Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Foodstore, Auckland

Early this year, a new restaurant was opened at the Market Square, Viaduct Habour. It's called The Foodstore. It had already making a big buzz among all the foodies.  

Besides, if you are staying in New Zealand, you will be able to watch their chefs cooking show, The Foodstore Chefs, on FoodTV at 7.30pm every Monday.

The Foodstore Chefs featured are:-

Wylie Dean
"At the tender age of 19, and with no formal training, Wylie Dean was so talented that he found himself as head chef of one of New Zealand's best restaurants...Cibo. Taking off on a culinary journey, he landed in L.A. and quickly became chef to the stars. Then, wanting to break out on his own, he headed to Melbourne. After opening numerous restaurants there, he has now decided to return home to lead the new wave in Kiwi cuisine." (Picture and description quoted from

Mark Southon
"After training at many michelin star restaurants in Europe, Mark Southon embarked on his culinary tour down under. The 29 year old landed a prestigious position at Vue de Monde - Australia's top restaurant for the past two years running. He then fell in love with our shores and has continued his illustrious career with Simon Wright at The French Café." (Picture and description quoted from

Sarah Primrose
"Only 22, and already Sarah Primrose is making a name for herself as a star of the culinary world. After winning many prestigious competitions both here and overseas, Sarah was named as the young chef ambassador for the world. In just a few short years, Sarah's cooking abilities have seen her working at top establishments, including Pear Tree in Kerikeri, and The French Café." (Picture and description quoted from

Each of The Foodstore chefs carries their own unique number at their uniform. Their numbers are "00" for Wylie, and "26" for Mark and "88" for Sarah. Besides, The Foodstore provides an open kitchen concept, whereby you will be able to get up close and personal with the chefs as they prepare the food.

Having been watching their shows on Food TV for a few months and passed by their restaurant for a few time, I am yet to try out their food. Until one night, we decided to have coffee and dessert at The Foodstore.

There's 3 of us in total and we ordered each of us a cup of coffee with two main desserts to share.

During our visit on that night, I saw both Mark and Wylie were at the restaurant.

Classic kiwi pavlova with fresh fruit, passionfruit curd and vanilla yogurt (picture at the top) and old-fashioned apple pie with Bergamot ice cream & plum puree (picture at the bottom) were the two desserts that we had ordered.

Both of the desserts were great and delicious. Among the two, I prefered the apple pie more compared to the other. Yummy!

Having a good experience from The Foodstore, we will definately be back one day to try out the main dishes.

The Foodstore
Market Square,
Viaduct Habour,
Auckland, New Zealand

Phone: 09 377 0125

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe, Newmarket

During one of the weekend, when myself and my partner was in Newmarket to collect something, we stopped by Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe for our lunch.

Zarbo, New Zealand Cafe of the Year 2008, had been around for more than 14 years and is open everyday. They do provide a car parking space for their customers whereby there's a huge sign at the side of Zarbo to indicate the parking space provided for their customers.

As you entered the Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe in Newmarket, there's two cabinets full of appealing and delicious food on the right hand side. Apart from the food in the cabinets, they do serve other food as well that are written in their menu board which is located on top of food cabinets. You will need to order the food that you want from the counter before selecting a seat. Once you had ordered, they will provide you a number card to be placed on your table in order for them to serve the your food.

We had ordered one pastry from the food cabinet and another chicken salad from the menu.

I paired our food with a cup of flat white. Their coffee were very delicious and each cup of coffee are being served with little slice of brownies, chocolate or cake (changes each day).

Apart from serving food in the cafe, they do have a Delicatessen under the same roof that offers extensive ranges of gourmet products to their customers. You can find a lot of products available such as:- Italian pastas, balsamic vinegars and oils, French cheeses, terrines and vinegars, English jams and pickles, New Zealand chocolate truffles, saffron, olive oils and turkish delight.

Another one that is also available under the same roof is the Artisan Bakery, where internationally Global Baker and author Dean Brettschneider has joined forces with Zarbo to create and in-store micro artisan bakery. The bakery has created an open kitchen concept that enable you to see how the bread and pastries are being made.

Isn't it amazing that you can dine, shop and takeaway all different types of things under one roof? Drop by Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe if you happen to be in Newmarket this weekend. :)

Zarbo Delicatessen & Cafe
24 Morrow Street,
Newmarket 1023,

Phone: 09 520 2721

Friday, March 25, 2011

If Yan can cook, so do you!

Are you familiar with the quotes of "If Yan can cook, so do you!"? Well for me, I am very familiar with this quote and it's always been playing in the Malaysian local TV channel during my childhood time.

