Friday, January 28, 2011

Devonport, Auckland

Last Saturday, my partner had suggested us to visit Devonport again as we had been spending about 2 weekends in the city already. Whatever that we would like to see and shop are done. Therefore, for a change, we went to Devonport.

 The day started off with cloudy. As it is a summer here in New Zealand, there's quite a few more people are spending their time in Devonport because there's beach available at Devonport. Hence it took us quite awhile to find a parking. Finally we managed to get a parking near the port.

We got to see the view of Auckland City from the port. It was beautiful despite the cloudy weather.

Then we walked around to find a place for our lunch. It was already lunch time, and some of the places had already been fully packed with people. We always have this perception that the more people at the cafe/ restaurant, it means that the cafe/ restaurant is popular among the crowd. Therefore, we wanted to try out one of the restaurant at Devonport town. Unfortunately, there isn't any seating available. Hence we ended up with a cafe that runs by Asians instead.

I can't remember what is the cafe called, but it had quite nice environment, despite the waitress that making lots of noise while cleaning up the table. The cafe is practically being divided into two different sections. The cafe provides tables and chairs for those that are dining in, as well as sofas and coffee tables for those that opt to have drinks only at the cafe. Behind the area of the cafe, there's also a little playing table provided for the children who visited the cafe.

Since my partner and I decided to have tea time later with desserts, we ordered some light lunch from the cafe. My partner had ordered a samosa meanwhile I ordered a mushroom, ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Again, we both shared our lunch! Both the food that we ordered was quite good. Nothing to complain about. :)

Then we walk around the city again for window shopping. As we walked around the city, we stopped by the pharmacy as I spotted some nice hats. It is summer here in Auckland, it's good to get a hat to wear during a sunny day out. I had been looking high and low for a nice hat that suits me best. Finally I managed to buy a hat from Devonport pharmacy. Yippee... But unfortunately the hat was torn a little at the end of the day... Sobs...

As I mentioned from my previous post, there's this little shops that sells all sorts of foods and beverages from UK. My partner actually when in to look at the tea that he is interested, and I was just browsing around. Something caught my attention in the shop. It's the "Happy Hippo" biscuit by Kinder. (As you can see I'm an agent hippo... of course I am attracted to this biscuit... haha) We ended buying a box of 5 "Happy Hippo" biscuit as it is cheaper as compared to buying per pieces. I am yet to try it out. Once I had try it out, I shall blog about it.

Our last stop at Devonport, was the Devonport Stove Oven Bakery & Cafe for our tea time and desserts.

We were back again this time, as we can still remember how delicious lemon meringue pie and biscotti are. Therefore, we were back again to try it out to ensure the standard are still as good as last year. We wanted to buy the hazelnut biscotti, unfortunately hazelnut biscotti is not available in the stores. Hence, we ended up buying pistachio and cranberry biscotti.

We are glad that  the standard are still as good. Thumbs up!
You can also read my previous post about Devonport from here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Soto, Ponsonby Auckland

My partner's mum birthday falls in the month of January. As usual, my partner will be buying his mum a meal for that special day. He had suggested two different restaurant for the dinner which are Soto and Meredith restaurant. However, my partner's mum had chosen Soto as she preferred Japanese food. This year I am lucky to be able to tag along for the dinner as I am still here in Auckland together with them.

We went to Soto on last Sunday for the birthday celebration. As mentioned by my partner, this restaurant is almost always full. Therefore, it's better that reservations are being made to ensure there's seating available for that day. We had made our reservations at 6.30pm, however we arrived the restaurant at about 6.00pm. As we are still early, there's not much patrons in the restaurant. If I didn't remembered wrongly, there's only like 3 groups of patrons were in the restaurant.

I was told that this restaurant was converted from a historic house to a restaurant. Hence, the restaurant was situated at the housing area of Ponsonby. The overall ambiance of the restaurant is very authentic.

Since there's 3 of us, we had order 2 "Tensin" Style Japanese Set Menus, which were the A Taste of Everything and Soto Signature Selection sets. In addition to that 2 sets, we ordered 2 sets of pacific oysters platter.

