Friday, February 25, 2011

Tanuki Sushi & Sake Bar, Auckland

Before myself and my partner headed down to the Lantern's Festival in Albert's Park, we had our dinner at Tanuki Sushi & Sake Bars.

That night itself, the restaurant was fully booked. The moment we stepped into the restaurant, the first thing they asked was did we made any reservations. We didn't make any reservation that night, however, they were kind enough to allow us to be seated at one of the table with the conditions that we leave in about an hour time.

Since we had only an hour time to eat our dinner, we ended up choosing bento set. I had chosen the chicken teriyaki bento set, meanwhile my partner had chosen the unagi bento set.

Every bento set comes with miso soup, green salad, sashimi, sushi, tempura, rice and fruits platter at the end. We managed to finish the bento set within the one hour given. We were both extremely full and satisfied after the meal.  

And it's time for our walk to Albert's Park to view the Lantern Festival that's happening around.
You may read about my previous post on Tanuki Sushi & Sake Bar here.

Tanuki Sushi & Sake Bar
319 Queen Street,

Phone: 09 379 5151

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Auckland Lantern Festival

Last weekend, starting from Friday till Sunday (18th - 20th Feb 2011) was the Auckland Lantern Festival which took place at Albert's Park annually.

This is so far the largest event that I had seen during my almost 2 months stay here in Auckland. Look at the photos below on the crowds that attended the event and you will agree with me. It is very jam-packed with a lots of people and I had to be extra careful with my belongings too in order to avoid anything being missing. Besides, I also had to hold tight to my partner in fear that I may lost him. (Yes, I know we can contact through mobile if we got separated, but still I want to avoid that to happen.)

In this Auckland Lantern Festival, there's a lot of different shapes and concept of lanterns being decorated around Albert's Park. As one of the radio station was giving away chances for people to win a trip to Hong Kong for two, there's Hong Kong concept lantern being featured. Since this is a festival that are celebrated by the Chinese, there's some Chinese people character lantern, Chinese most auspicious animal lantern - the dragon, Chinese Buddha lantern and many more. Besides that, to signify the festival in New Zealand, there's black and white cow lantern.

A lot of people were attracted by the different types and shapes of the lanterns. And with the new technology now, everyone is polishing their photography skills in this event. And of course there's people who took photos for their remembrance. 

Apart from all the lanterns decorations, there's food, souvenirs and games stalls all around Albert's Park. There's one street particulary dedicated to the food stalls whereby there's two long rows of food stalls selling different types of cuisine. For example; there's a Malaysian stall selling murtabak and etc, a Japanese stall selling dorayaki and a lot more. The food stalls here were so much more as compared to the night market in Westfield Pakuraga's carpark. In my opinion, if the night market is able to invite as many stalls as the lantern festival, it will be a successful night market that managed to captures a lot of visitors and buyers.

Since there's two long rows of food stalls, there's a few recycling center and rubbish disposal area being set up. Every recycling center/ rubbish disposal area had one personnel to guide you through the disposal/ recycling as there's a total of 4 bins in each center. What so cool about it, it's that before I choose the correct bin to throw my stuff, the personnel in charge already open up the bin's cover, and I don't even have to read and think which is the right ones.

Performances were also available throughout the night of the event. I saw this couple performer walking around and I don't have any clue what are they doing. Perhaps walking to the performance stage I guess.

As there's very big crowd in the festival, myself and my partner decides to leave before the sky turn dark to adjourn to our tea and cigars session as we already done with all our photo taking sessions and walking around.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Valentine's Day Celebration at The Grove Restaurant, Auckland

Where have you been celebrating your Valentine's Day and how special is it to you?

As for myself, it was my very first time celebrating it with my partner as we have been in the long distance relationship for a few years before we get together this year. It was also a very special and meaningful day for both of us.

Since it was a special day for both of us, we celebrated it together with my partner's family members; dad (MM), mom (MD), second brother (KM) and wife (SK) which took place at The Grove Restaurant.