Martin Yan is a Chinese born American chef, that had been hosting more than 1,500 episodes of cooking shows. One of his show title that I can recognised of was the "Yan Can Cook" show which was aired since the 1982.

Recently he had visited Malaysia in conjunction with the Asian Food Channel to teach three simple dishes while showing of his knife skills at The Ritz Carlton Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

During the session, he also demonstrated his skill on how to relax a stiff chicken and debone it in 18 seconds. Below are the link from

I personally find it amazing that he can do tat in 18 seconds. It is also quite a funny.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Japan Day, Auckland

The 10th Japan Day Summer Festival - the biggest one-day Japanese cultural event in New Zealand was happening on 13th March 2011. This event was one day after the devastating earthquake in Japan with the magnitude of 8.9 and followed by tsunami. However, this event was planned very much ahead and the show must go on.

This year, the Japan Day was held at the ASB Showgrounds. There's a lot of parking being provided at the showground itself with a fee of NZD6 or opposite side with a fee of NZD5.

This event attracted a lots of crowds. You can see from the photos taken below from the indoor and outdoor area.

As we arrived quite early, there's opening ceremony speeches by the VIP in the indoor stage.

Also, I saw one of the local TV were shooting the event too.

The event area was separated into two area, indoor and outdoor. Outdoor area was full of the food stalls, especially those cooking needed. There were quite a lot of Japanese food stalls outdoor, with a lot of Japanese wording written for the food description. Besides, when I approached some of the stalls, they were speaking Japanese to me and I couldn't understand. Perhaps because I look like a Japanese to them.

Of all the stalls, one of the stalls managed to capture a lot of people attention. It was the rice cake stall. The stall demonstrated the traditional way of pounding the rice cake using the "Usu". Once it is done, they will pass the rice cake to a group of staff whom already ready to roll the rice cake into a ball shape and placed into the plastic container for sale.

Of all the food stalls in the event, we only bought 3 different types of Japanese food as our morning tea. They were the prawn and octopus takoyaki, triangle shaped sushi and dango.

Meanwhile at the indoor of the event area, there were some workshop going on such as Shogi (Japanese Chess), kimono displays and photo shooting session, Japanese caligraphy, origami art, and tea ceremony.

There's also bonsai workshop class which was conducted by someone who is not a Japanese. And if you look at the bonsai photo properly, there's a praying mantis on the bonsai. At first when I saw it, I thought it was a fake one, BUT it's not as I can see it moving.

Besides that, there's also some decorations and corporate display indoor. Honda had taken quite a big corporate display area as they were the Platinum sponsor for the event.

There were also some booth collecting donations funds for the earthquake in Christchurch and earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

We only spend like an hour walking around the event. Then we adjourned to our lunch at one of the Chinese restaurant nearby.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Silk Restaurant, Hamilton

We started with our journey as early as 6.45am and the sun was just about to rise up. It took us about 2 hours to reach the city of Hamilton.

Hamilton is an area where their main revenue source is the dairy industry, hence we passed by a lot of the dairy farms. While passing by, I am trying my best to capture the best shot of the black and white spotted cows for my sister, whom been saying that I should bring her to see the cow during her visit here next time.

*My sister had been watching too much milk advertisement back in Malaysia, where all the black and white spotted cows are being featured. Also in the advertisement, it often mentioned that the milk is from New Zealand. Hence, it creates the thinking that New Zealand have lots of cows for the dairy industry. In Malaysia, there isn't any black and white spotted cow available. Therefore, she insisted me to show her some black and white spotted cows if I sees it.*

It was already quite difficult to get a nice shot of the dairy farm in the car with the sun just rising. The thick fogs makes the photography session even harder.

When we arrived Hamilton city in that morning, it was only like 10 degree Celsius only. It was quite chilly. Luckily it was a fine day, and the temperature risen as the sun goes higher.

For lunch, we stopped by Silk Restaurant which is situated inside SkyCity Hamilton. This is a restaurant that serves fusion food, whereby Malaysian food is also part of it. Therefore, we decided to try it out.

Since there's three of us, we ordered one entree and two mains for sharing.

*As usual, sharing allows us to taste more than one dishes each.*

Tasting platter entree was ordered. The tasting platter consists of beef satay, lemon chicken, deep fried taro roll, vegetable fritters and deep fried spicy squid served with dipping sauce. All the food were quite nice except the deep fried spicy squid was not crunchy and quite soggy.