There are three different oyster's sauce in the pacific oysters platter. Each oysters were served in a cocktail glasses with ponzu citrus sauce, Soto special sauce and spicy sauce. Since there's a total of 6 oysters, each of us got to eat 2 oysters each. I managed to try the oysters with ponzu citrus sauce and Soto special sauce. The oysters weren't very big, but it was very fresh and sweet.

A Taste of Everything set menu consists of:-
  • Japanese tapas: Fish panko katsu, omellete and beef karaage
  • Soto dressed Japanese green salad
  • White miso soup
  • 6 pcs of Sashimi, 2 sushi rolls and 2 pcs of Nigiri
  • Tempura vegetable, prawn, and fresh market fish
  • Manuka honey infused chicken teriyaki
  • Fillet of pork "Kushiage" skewer
  • Green tea ice cream and green tea

Meanwhile, Soto Signature Specials consists of:-
  • Japanese tapas: Fish panko katsu, omellete and beef karaage
  • Soto dressed seafood salad
  • Sansai Consomme
  • "New style" white sashimi and tuna tataki
  • 2 pcs of Nigiri sushi dressed and 2 pcs of rolled sushi
  • Paradise prawn filo tempura
  • White Warehou "Saikyou"
  • Manuka infused chicken terriyaki
  • Black sesame ice cream and green tea
Japanese tapas: Fish panko katsu, omellete and beef karaage

Soto dressed Japanese green salad

6 pcs of Sashimi, 2 sushi rolls and 2 pcs of Nigiri

Tempura vegetable, prawn, and fresh market fish & White Warehou "Saikyou"

Soto dressed seafood salad
"New style" white sashimi and tuna tataki & 2 pcs of Nigiri sushi dressed and 2 pcs of rolled sushi

Manuka honey infused chicken teriyaki, Fillet of pork "Kushiage" skewer & Paradise prawn filo tempura

Overall of both the "Tensin" Style Japanese Set Menus were very good. The dishes that caught my attention are the paradise prawn filo tempura and manuka infused chicken terriyaki. It was my first time seeing tempura with filo pastry, and it was very crunchy and flaky yet not oily at all. Meanwhile, the manuka infused chicken terriyaki was good too. Because it is infused with manuka, it's not very sweet. The taste both the saltiness and sweetness of manuka blends well totally with the chicken terriyaki. Besides, there's also fried onion being sprinkle on top.

When we were done with our sets, we ordered an additional dessert taster platter of three. We chosen the plum wine sorbet, japanese vodka "Momo shochu" poached spring fruits with kanten jelly and Japanese cheese cake. The first one that I had tasted was the plum wine sorbet. The first mouth tasted like cough medicine. However, after the second mouth, it taste so much better. Of all the three, I like their cheese cake the most. I would say it's a mousse cheese cake and the texture is really smooth that it melts in your mouth immediately.

The overall experience of Soto restaurant food and ambiance was really good. When my partner was paying the bill, he saw a flyer on the counter that promoting another new subsidiary opening of Soto restaurant, which is the Cocoro. It is a restaurant with different concepts where it serves only tapas or degustation meal. We will definately find a day to try it out and I will definately blog about it again.

13 St Marys Rd,

Phone: 09 360 0021

Monday, January 24, 2011


I am always a fan of musical movie. I remembered my first musical movie was Moulin Rouge which were featured by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. After watching it, immediately I know I'm loving it and will try to watch every musical drama if possible.

So far, I had watched a few musical movie which are Moulin Rouge, Love (mandarin version) and High School Musical. Meanwhile, I had also watched two musical theater which are Zingara (at Conrad Jupiters, Gold Coast) and Chicago (at Star City, Sydney).

Recently, Burlesque (pronounced as "Bur-les") was released in New Zealand's cinema on 13th January 2011. My partner and I went for the movie 18th January 2011 on the evening session at Hoyts. I personally think this is another good musical drama that may win a few awards in the coming Oscar.

This musical movie is about a small town girl, Ali (Christina Aguilera), from Iowa who bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles to get a singing or dancing job. She ended up being hired by Tess (Cher) in Burlesque Lounge. Meanwhile, Burlesque Lounge is facing financial and artistic challenges to keep the aging theater lounge alive. It talks about the journey of how Ali eventually become a center of attraction with her voice and helped Burlesque Lounge regains its popularity.

