Monday, May 30, 2011

Bistro 222

It was a fine Saturday afternoon, and it's time to look for a place for cigar and coffee for my partner.

As we walk along Ponsonby Road, there's plenty of cafe and bar around that were opened. However,in order to smoke, an outdoor area is required. Therefore, we ended up with Bistro 222, which provides an outdoor area for smoking with two comfortable leather sofa as well.

While my partner smokes his cigar, I had Earl Grey tea with Bistro 222 house specialty tiramisu. This tiramisu tasted so good whereby the cake was so light and yummy. Besides, it wasn't very sweet too. Lucky I made the right choice.

Bistro 222
222 Ponsonby Road,
Ponsonby, Auckland

Phone: 09 361 3222

Saturday, May 28, 2011

La Cantine du Torchon

Whenever it comes to Sunday, it will be harder to find a nice restaurant or cafe to be open around Ponsonby area. Our first choice was Satya, but it was closed. Next was the Nawas Cafe which was just a few shops away, and it was closed too. Then we finally decide to come to La Cantine du Torchon and lucky us, it was opened. Phew!

This was our first time at the cafe, as my partner discovered it the last time we passed by this area.

This cafe has a very small dining area, with limited space to move around. However, it served very authentic French cuisine.

Looking through the lunch menu, there are many different types of crepes available. Be it sweet or savoury. All the savoury crepes were being made with fine French buckwheat flour, which makes a healthy combinations.

Since it was lunch for us, my partner ordered a Croque Monsieur, which was the toasted sliced bread with ham, bechamel sauce and cheddar. As according to my partner, this is one of the authentic food from French, therefore, by tasting it, you will know whether the most basic food are being well made or not.

As for myself, since there's plenty of crepes selection from the menu, I supposed that is also one of their specialty. Therefore, I ordered the savoury crepes, Forestiere, which is the mushrooms in creamy white wine sauce. I was tempted by the outlook of the food as it was being served to the customer who sat next to me.

Both the food were tasty and nice, but it's a little too salty for me. Overall, it was a very nice and lite lunch for both of us. This is definitely a place for authentic French food, especially if you are craving for any crepes.

La Cantine du Torchon,
265 Ponsonby Road,
Auckland City.

Phone: 09 376 2516

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cafe Hanoi

Britomart is currently mushrooming with lots of new cafe and restaurants. It is also one of the most happening places in Auckland city due to the upcoming of Rugby World Cup 2011 that is taking place in New Zealand. Cafe Hanoi is one of the restaurant that is located in Britomart, which had been operating since last year.

Barabra cafe owner had once recommended to us about Cafe Hanoi but we are yet to try it till early this month. We went in without any reservation being done, and we were lucky that the restaurant wasn't packed as it was a Sunday night. We were early too. Phew!

As you entered the red majestic door, you will see that there's various type of dining table (be it round or square) and also even at the bar table. The cafe had been decorated with some old/ antique collections.

Looking through the menu, it shows that the cafe introduces the Asian type of eating, which is SHARING. Each dish act as a component to the overall dining experiences. 

As for our drinks, we ordered the virgins that are specially being created by cafe to go along with the Vietnamese food. I had ordered a lychee, passion fruit pulp, pink grapefruit and cranberry. Meanwhile my partner ordered a blueberries, mint, lemon, lime and brown sugar syrup, topped with Antipodes sparkling water. Among the two, I still prefer the drink that I had ordered. It had more of the taste of lychee juice.

Before we were being served with our mains, we were given a plate of condiments. It consists of fish sauce (salty), lime (sour) and cut chillies (spicy). The plate of condiments is for us to add flavours to our food should we need to. I personally think this is brilliant and creative as compared to the traditional method where most restaurants will provide soy sauce, salt and pepper instead.

The first main that came was the wok seared market fish marinated in turmeric, ginger and galangal with snake beans. I can't remember what was the market fish of that day. It was my first time eating that fish, and it tasted good. Besides, this dish was being served with vermicelli. The way of eating it is to add the sweet chilies on the vermicelli and mixed it well together with the fish.

Next was the hot pot of caramelised pork belly with morning glory. The pork belly was so tender that makes it melt in your mouth. We had that together with rice. Yummy!

Lucky we had only ordered two mains to share. That leaves us some room to try the desserts.

We ordered two different desserts to share, which was the lemon brulee served with bee pollen ice cream and yogurt and sago pudding in white chocolate and yogurt cream with palm sugar caramel.
Both the desserts were so delicious that we practically clean up both the plates.
We were both satisfied and full as we leave the restaurant.
The overall dining experience in Cafe Hanoi was absolutely good as the staffs are very friendly and knowledgeable too. Thumbs up!
Cafe Hanoi Vietnamese Eatery
Excelsior Building,
Cnr Galway & Commerce,
Britomart Auckland.
Phone: 09 302 3478

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant

When it comes to dim sum, it is my partner and myself all time favourite food. So far, I had tasted a few dim sum in different places and so far there's only 3 restaurant in my favourite list. Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant was one of it.

