Monday, June 27, 2011


Walking around the city wondering what will be our lunch for that day as we had already decided to have Japanese for dinner later. My partner suggested us to walk around Lorne Street to see if there's anything interesting as there's a few little restaurants/ cafe around.

As we walked past, we thought we shall try out korean at one of the restaurant. But we were quite hesistated to go in as there isn't any crowd around, as we thought it may not be as nice. Hence we further our walk down and ended up having Japanese again for lunch at Mentatz. However, it will be quite different with the dinner that we wanted to have as Mentatz specializes in tonkatsu ramen.

Since Mentatz specializes in tonkatsu ramen, we both ordered ourselves a bowl of ramen to try it out. I had ordered myself a spicy miso based broth ramen with pork cutlets. I can't recall what is the name of the dish already. Meanwhile for my partner, he ordered a tonkatsu ramen.

We were both impressed by the freshness of the ramen and the broth. It is definately a good lunch during the winter.

As according to the Japanese Restaurant booklet that I had gotten earlier, it mentioned that you can get your noodles done to your own liking: medium, well-cooked, etc. Besides, Mentatz provides patrons with the very Japanese custom of kaedama: if you've brought appretite to spare with you, finish your first lot of noodles and - leaving the broth still in your bowl - utter the magic words, "Kaedama kudasai", and you will be provided with another serving of noodles for the reasonable price of $1.50.

Mentatz Japanese Restaurant
28 Lorne Street,

Tel: 09 357 0960

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Karin Japanese Restaurant

It was one of the Sunday night where the chef at home is not cooking, given us the opportunity to try out Karin Japanese Restaurant in Parnell. It wasn't so much recommended by my partner, but I wanted to try it at least for once.  

Usually on a Sunday, Parnell area are not very crowded. But because it was the Queen's Birthday public holiday on Monday, Parnell turns out to be quite happening places to be. Finding a parking at Parnell was kinda difficult, but we were lucky to be able to get a parking nearby the restaurant.

We didn't make a reservation at the restaurant hence when we arrived at the restaurant, we gotta wait for 5 minutes before the table is ready for us. Lucky it's only 2 of us that night, hence we don't have to wait for long. However, should you need to wait for your table, there's waiting area provided outside the restaurant.

Since it was dinner hour, the restaurant was crowded with people. Besides, I saw there's lack of manpower serving food and clearing up the tables. It's as if there's only one man running around clearing the tables and serving the food. Hence, I told my partner that we better order our food fast as we didn't know how long do we have to wait. Hence quickly we ordered our food.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I actually observed around the restaurant. No doubt this restaurant provides a very relaxed, casual and family dining atmosphere, but looking at the poles that are around the restaurant makes me feel uneasy. There are a few poles being build around the sushi bar table, which caused the sushi bar table being abandoned. Why do I said so? Because I saw most of the bowls and plates which had been cleared from the tables were being placed all around the sushi bar tables instead of sending it down to the kitchen. Besides, the poles made the place looks very untidy and cramped.

After waiting for about 20 minutes, our food arrived.

The first to arrive was their futomaki rolls. In Japanese language, "futo" derived from "futoi" which means fat. Therefore, the futomaki rolls that we were served was super jumbo rolls compared to the futomaki rolls that we had before at Sharaku. Their futomaki rolls consists of grilled eel, cucumber, tamago, avocado, ginger and fish flakes. These ingredients were the caused of the super jumbo futomaki rolls. Though it is a super jumbo rolls, the total combination of the rolls was good and fresh.

Next, was the takoyaki - 5pcs of battered octopus served with Japanese style Worcester sauce. When it arrived, I told my partner that it was a mini takoyaki. The usual takoyaki that I saw and ordered before were bigger compared to this. And the best takoyaki that I ever had was the one that I had before at the Japan Day in the month of March.

As for our main, we ordered a grilled salmon wing served with grated radish and lemon and a garlic chicken steak rice set to share.

Overall, all the food served were okay and this is a place for you if you are looking at simple Japanese meals.

Karin Japanese Restaurant
237, Parnell Road,

Phone: 09 356 7101

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


After hanging aroung Clevedon area, my partner had been driving around Maraetai, Whitford and Beachlands area via the scenic routes. The scenic routes was nice and pretty that you get to see the beaches along the way.

We thought we could find a place for coffee and dessert around the 3 areas, however we couldn't. The first place that we wanted to go was quite full of people. The second cafe that we arrived at didn't serve any dessert. Lastly we went to the cafe in Formosa Auckland Country Club, again nothing!

So we ended up driving back down to Howick for dessert and coffee. Our usual place for coffee in Howick is either Basalt or Coffee, Tea & Lover. In our opinion, this two places serves good coffee compared to the rest.

For this time, we chosen to have it at Basalt.