There were 3 pairs of couples in total and we were given a round table seating towards the very end of the restaurant. Since it was a Valentine's Day, we booked our seating ahead to ensure there's space for us.

For a start, my partner had ordered Antipodes sparking water and Pommery champagne to go with our meals.

We were then served with one piece of homemade bread each with butter. The bread was very soft and it goes very well with the butter. It's just what we need to fill in our tummy after our coffee earlier at Elliot's Stable.

Three sets of starters had been ordered to share. MM & MD and KM & SK shared the tuna tataki starter which comes with the business lunch that both MM and KM had ordered. Meanwhile, myself and my partner shared the saute of scallop and scampi, encrasse of broad beans, basil and courgette.

Since MM and KM had ordered the business lunch, there were 2 option of mains for them to choose from. MM had ordered the aged beef fillet with bone marrow, endive marmalade and spring alliums, meanwhile KM chosen the market fish with cider smoked clams, fennel fricassee, seaweed butter. SK had ordered her favourite food which was the butter poached crayfish, roasted poussin, young carrots and field mushrooms. As for my partner, he had ordered the best end of spring lamb with tomato, parsley, aubergine and garlic. Myself and MD had ordered the assiette free range pork with new season pea and pistachios.

(Sorry, didn't managed to take the photo of SK, KM & MM mains)

I managed to try some of my partners mains and vice versa. The free range pork comes with the piggy's cheek meat that was specially being braised and served in a little bowl. The piggy's cheek meat was so tender and soft that it melts into your mouth. I got to also taste the sweetness of the piggy's cheek meat. It was my first time trying it and it's so delicious.

Three different sides were  being ordered to compliment with our mains, which were vegetable gratin, Parmesan and sourdough crumbs, shoestrings fries with truffle oil, and iceberg, whitlof & radicchio, muscatel vinaigrette. KM and myself enjoyed the fries with truffle oils during our last visit at Jervois Steak House & Salon. Therefore, this time without thinking twice, we ordered the shoestrings fries with truffle oil again.

MD and SK were already full after the mains, meanwhile MM and KM be having homemade petit fours for their desserts from the business lunch menu. Myself had ordered the raspberry souffle with white chocolate ice cream, and my partner ordered the most famously known dessert by The Grove - pressie of new season strawberries hot ricotta doughnuts.

The yummy desserts practically wrapped up the whole luncheon as the end of our Valentine's Day celebration in the year of 2011.

The Grove Restaurant
Saints Patrick Square,
Wyndham Street,

Phone: +64 09 368 4129

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cricket in Season

It's summer now in New Zealand and cricket is in the season again! 
No, I'm not talking about ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 which is held at India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But I'm talking about cricket, the insect.

Yesterday night while myself and my partner were enjoying the cigars and rum outside our home, we heard lots of crickets chirping around and communicate with their colony all over.

As it's night time, the chirping tends to be louder and during the day time. Hence we decided to record it down and post it here, but unfortunately I can't upload it up here as it taking more than an hour to do so. Hearing all the chirping kinda irritates myself and my partner, but there's nothing much we can do for as long as the cricket didn't crash into our home.

According to sources from Wikipedia, there 4 different type of cricket chirping song. The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female cricket is near, and is a very quiet song. An aggressive song is triggered by chemoreceptors on the antennae that detect the near presence of another male cricket and a copulatory song is produced for a brief period after a successful mating.

Should you be visiting New Zealand during the summer, don't be surprise to be hearing lots of cricket chirping song while you are here. (Especially during the night time, when it's all quiet.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best Steak House in Auckland - Jervois Steak House and Saloon

My partner's uncle who visited us recently mentioned that his friend told him that when he visit New Zealand, he must try the steak there. Therefore, my partner had brought him to the best steak house in Auckland, which is the Jervois Steak House and Saloon.

When we arrived at the front of the steak house, we nearly went in through the dining area and bar, where they have the sliding door open up. Then my partner actually stopped us, and went in through the main entrance, which is the small door which was closed. My partner realised that because he had been to the steak house before.