I was introduced to this restaurant when one of my friend came to visit in Auckland. Before arriving, she had already mentioned that she want to have dim sum in Grand Harbour Restaurant. Therefore, I booked the table and brought her there. And again, we visited the restaurant again recently since we were down at the city.

One tips when you want to have dim sum in Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant during weekend is to go early (i.e. at 10a.m.) or always call in to book one day ahead. Else you may have to queue up and wait. Also you will only be given an hour to finish your meal.

That day, we ordered a "char leong" a.k.a as the fried flour stick wrapped with rice rolls. The "char leong" was good as it also wrapped with "choy sum". Hence when you eat it, you won't feel too filling as it is always served with sweet sauce and peanut sauce. This was the first restaurant that I see "char leong" are being wrapped with vegetables. Yummy!

We also ordered a bowl of century egg and pork porridge. Surprisingly, they served every bowl of porridge with fried flour stick. Again, the other dim sum places that I went before never serve their porridge with the fried flour stick. It's always a good combination of porridge with fried flour stick.

Fried tentacles squids (which was my favourite), and curry fish balls (which is my partner favourite was ordered. A bit disappointed with the fried tentacles squid as it wasn't as crispy as the first time I had it. Besides, the curry fish balls wasn't the best that I had tasted.

As for the dumplings, we ordered a Shanghai dumplings (xiao loong bao), combination dumplings (chiu chow fun guo) and water crest dumplings. This is another dim sum place that serves Shanghai dumplings with vinegar and ginger slices. Unfortunately, the vinegar used is not my favourite :).

Later, it's dessert time! We ordered a plate of egg tart and fried black sesame balls. Both of the desserts were just as good. By the time we finished our food, our tummies were satisfied as well.

This is one of a good dim sum place that I would recommend should you be in Auckland or visiting Auckland. Why? The dim sum are just up to the Hong Kong standard. Besides, it did not only serves all the carcass and it had a very wide variety of dim sum. Lastly, the dumplings didn't taste quite the same as their main ingredients are not only prawns, where most of the restaurant put prawns as the main ingredients.

Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant
Corner Pakeham Street & Custom Street West,
Viaduct Harbour,

Tel: 09 357 6889

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Stop, Newmarket

It's always hard to find a Malaysian restaurant that serves authentic Malaysian cuisine. We had tried quite a few so far and all of it didn't taste as good as we expected comparing to the one that we had in Malaysia.

There's a family friend of my partner had always been introducing us to different Malaysian restaurant. As according to the family friend, she had mentioned that My Stop cafe which is situated in Newmarket train station serves the best curry laksa!

Therefore, we went to try when we were at Newmarket last Saturday for our lunch. My Stop cafe is situated just right opposite the Newmarket train station.

To my partner, in order to try whether the cafe/ restaurant serve authentic and good Malaysian cuisine, he will always try the nasi lemak. He ordered a "Beef rendang nasi lemak". The nasi lemak was served in a while leave plates. The presentation was good. A good "nasi lemak" should have nicely cooked rice which is not too soggy and not too hard, whereby this restaurant do actually achieved that. As for the "beef rendang", the taste of it is good, but sadly it was overcooked which made the beef hard. What a pity.

As for myself, I ordered the chicken curry laksa to try whether it is as good as back home in Malaysia. Sadly, as I noticed the kitchen, the gravy of the curry laksa was not freshly boiled as the kitchen helper heat it up in the microwave. The presentation of the food was rather ordinary, whereby it was served in a big white bowl. The taste of it wasn't too bad, just a little too salty.

After tasting it, myself and my partner came to a conclusion that the family friend taste can't be trusted 100%. Or perhaps I should our expectation of Malaysian food are too high as compared to hers.

My Stop Malaysian Cuisine
28 Remuera Road (Shop 16)

Tel: 09 520 5500

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Barabra Cafe

It has been kinda a month or plus since my last visit to Barabra Cafe. We were back again to the cafe after dinner last Saturday. Unfortunately, we were unable to catch up with the owner of the cafe as he had left 5 minutes earlier as according to his staff.

If you do follow my blog, you will realised that I had actually blogged twice (here and there) about this cafe and I am now blogging it again. Why? This is because I seen improvement in this cafe.

My partner and I were both surprised when the barrister brought us the cigar ash tray filled with cigar cutter and torch (as he seen us joining the cigar event held in the cafe previously). Why were we surprised? Because previously this cafe provides only cigar ash tray to their cigar smoker customers. This was the first changes.

Then, we saw each table in the cafe has a nursery story book, where we later found out that they are the menu of the cafe. I personally think that this is a brilliant idea to turn a nursery story book into a menu. Customers of the cafe can also read through the story book while waiting for their food or drinks to be served. It's environmental friendly too!

The menu of the cafe has also improved by providing more drinks and food options to the cafe customers. It is more detailed as compared to the last time. And this time, the cigar lists are also included in the menu.

For a change, this time we ordered a bottle of beer for each of us (usually we had either coffee or tea).  We were surprised to see snacks (mini pretzel and nuts) were served to us in a mini Laurent Perrier Champagne snack plate. It's very normal for the bar to served snacks to all their customers back in Malaysia, but not in New Zealand. Why? I'm not sure. Besides, I don't recalled any snacks being served to their customers who had ordered a bottle of beer.