Instead of having dessert and coffee only, we were a little hungry already. Hence we ordered two finger foods from the bar menu.

We ordered a buffalo chicken wings and bruschetta.

The buffalo chicken wings were honey and soy roasted. It tasted quite good.

As for the bruschetta, it is being served with whipped feta and tapenade. Tapenade is a combination finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil.

And finally for dessert, we ordered the caramelised lemon tart served with boysenberry compote, praline mascarpone, and candied lemon.

As our first intention is to have dessert and coffee, we actually ordered this dessert and coffee first before the two bar finger foods. Therefore, the dessert arrived first before the finger foods. We thought that the caramelised lemon tart was served with vanilla ice cream. And since it's winter here now, we thought it will be okay to have it later once we were done with our buffalo chicken wings and bruschetta.

When we were done with both buffalo chicken wings and bruschetta, we were surprise that the ice cream don't really melt. When my partner first tried the ice cream, he then realise it's actually praline mascarpone instead. Silly us! That's the result of not looking properly at the menu.

Corner Picton Street & Moore Streets,

Phone: 09 533 0081

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hungarian Twister - Kürtős kalács

Farmer's Market is a place where I am being introduces to different types of food and vegetables that are available in Auckland apart from the supermarkets.

One of it that I recently discovered is the Hungarian Twister during my last visit at Kumue Farmer's Market which was being held once a month at Kumue showgrounds. Since last Sunday was quite a fine day, we proceeded to Clevedon Farmer's Market through the country road that we discovered recently.

In the Clevedon Farmer's Market, the same Hungarian Twister stall that I saw in Kumue Farmer's Market. And of course, I am there to buy the Hungarian Twister again. Because the queue was long that day, I am able to take photos of how a Hungarian Twister is being made.

Hungarian twister which is also known as "Kürtős kalács" is originated from Transylvania, which is also famous as Hungary's oldest pastry.

Kürtős kalács consists of a thin yeast pastry ribbon that are being wrapped around a wooden cylindrical.

Then it is being lightly spread with some olive oil.

In order to ensure that the sugar are on the pastry while it is being rolled on the sugar plate.

Then it is being send to the chimney cake oven, where the pastry are being baked to perfection. As the baking is being done, each wooden cylindrical are being rolled to ensure every part of the pastry is getting the similar amount of heat.

After the pastry is being well baked, it will be rolled on the different types of flavours (almond, chocolate, walnut, cinnamon, fairy sprinkle and etc). And in my case, I had chosen walnut for that day. Once it is rolled, the pastry is being knocked down from the wooden cylindrical.

Therefore, my Kürtős kalács  is ready now.

I like to eat Kürtős kalács  because it has a very light pastry texture and crispy crust as a result of the caramelised sugar on the pastry surface. Also, it is a much better option to choose as compared to donuts or churros as it is being baked and not deep fried.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goode Brothers

When it comes to having a nice meal at somewhere in the Botany area, there isn't much choices for us to choose from. Especially, we were quite fussy with our food. Counting with my fingers, I think there's only like less than 10 cafes or restaurants (excluding the fast food) that we can go to. That also depending on the time and day as some closes at certain day and time.

Goode Brothers is one in our approved list. Goode Brothers served Italian cuisine such as pastas and pizzas. At Goode Brothers, they are using quality and fresh ingredients in all the food that they served. Besides, you can choose and create your own salad or pasta with the different ingredients that you prefer. And you also get to see their chef preparing all the food that you ordered due to the open kitchen concept in Goode Brothers.

As usual, we shared all our meals. Hence, for a start, we ordered my partner's mum all time favourite, char grilled chicken breast and vegetable salad. In there, there's different types of fresh greens are available and additional of roasted capsicum, pumpkin and kumara that are being drizzled with balsamic dressing.

Meanwhile for the pizza, we ordered the Tuscan chicken pizza, where it came up to be Tuscano pizza instead. The ingredient in Tuscano pizza consist of peppered beef, mushroom, capsicum, caramelised onion and garlic aioli.

Since it's an Italian restaurant, therefore pasta is also a must to be ordered. We ordered the Italian sausage pasta which consists of Italian sausage (of course!), sun dried tomatoes, spinach, smoky tomato sauce and Parmesan. As we were also allowed to choose what type of pasta, we chosen to go with spinach tagliatelle. It was our first time trying it, and it turns out to be yummy.

And lastly, something that I couldn't resist to say no to add on to our lunch that day was the deep fried wedges served with sour cream. On top of the wedges, it was sprinkled with cheese and bacon pieces. It was so yummy that I think I had quite a few more compared to the rest.

By the time we clear up all the plates, we were very full that we need a walk after that to get the food digested a little quicker.