As we entered, there's a lady by the reception is ready to greet us. We were then being ushered to our seats and presented us with the food and wine menu. The total number of the dining table is kinda limited, therefore booking in advance is advisable to avoid having to wait.

Antipodes sparkling water was being ordered as a start and followed by Marlborough St Claire Rose to go with the mains that we had ordered.

Two entrees had been ordered for sharing, which were the calamari schnitzel with extra virgin olive oil, parsley and lemon and Caesar cos lettuce tossed with bacon, garlic croutons & creamy Caesar dressing, served with garlic aioli and egg yolk.

One special thing of this steak house is that all their steaks are being grilled in an oven that have different levelling to determine the redness of the steaks. For example, if you ordered a medium rare steak, it will be grilled from the bottom till the middle levelling of the oven. You will understand what I meant by that if you visit Jervois Steak House and Saloon. They have an open concept kitchen whereby you can see how your steak is being prepared.

There were 6 of us in total, and because the main course portion is quite a lot for us Asian, we had ordered 3 main course to share. This is also to leave us some room for desserts later on.

Clockwise from the left: Signature prime rib, rib eye for two and Black Angus sirloin 

There's two different cut for their signature prime rib; queen cut and king cut. We had ordered the queen cut which was around 300g. Signature prime rib has to be ordered one day in advanced as they have to prepare the steak one day ahead to ensure the quality of the steak is good. Signature prime rib is their signature dish, selected from the finest 150 day grain fed Black Angus that had been dry, aged then patiently roasted in their special over and served with horseradish. The prime rib is so tender and sweet, where it melts in your mouth. Meanwhile, rib eye for two is an outstanding example of rib eye at its best. It is well marbled for peak flavour and deliciously juicy. Lastly the Black Angus sirloin is from the Wakanui feed lot near Ashburton, situated on the coast where a little paddling is possible at high tide. 

Three sides dishes were being ordered to compliment with our steaks. They are (clockwise from left) french beans, truffle steak fries and creamy mushroom.

And as usual, a meal isn't complete without a dessert. Myself and my partner both shared one dessert of the day, which is the dark chocolate pudding served with manuka honey ice cream.

It was a very delicious and satisfying dinner for that day. Yummy!

Jervois Steak House and Saloon
70 Jervois Road,
Herne Bay,

Phone: +64 9 376 2049

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Alexandra Park - Harness Racing

Last Friday, after the Lou Sang dinner, we adjourned to watch Harness Racing at Alexandra Park which is nearby the restaurant. There's racing on Alexandra Park every Friday.

This was my first time going into a horse racing alley and watching Harness Racing. By the time we arrived there, there's still left about 3 races. There's a total of 10 races on that night. The race start from 8pm till late. However, to avoid the jam, we only watch the third last and second last races.

It was interesting to watch a Harness Racing for the first time. You can choose to watch from the outdoor seating provided or you can stand by the side of the racecourse to watch. There's also another option, whereby you can also watch while dining at the restaurant in Alexandra Park.

One interesting thing that I noticed in this Alexandra Park is that kids are also allowed to be in to watch the races. Of course, they are not allowed for placing any bets.

Before every races, the horses will be parading themselves to all the interested buyers to have a good look at the horses before putting their bets on. Without any knowledge about horses, we did bought a few numbers to try out our luck. On the third last races, we bet on the number 2, 8 and 7. Lady luck was shining on us, and number 7 won the race. The return on the winning wasn't a lot as we just bet on NZD7 on number 7.

It was a very good experience for myself and I enjoyed it a lot.

Alexandra Park

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lou Sang Dinner

Whenever it comes to Chinese New Year, Loh Sang dinner is a must for me and my family. Usually we will have Lou Sang as our reunion dinner, then followed by another Lou Sang dinner with my cousins and families. This year, I actually missed both of the Lou Sang dinner that happening back home as I am now here in Auckland.

Thanks to my partner, he recalled one of his family friend actually mentioned that there's this particular restaurant that serve Lou Sang. Therefore, we went there for Lou Sang dinner on last Friday to celebrate our Chinese New Year here in Auckland and also to buy his uncle and aunty, whom came to visit them, a dinner.