Apart from that, I also saw other customers were being served with chocolates with their coffee. This has not been practised the last time too.

Thumbs up to Barabra Cafe! If you happen to be at the Princess Wharf, Auckland, do visit Barabra Cafe to enjoy a cup of delicious coffee.

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Satya Southern Indian Restaurant

Watching the MasterChef New Zealand program had introduces me to a few good restaurant around Auckland. In one of their episodes, the contestants need to cook Indian cuisine and choosing the right spices from those that were provided. The winner of the challenge get to enjoy a good meal from the famous Indian Restaurant in Auckland, which is Satya.

There is where I know about Satya, and told my partner that I want to have a meal there one day. Finally, I am there last Sunday to try out the dishes in Satya.

Satya, which is being pronounced as "Sa-thia", has three restaurant around Auckland. The one that I visited last Sunday was the Satya South Indian Restaurant located in Ponsonby.

The size of the restaurant is similar to some small Japanese restaurant sizes. And, there's people staying just right above the restaurant which I suspects are the owners and families that are staying there. Therefore, there isn't much space to move around, but still provides a comfortable environment. Besides that, you get to enjoy the Indian music while dining in. Isn't that authentic?!

There were 3 of us again, and as usual, we shared our portions.

My partner had chosen to order the Bhel Puri as the starter, where he actually wanted to introduces us to Pani Puri instead. As according to Satya menu, Bhel Puri is a very popular road side snack in India. The Bhel Puri contains rice puff, chick peas, nuts, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and coriander which were all mixed up together and served with tamarind sauce. It was my first time trying it, and it tasted quite nice and special.

As for the mains, we ordered a masala dosa, chicken tikka masala and Satya dried curry fish. We had our mains together with a portion of rice. Usually one portion of rice served by Indian restaurant is enough to fill up at least 4 of us.

All the food tasted good. The freshness of the ingredients and spices that they used brings out the flavours of an authentic Indian cuisine.

It was a really satisfying and fulfilling dinner. What more surprising, that it's also economical and delicious!

Satya South Indian Restaurant
17, Great North Road,
Ponsonby, Auckland.

Phone: 09 3613612

Times Kitchen

Whenever I passed by cafe/ restaurant like this, I will have the impression that it won't be good. However, after looking at the varieties of food being served through the cafe window, my partner and I decided to give it a try.

Times Kitchen provides selection of Northern China dumplings and dishes into Auckland. The menu had wide selections of steamed dumplings, boiled dumplings, pan fried dumplings, pancake, cold dishes and noodles.

We ordered a cold dish, which is the potato mixed with red chilies oil. As according to my partner, this is the type of dishes that he used to had when he was at the northern part of China. I am not a big fan of this cold dishes.

We also ordered the chives pancake. At first, I thought the pancake will be in a round shape and big. Therefore, we didn't ordered a lot. It turned out that the pancake was in semi-circle shape. Inside the pancake was filled with heaps of chives and minced pork. It's very good. The pastry was also very light.

Since the menu had wide variety of dumplings which seems to be their specialties, we ordered one steamed dumplings and one boiled dumplings.

Shanghai soup steamed dumpling, which is also widely known as "xiao loong bao", is what we ordered. It was also served with a plate of shredded ginger, whereby the proper way to eat the dumpling is to dip the dumpling into the vinegar with shredded ginger. I am happy that this cafe provided the shredded ginger when serving the "xiao loong bao" because this is hardly being practised by restaurants that served dim sum.

We also ordered the pork and cabbage boiled dumpling. When the dumpling arrived, we were amazed with the amount of dumplings on the plate. Looking at it, it has easily 24 pcs or more! We were thankful that we didn't ordered too much to start with.

There's only myself and my partner, and we were struggling to finish all the pork and cabbage boiled dumplings. We ended up having to take-away the leftovers.

Overall, the dumplings and pancake are good and reasonably priced. However, I personally prefer the pastry of the boiled and steamed dumplings to be a little thinner.

Another cafe/ restaurant is added into our list. Yippee, another one extra selection of cafe/ restaurant around our area!

My partner and I will definitely visit Times Kitchen again sometime soon.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Figs are currently in the season for New Zealanders. Local figs are available for sales at the local farmers market.

Dried figs are easily available at anywhere in the country. I had tasted dried figs but not the fresh figs. During our visit to Howick Farmers Market recently, a few variety of figs are available for sale and tastings are also available.

I chosen to buy the Adriatic figs due to the attractive appearance as compared to the Brown Turkey and Black Mission Figs. Adriatic figs are originated and transplanted from Mediteranean. Adriatic fig had green thin skin with strawberry flesh that's so sweet. It is the most prolific compared to the other figs varieties due to the high sugar content.

You can consume the figs freshly by scooping the strawberry flesh with a little spoon. My partner came up with an idea to try caramelise the top layer of the figs before eating. Each of us ate an Adriatic fig that were cut into half with two, served with first half fresh and another half with caramelised top. Comparing the both, we agreed that the fig with caramelised top tasted better.