As for the main, we ordered the Hokkien Char and Kau Bi Kay (Nine Spice Chicken) as our main to share. The Hokkien Char is quite a different version from Malaysian style. Usually Hokkien Char in Malaysia are being fried with dark soya sauce that makes the noddles black in colour. Although it's a little different, the Hokkien Char was quite appetising as well.

While we were tasting out the Kay Bi Kay, we were very curious what are the total nine spices that they use to marinate the chicken. And we all came to a guessing conclusion that the Nine Spice Chicken are being marinated with five spice powder, pepper, soya sauce, honey and some fermented red bean curd. That makes to a total of 9! We may be wrong though, but that's our gut feelings. 

After the lunch, we moved on to shopping around DressSmart at Te Rapa. It was quite a fruitful day because I managed to get some good bargain clothing from there. It makes me tempted to go to DressSmart in Onehunga, Auckland to check out more good bargain things as it seems to be bigger there.

After spending the day time in Hamilton, it's time for us to make our move out of Hamilton city to avoid the traffic jam.

Silk Restaurant
SkyCity Hamilton,
346 Victoria Street,

Phone: 07 834 4923

Friday, March 18, 2011

Euro Restaurant & Bar

Last Wednesday after attending an cigar event in Barabra Cafe, I was feeling a little hungry as I had an early dinner. My partner suggested to have dessert and a drink before going home. And, since we were already at the Princess Wharf, we decided to pop by Euro Restaurant & Bar for the dessert. But before that, we checked out the dessert menu to see anything interest us or not.

I am a fan of chocolate, therefore the warm chocolate pudding caught my attention. Besides, the dark chocolate pudding that I had previously from Jervois Steak House & Saloon kept me tempted again. Both Euro Restaurant & Bar and Jervois Steak House & Saloon  is owned by Simon Gault, whom is also one of the current Masterchef New Zealand judge. Therefore, without much hesitation, I decided to have warm chocolate pudding served with fig and manuka honey ice cream as my dessert for that night.

Watching the Masterchef New Zealand recently taught me that the warm chocolate pudding must be properly baked, i.e: when the pudding are being cut, the chocolate should be spilling out from the pudding. And of course this chocolate pudding did have chocolate spilling out after being cut. It's so yummy!

As for my partner, he ordered a mango floating island served with Dilmah rose and vanilla surprise. The presentation of this dessert was very attractive. The texture of this dessert was very light and fluffy.

Of the two desserts, I personally prefer the warm chocolate pudding than the mango floating island.

This was our first time trying out Euro Restaurant & Bar, and we will be back again one day for other things. Perhaps be tomorrow!

Euro Restaurant & Bar
Shed 22, Princess Wharf,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vietnamese Water Puppets

From 2nd March until 20th March 2011, it is the Auckland Arts Festival.

The festival garden is situated at the Aoteo Square. During the festival, everyone get to enjoy the programme of free entertainment at the TV3 Garden stage. DJs and live bands take it in turn to fill the garden with music, playing well into the night on every weekday from 5pm and on the weekends from 2pm onwards. Food stalls and Stoneleigh Bar is being set up at the garden for people to have a bite and a glass of wine while enjoying the festival in the garden.

Apart from all the free entertainment, there's also some entertainment that you have to pay to get into the showgrounds. One of the entertainment that caught my partner and mine attention is the Vietnamese Water Puppets.

The Vietnamese Water Puppets shows are being run by the Thang Long Troupe whom began touring around the world since 1987 and winning the hearts of a large number of audiences of Arts Festival such as Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Thailand, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and Denmark.

We attended the 7.30pm show on last Tuesday. As it was a free seating, we arrived quite early and queue up in order to get the best seats for the show.

The show started of with some instrumental music and also New Zealand national anthems.

The whole show was being played with Vietnamese songs in Vietnamese language. Therefore, a piece of narration paper was given to all the spectators for a better understanding of what is the show all about.

I personally think that this show will be much better if it is being spoken in English, as I would like to know what were they talking about during the show and not just enjoying the puppets dancing around.

Luckily we managed to get the ticket with half price as the benefit of being an AA member. Therefore, it still worth the money.

Below are the stories (copied from the narration paper gotten during the show) and photos (taken by myself during the show) of the Vietnamese Water Puppets


About Water Puppetry
Water Puppetry is a traditional Vietnames folk art form which originated around 1000 years ago during the Ly dynasty. Villagers in the Red Silver Delta and other rice-growing regions in Northern Vietnam stages water puppet performances to celebrate the end of the rice harvest, religious festivals and other important occasions. Inspired by the paddy fields, rivers, canals, lakes and ponds of the Northern Delta, water puppetry exists in complete harmony with the natural environment.