This restaurant is being operated by a Malaysian-Cantonese owner, and that is also the reason why they serve Lou Sang dinner as well. There aren't many tables available in the restaurant, therefore booking is necessary.

It's a total of 11 course for the Lou Sang dinner, inclusive of 2 course of desserts. This package is specially designed for 10 - 12 pax of people. Since there's 8 adults and 2 kids for us, we ordered this package which cost us NZD368.

The course includes:-
  • Salmon Sashimi Salad (Lou Sang)
  • 2 course of Peking duck
    • Peking duck skin with pancake
    • Stir fried Peking duck meat with lettuce
  • Steamed free range chicken
  • Steamed whole blue cod fish with soya sauce
  • Deep fried prawn with shell
  • Braised dried oyster with fatt choy, broccoli and roasted pork
  • Stir fried water spinach with garlic
  • Yam basket with combination of stir fried seafood
  • Steam fried rice wrapped in lotus leaf
  • Assorted fruit platter
  • Chilled honey dew dessert with coconut milk

The overall of the food experiences was not too bad. The taste of the food are very close to our local Malaysian style. However, this restaurant don't serve the food like Malaysian style, whereby serving the food as according to the sequence of menu. One example would be serving the steam fried rice in yam leaf after the second course. Usually in Malaysia, the rice is being served at the very last as it served the purpose of filling up the tummy of people who still not full after the many dishes served. However, there's pro and cons to this type of serving is that you get to eat a variety of food at one go instead of slowly finishing one dish by another.

Chap Goh Meh is coming this week. For those who have not eaten any Lou Sang dinner, move your butt up and celebrate it till the very last!!

Star Cafe Seafood Restaurant
266, Manukau Road,
Epsom 1023

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Good Advertising

There's one cafe by the viaduct habour of Auckland city having a little outdoor advertising by the wharf. It shows a picture of before and after drinking the coffee from their cafe. Before drinking the coffee, it shows a man with an almost bald hair and little teeth left. And after drinking the coffee, the man turns out to be as handsome as George Clooney. To your surprise, the photo of the man for before is actually the owner of the cafe. (Do you think it's a very good advertising to catch a person's attention? It did catches my partner's attention.)

The cafe name of this is Barabra Cafe. My partner who is very fussy about his coffee, had rated this cafe to be serving delicious coffee. Apart from serving coffee, they serve some light snacks, champagne, red wine, white wine, soft drinks, teas, mocktails and cocktails as well. In addition to that, this cafe also selling cigar. The reason why they are selling cigar is because the owner of the cafe is someone who enjoys smoking cigar.


Since this cafe is situated by the viaduct harbour, you can enjoy your coffee at the outside lounge and viewing the beautiful harbour views and the nice sea breeze. During that time when we visited the cafe, it happens that the city was celebrating the Auckland Anniversary Day which falls on 31st January every year. Therefore, there's a few of the special sails were being parked by the side of the harbour.

Apart from that, as according to my partner whom visited the cafe quite often, he always seen the same regular customers during the weekend, which included he himself. :)

Barabra Cafe
Area 5, Shed 23,Princess Wharf,
147 Quay Street Auckland CBD.

Phone: 09 966 0444

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner

Today is the eve of Chinese New Year. This is the day where all the families members will gather around for a reunion dinner and celebrate the start of the a brand new year in the Chinese calendar. However, this year I'm away from my family and unable to join them for the "lou sang" reunion dinner that we had been practising for sometime and all the Chinese New Year preparation.

Last year, the same day, I remembered I am just helping my parents a little here and there. Morning session, my mum will be busy preparing food for the prayers session to the ancestor. Some of usual food that she prepared are pig stomach's pepper soup, stewed pork, fried chicken, vegetables. (While blogging on this, it reminds me of the hot steaming pig stomach's pepper soup that I always enjoyed a lot.) In addition to that, since it's a Chinese New Year, there will be definitely some "huat kuih" and "nian gao" being served during the praying session. Then in the evening time, usually after my afternoon nap, will help my dad with the midnight praying session preparations. I always will do the gluing of the red colours paper to all the fruits that are to be used for the midnight praying session to welcome the deities of the heaven and earth. As for the dinner, we will be out for "lou sang" dinner where it usually takes about 2 - 3 hours to finish. After dinner, last minute cleaning will take place before the praying session kick off.