Should you a person who likes to watch musical movie, I strongly recommend you to watch. Thumbs up Burlesque!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Shoubu Japanese Bar & Restaurant, Parnell Auckland

When it comes to Japanese food, my partner and I will never be bored or afraid of having too much Japanese food in a row. It is one of our favourite cuisine. Last Sunday, we had our early lunch at Shoubu Japanese Bar & Restaurant at Parnell.

The restaurant opens at 11.30am and we were their first customers for that day. before we entered to their restaurant, we saw one of their Japanese staff was writing on the promotion board for their TODAY'S SPECIAL! As we walked up the stairs, we were greeted by their friendly Japanese staff. Since we were their first customers, we were allowed to seat at whichever place that we like. We choose to sit by the window as it was quite a sunny day.

The surrounding of the restaurant are being decorated with handmade dragonfly. Why dragonfly? I guess it used to be in their logo. Dragonfly can also be found printed in all their cutlery such as plates and cups.

We were then presented with their lunch menu with explanation by one of their Japanese staff. The pricing of the food is not expensive at all. It is very value for money. During their lunch hour, they have three different types of lunch set for you to choose. We chosen their NZD15 set lunch, which inclusive of 2 main selections, miso soup, salad, pickles of the day, rice and green tea.

I had chosen yasai tempura and sushi for myself, meanwhile my partner had selected sashimi and karaage chicken as the main.

We were first served with green tea, miso soup and salad. They have some seaweed in their miso soup but not the tofu. However, I discovered that they have some bits and pieces of salmon in the miso soup that makes the soups taste a little sweet as well. This is my first time seeing salmon in a miso soup. Very out of ordinary!

Then one of our mains were being served with rice and pickles. The total presentation of the food was quite good as there's some fencing and raft decorations available. Both myself and my partner always share our food together in order to get a taste of everything. Hence, I get to taste the sashimi that he had ordered.

As I put one of the salmon into my mouth and while chewing it, I start to feel like there's bones in the salmon sashimi in my mouth. And true enough, I found a small tiny bone in the salmon sashimi that I had. Of all the sashimi I had tasted so far (irregardless at which country), I never encounter any of this experience before. It is totally unacceptable to me. It may get me choke if I am not careful with it. In total there's three pieces of salmon sashimi and two pieces of it have bones in it. Kinda disappointed with that.

Apart from the salmon sashimi that I am disappointed, the rest of the foods were quite okay. I mean where can you find a lunch set of NZD15 with such a portion and the taste is also not too bad right? After all it still worth the money for NZD30 for 2 sets of lunch meal. What say you?

Shoubu Japanese Bar & Restaurant
279 Parnell Road,
Auckland City
Tel: 09 377 0200

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sharaku Japanese Restaurant, Auckland City

My partner and I had always been enjoying cuisines that are prepared traditionally with an authentic ambiance. Recently, someone had recommended my partner to Sharaku Japanese Restaurant and we decided to try it out.

Before that, I did a small research about the restaurant to get to know more about them. To my surprise, this restaurant has been operating since 1987, and have established themselves as one of the Auckland's finest Japanese restaurants. That makes me even more interested to try it out. Therefore, we went to try it out on last Friday for dinner.

Sharaku Japanese Restaurant is nestled quietly off Auckland's busy Queen Street. Should you not observant enough, you may miss the restaurant signboard. Or you may not even thought that this is one of the restaurant that provides authentic japanese food. You will know what I meant when you go to the restaurant yourself.

As we walk into the restaurant, we were greeted by one of their japanese staff dressed in kimono. We were escorted to our seats that had been reserved (we called in to make a reservation as we afraid that it may be full) and we were given a warm towel. Nowadays, I can hardly find any japanese restaurant that provides warm towel to their customers before each meal. Therefore, I am quite impressed.

However, there's some marks taken off from my expectations as they provide disposable chopsticks and without the chopsticks rest. To me, one of the criteria in a proper japanese restaurant is that they should provides a proper chopsticks and the chopsticks rest. A chopstick rest is used to keep the chopstick tips off the table and to prevent used chopsticks from contaminating or rolling off the tables.

We had ordered two Sharaku Special Course which are the sushi & sashimi set for my partner and tempura & chicken teriyaki set for myself. Every Sharaku Special Course includes an appetiser, miso soup, rice, pickles, salad and green tea.

We were first served with the appetiser, which is the mussels with stocks. Then followed by our Sharaku Special Course set.