Village festivals which marked the beginning and end of the agricultural cycle, were a time for peasants to pray for heavy rains. These prayers included rituals such as releasing captured aquatic creatures, washing statues of Buddha and other deities, cleaning pagodas, aquatic competitions and water puppetry.

Water Puppet Festivals were originally presented in rice paddies. A pagoda was built on on top of the paddy to hide the puppeteers who stood in the waist deep water. Then, as now, the water acts as the stage for the puppets and as a symbolic link to the rice harvest. It also hides the puppet strings and puppeteer movements, improves the musical and vocal acoustics, and provides shimmering lighting effects. Depending on the type of show, the Water Puppet theater could be a permanent structure or (more commonly) a temporary structure built for touring rural communities.

A Water Puppet performance depicts the daily activities in Vietnamese rural life as well as important historical events and ancient legends. Each puppet is hand-carved and given five layers of lacquer paint to protect it from the water and to add vital colours to the performance.

The traditional music accompaniment includes Vietnamese flutes and the dan bau, a one stringed instrument native to Vietnam. Its plaintive tone mimics the human voice, and was thought to have strong powers over the hearts of young women.

Festival drum beats
Drum beating is a ritual conducted at important festivals in Vietnam. The ancients Vietnamese produced bronze drums with a wide range of patterns that create thunderous rhythms. In the center of the drum-head a star is surrounded by intricate motifs of rural life, peasants and animals such as birds, deer and chickens.

Prelude to the performance
Teu is the unique buffon of folk water puppetry who embodies the typical qualities of the Vietnamese people. Teu is a cheerful, humourous and intelligent character who enjoys life.

"I am Teu from Thang Long - a scared land of the Soring Dragon"

He guides the audiences into the magnificent world of water puppetry and creates a joyful atmosphere for the performance.

Dragon Dance
The Dragon tops the list of four sacred animals which also includes the Unicorn, the Turtle and the Pheonix. According to legend, the Vietnamese nation is descended from the Dragon and the Fairy.

Buffalo Fighting
"The buffalo is the basis of the peasant's livelihood".

Water buffalo are diligent and hard working by nature and till the fields with their farmers. But sometimes buffalo have a naughty streak and fight with other buffalo.

Farming: Plowing and Rice Planting
"Let's do farm-work, though it is hard it will bring wealth to us."

The puppets are busy depicting the various activities crucial to agricultural life such as tilling the soil, planting rice and irrigating the fields.

"Plowing and planting rice-seedlings is part of daily work, The Vietnamese peasants on the rice field always aspire to have bigger crops."

After long hours of physical labour on the rice-field, the Vietnamese peasant often goes frog-catching to supplement their diet and to sell in city markets; frogs are considered a succulent dish. Frog-catching is specialised activity, requiring dexterity, patience and expertise.

Children Playing with Water
Vietnam has many ponds, lakes and rivers which have contributed to the fertile rice fields across the country and to shaping the beautiful rural landscapes. For Vietnamese children, playing in the limpid water of a lake or river in the warm sunshine is an incredibly pleasant experience.

Vietnamese peasant fish both as an occupation and pastime. They make simple fishing instruments such as rods and trapping baskets and skillfully use them to catch fish.

CHAU VAN Singing
Chau Van is a kind of folk song performance that originated in the 16th century. Chau Van combines singing and a ritual often used for praising the deities and national heroes. Its music and poetry are mingled with a variety of rhythms, pauses, tempos, stresses and pitches. In traditional times it was said to have captivated rural workers' hearts.

Quan Ho (Love Songs)
This call and response between men and women is an expression of love which is traditionally sung at spring and autumn celebrations. It is heard in Bac Ninh and Bag Giang, northern areas of the capital. UNESCO identified Quan Ho as an intangible cultural heritage treasure in 2009.

The Dance of Phoenix
According to the traditional creation myths of the Orient, the phoenix is king of all birds. The courtship of the  phoenix depicts love and happiness between husband and wife.

Dance of the Fairies
The Vietnamese people consider themselves descendants of the Dragon and the Fairy. Legend has it that in 2800 BC, the Dragon King Lac Long Quan married the Fairy Au Co. Together they produces 100 eggs in a pouch, which later hatched into 100 sons. When grown, fifty sons followed their mother to the mountain regions and fifty to the coastal regions. The eldest son was enthroned under the name Hung Vuong and became the founding King of the Vietnamese royal dynasties. He named the country Van Lang. The dance of fairies represents the Vietnamese people's aspiration for a happy peaceful life.

