yum Noodle Mor Fai at Kiin Thai Kitchen
Cold dinners — Think ota ika, tuna sandwiches, curd rice, zaru soba, caesar salads or just whatever you had for dinner last night straight from the fridge.
Loyalty cards, especially the app variety
Angsting over Valentine’s Day bookings — It’s okay to eat in, eat alone or do a belated date night out. Or even to do nothing at all.
The lack of sandwiches across the city
Purposefully weak/meagrely flavoured canned drinks
Oysters being the only raw shellfish on menus (kina and mussels exist too)
That lingering feeling of regret over missing out on the kai at Waitangi
From the Archive
Apologies to ‘you go girl’