Today, I am not taking part in any of the above preparations and dinner as I am away from home. However, I am experiencing a different cuisine of reunion dinner with my partner's family. This year, for a change, they had made the reunion dinner earlier as the kids need to attend to school and the adults will need to go for work the next day. And also for a change, they had opt to have Brazilian BBQ.

We went to Wildfire Churrascaria on last Sunday for the reunion dinner. Wildfire is a Brazilian BBQ restaurant in viaduct Auckland that provides you with the "All you can eat" concept. We had chosen the Gaucho dinner where it provides a selections of appetiser, and a variety of meats, poultry, homemade sausages and seafood with a selection of seasonal sides, sauces and salsas. As this restaurant provides the concept of "All you can eat", there's a little note for the ease of ourselves and the waiters, which is the traffic light thingy. We were advised that whenever we feels like taking a break or stopping the meal, we shall turn the traffic light to red, and there wouldn't be anyone serving any food to our tables. Once we would like to continue on after the break, we shall turn the traffic light to green.

Our dinner started off with some breads then followed by of the 5 selections of appetiser as per the photo above. Once we were done with our appetiser, we were served with a two tier seasonal sides which consists of green salads and roast vegetables. Then we were asked to turn the traffic light to green for us to be served with selections of meats, poultry, homemade sausages and seafood.

As we were too busy with eating and chatting on that day, there isn't much photos taken. I enjoyed most of the food that were being served, and those that I can recalled that was delicious were:-
  • Fried calamari
  • Fried zucchini
  • Homemade sausages
  • BBQ chicken
  • Roast pork
It was a totally different reunion dinner experience to me that I enjoyed a lot.

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you!!!

Wildfire Churrascaria
Quay Street, Auckland,
New Zealand

Phone: 09 353 7590

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Macaron & Champagne

One of the things that I enjoyed most with my partner are desserts and champagne. My partner is the one who introduces me to champagne back in the year of 2008. I remembered the first ever champagne that we had together was the Moet & Chandon rose champagne.

Last Friday, my partner came home with a surprise for me. It was a box of 5 macaron by Ma Cherie French Pastries which he bought from Farro Fresh Food in North Shore. Since macaron can't be kept for too long, we decided to have the macaron and a bottle of champagne on that night itself.

Macaron is one of the most popular French confectioneries which made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder and food colouring.

In the box of macaron that my partner gotten, there's 5 different flavours in it which consists of:-
  • Orange - Enjoy the blessing of the sun. Rich refreshing flavour and cheerful colour
  • Strawberry - Cute vivid red colour, with a fresh spring breeze scent.
  • Green Tea - A flavour from Asia, with a rich relaxing aroma.
  • Citrus - Refreshing flavour and delightful colour.
  • Cherry - Elegant taste with a fascinating scent. Ma Cherie uses only pure fruit puree.
Of all the flavours above, I managed to taste strawberry, green tea and citrus. Of all the three flavours that I had tasted so far, I personally enjoy the flavours of citrus most among all. (Perhaps I'm am bias as I am a person who loves anything that has lemon flavours in it)

And as mentioned earlier, we enjoyed it with a bottle of champagne, which was the Billecart Salmon Champagne - Brut Rose.

Of all the rose champagne that I had so far, this rose champagne colour is very different as compared to the rest. Usually rose champagne comes with a slight pinkish colour, however for Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne, you wouldn't notice the pinkish colour if you didn't observe it properly. There's still a very minimal of pinkish colour but mostly yellowish as you can see from the photo.

It is always an enjoyment to pair a glass of champagne with some desserts. I enjoyed it more with the companion of my partner.

Ma Cherie French Pastries