Dance of Four Sacred Creatures
The imperial dragon is called Con Rong and leads with pack of mythical animals the Lion, Tortoise and Phoenix. They perform a divine dance that exalts the beauties of nature and human life.

_________________________________ THE END __________________________

The show ended with the puppeteers, whom hiding behind the stage, bowing.

If you have not watch a Vietnamese Water Puppet before and can't imagine how it is through my photos, you can watch some of the video clips from YouTube. I had found one which had some similar snippets of the show that I had watched. Below is the link:-

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Middle East Cafe, Auckland

It's time to try out something new! This time, we had our dinner at The Middle East Cafe which is situated at the Auckland CBD.

This cafe decoration uses camel as their concept. Therefore, when you are in their cafe, you will see all sorts of different camel decorations from pictures, serviette holder to decorations.

We had ordered the Chef's Combination Full Meal to share. Chef's Combination Full Meal consists of four falafel patties, spiced lamb from the spit, salads and a toasted pita bread. Two bottles of organic cranberry, pomegranate and apple sparkling juice was being ordered to go with our meal.

The dinner was just right for the two of us. Just that we ordered an extra pita bread to fill up our tummy on that night since we had our dinner early. There's two way of eating this meal. You can add all the food and sauce together into the pita bread or you can tear the pita bread into small pieces and have it as a bread that goes with a meal. I personally had tried both the method and I am enjoying it.

The Middle East Cafe
23, Wellesley Street West,

Tel: 09 379 4843

Monday, March 14, 2011

Little Favourite Past Time - Instant Kiwi

Being in Auckland for about 2 months +, I had developed a little favourite past time here. It's the Instant Kiwi. Are you wondering what is Instant Kiwi?

Instant Kiwi is a scratch card lottery with pre-determined outcomes that are reveals when the latex covering is scratched off. The ticket cost from NZD1 to NZD10, with prize rewards ranging from free tickets up to NZD250,000 depending on the game being played. There is a legal age restriction on Instant Kiwi. Under the Gambling Act 2003, no one under 18 years old can purchase an Instant Kiwi for themselves, no one can buy an Instant Kiwi on behalf of an under 18 years old, and an Instant Kiwi prize cannot be paid out to anyone under 18 years old.

As I am not a big gambler with big hopes, I always go with the NZD1 Instant Kiwi. I will normally buy 3 Instant Kiwi or redeem my rewards like on a weekly basis. So far I had managed to win a NZD1 Instant Kiwi ticket, NZD3 and NZD5. My highest records for the rewards so far is NZD5. Usually I will use the rewards to redeem back the ticket. Hopefully luck be on my side for a better rewards.

I enjoy playing Instant Kiwi as it gives me the excitement especially when scratching it and I look forward to achieve in getting higher rewards each time. However, the most common ones that I gotten are usually NZD3.

To know more about Instant Kiwi, go to their official website at

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sharaku Japanese Restaurant, Auckland

I am back again to the Sharaku Japanese Restaurant for dinner again. This time, we brought my partner's mother to try it out.

Since there's 3 of us this time, we would like to try something different from our last visit. Hence we ordered a starter, 1 sushi platter, 2 mains and 3 desserts to share. I always like to share because with that, I am able to try different dishes. It's a complete 3 course dinner from the Ala-Cart menu.

We had gyoza as a starter. There's 5 pieces of gyoza being served in a leaf shape plate. Once you bite it, the juice from the gyoza will spill out. Just becareful when you eat it. :) Besides, it don't taste very oily too.

We also ordered a sushi platter called Futomaki, which also known as thick sushi roll or fat rolls. The futomaki that we ordered were being wrapped with tamago, avocado, ebi (prawns), kanpyo and pickled daikon. There's a total of 10 slices of futomaki. We ordered this as we were afraid that two mains wouldn't be enough for us and if we ordered 3 mains, it will be too much for us.

Two dinner set had been ordered, which were the chicken teriyaki and salmon teriyaki dinner set. The chicken teriyaki set comes with miso soup, tempura, sashimi and rice. Meanwhile the salmon teriyaki set comes with miso soup, sashimi, green salad and rice.

This time there's improvement from the our previous visit, whereby there's soya sauce being provided in the dinner sets that we had ordered.  

And lastly for the desserts, we ordered 2 sets of daifuku and a shaved iced with condensed milk and azuki beans. Looking through their dessert menu, daifuku and shaved iced with condensed milk and azuki beans are still the most interesting desserts to us. Hence we had it again during this visit.

If you would like to read about my previous blog about Sharaku, you can click here.

Sharaku Japanese Restaurant
75 Queen Street,
Auckland City.
Tel: 09 379 0483