Another little disappointment again when my partner was served with his sushi & sashimi set. There isn't any soya sauce saucer plate provided. We had to combined both our pickles, and use one of the pickles plate for the soya sauce.

As for the foods, their sashimi was very fresh and sweet too. A usual presentation of sashimi includes salmon, tuna and snapper. However, Sharaku sashimi includes salmon, snapper and scallop instead. In their miso soup, it didn't come with any seaweed and tofu, and it still taste as good with just a little of spring onions.

Then I was served with my tempura & teriyaki chicken set. Something caught my attention in the set, which was the teriyaki chicken. There's fried onion being sprinkle on top of the teriyaki chicken. Though the fried onion was not crunchy enough, the combinations of both the fried onion and teriyaki chicken was just awesome. As I eat, then I realised, there's no grated daikon being provided in their tentsuyu or in the tempura plates. The taste of tentsuyu was saltier as compared to the others.

As usual, we will always try to complete a meal with a taste of the desserts. The servings of the dinner was just right and we weren't too full. Therefore, we had ordered 3 desserts to end our dinner at Sharaku. The desserts were shaved iced with condensed milk and azuki beans, macha ice cream and daifuku with vanilla ice cream. Both the shaved iced and macha ice cream was rather ordinary. My partner and myself were both quite impressed with daifuku. The skin of the daifuku was very soft and fresh. We both thinks that it will taste so much better if is comes with green tea ice cream in it.

We had quite an enjoyable meal in Sharaku Japanese Restaurant though there's some expectations weren't being met. Overall was quite good and we will definately be back again some other time to try out the other dishes.

Sharaku Japanese Restaurant
75 Queen Street
Auckland City
Tel: 09 379 0483
(Opposite Loius Vuitton shop)

Monday, January 10, 2011

BeesOnline Cafe, Auckland

It takes about 35 minutes drive from East Tamaki to BeesOnline cafe. Along the way down to BeesOnline cafe, there's a few strawberries farms that allows you to pluck your own. However, according to the local, the rates are a little higher as compared to the normal rates. Apart from strawberries farm, there's also some vineyards available.

BeesOnline cafe is situated at
791 State Highway 16
RD3 Waimauku, Auckland, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 411 7953
Fax: +64 9 411 5216

It was a very sunny summer during our visit to BeesOnline cafe and outdoor seating is definately our first choice, as it is the only time you get to sit under
a shady shade and fresh air during a summer without freezing our butts off.  We were early and able to choose a nice shady seats from their large shelthered outsdoor seating area and admiring the surroundings on their large deck.

We had our lunch at BeesOnline cafe and we were served with a jug of water, the rain filtered water. There were 3 of us in total, therefore we had ordered one starter, two mains and two desserts to share.

We started it off with house baked loaf with garlic & herb butter, extra virgin olive oil and a Farmhouse honey, Balsamic & sherry vinegar reduction. Once you tasted it, you will know that it's really fresh from the oven itself. Breads with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar is always very appetizing to start off with.

Then followed by spiced squid, honey, beetroot & pancetta salad with rocket, aioli, walnuts & micro herbs.  So far, this is the best squid that I had tasted.

 The combination of the spiced squid and honey was just awesome.

The second main dishes that we had was the Crispy twice baked Pork belly w butternut squash, Atlantic scallops & an apple,vanilla & cider compote. The skin of the pork belly was very crunchy, and surprisingly the meat was not hard, it was still very soft and tender. The saltiness of the pork belly blends well with the apple, vanilla & cider compote.
Lastly we had 2 different types of desserts with coffees. We ordered red wine poached pear with Coastal honey & vanilla rice pudding and a velvety chocolate tart with black cherry compote, Coastal honey & hazelnut mascarpone.

The red wine poached pear was very juicy and not very sweet either. Once you bite on the pear, you will get the juiciness of the pear and red wine. The pear had also been de-seeded too. I'm not a big fan of rice pudding, hence enjoying the poached pear alone was satisfying too.

As for the velvelty chocolate tart, it was a little dissapointment as the pastry of the tart was quite thin and soggy as a result of the black cherry compote as the sides. Nonetheless, the chocolate flavours was very rich and the sweetness of the rich chocolate blends very well with the hazelnut mascarpone.