Goode Brothers
Shop 36, Town Centre Drive
Botany Town Centre,
Botany, Auckland

Phone: 09 272 4516

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sansui Japanese Cuisine & Bar

As per planned by my partner earlier is to try out Morita, Japanese restaurant that's located at the city. However, we were explained by the waitress that the restaurant served only degustation meal for dinner which cost about NZD80 per person. Hence, we re-route to Sansui, which happened to be situated just next to Morita.

The restaurant is located behind the Stamford Plaza Hotel. As you entered the building, you will need to climb up a few steps of stairs before you reach the restaurant upstairs. Along the stairs, it had been decorated nicely like a mini Japanese garden. Therefore, you can immediately relate it with Japan or you may think that you are in Japan.

All the staffs working in the restaurant are Japanese as well. It is no surprise as you will find most Japanese restaurant employed Japanese as their workers as well.

The restaurant provides a divider among each table, creating privacy to all the customers that are enjoying their meal. Along the large window of the seating, it is also being decorated with miniature of Japanese products and some origami. The one which was being decorated next to my seating was a miniature bamboo made water well pump.

Looking through the menu, you know that at Sansui, they are promoting healthy eating as each of the food served were being explained of the benefit of the certain ingredients used.

After placing our order, we were served with warm towels.

Then we were given a plate, sauce plate and chopsticks each as we were sharing all our food. Instead of using a chopsticks rest, they use an origami chopstick rest.

For entree, we ordered a plate of edamame. The edamame was being served warm instead of cold.

As my partner looking through the drinks menu, he was attracted by this green tea cocktails. It was something new that we tried. The alcohol content wasn't very high and it was very refreshing.

As for our main, we ordered a Sansui course. It consists of appetiser, salad, steamed egg custard, simmered vege, sashimi, tempura, teriyaki chicken, rice set and ice cream.

The chawanmushi was served in a little cup with lit. The different of this chawanmushi to the others that I had was that, there's an salmon fish added into it in addition to mushroom, chicken meat and prawn. Meanwhile, the sashimi was being served in a bowl full of ice to keep the fish fresh, and there's light underneath as well. A very attractive presentation. The batter of the tempura were good as it was so light and crunchy as the same time. Bravo!

Another set of the main that we ordered was quite similar to Sansui course, which was the organic chicken teriyaki set. The organic chicken teriyaki set tasted quite similar to the one provided in Sansui course. The only difference was the tenderness of the normal chicken and organic chicken.

On top of the two main set, we ordered a crispy salmon roll. It was one of my favourite roll, whereby it's kinda hard to find a Japanese restaurant that served this roll. Finally I found it. It's available at Sansui! When the crispy salmon roll being served, the staff hold a torch and slightly grilled the salmon that was on top of the roll. In my heart, I was thinking, how on earth the salmon be crispy? Then when I tried it, it's really crispy as the crispy salmon was being wrapped inside the roll. And on top of that, fresh salmon were being decorated at the top of the roll. Yummy!
Towards the end, we were quite full already. But since this was our first time visiting the restaurant, we were tempted to try out the desserts. So we ended up ordering a dessert assortment platter and the egg of dragon in the flame.

The dessert assortment platter consists of green tea ice cream, Go! All Black! - black sesame panna cotta, tofu chocolate mousse and deep fried ice cream - deep fried daifuku. In just a platter, you get to try 4 different types of desserts from Sansui, which is almost equivalent to about 50% of the dessert from the menu. All tasted so good.

The last dessert was the egg of dragon in flame. It's actually daifuku, whereby it was being flamed up while serving. As you can see from the photo, the blue colour is actually the flame.

Overall, we were happy and amazed with the creative presentation of food in Sansui. In my opinion, Sansui is a Japanese restaurant which is quite on par to the Japanese restaurant that I had in Australia. Of course this is not in terms of fine dining, whereby it's totally different compared to Soto in Auckland.

Afterall, we found Sansui by luck! And I am happy with the standard and food quality provided in Sansui.

We will definately back to Sansui again to try out other food from their menu.

Sansui Japanese Cuisine & Bar
Swanson Street,

Phone: 09 377 1347

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Agents & Merchants Bar

Myself and my partner were looking for a place for cigar and drinks before dinner during one of the day when we were down in the city. We ended up in Agents & Merchants Bar.

It was a quite windy and chilly evening, and Agents & Merchants Bar is just the right place to be as it is quite shelthered away from thw wind. Besides, the outdoor seatings are fully equipped with heater.

At the outdoor seating, there's an antique or rather old piano is being decorated at the side end of the outdoor corner. Meanwhile, the no longer operating fire place is also available at the outdoor seating.

While my partner enjoying his cigar, I had my mochacinno. The mochacinno was served in a brandy glass instead of normal coffee glass. In my opinion, this was indeed creative. Perhaps they serve mochacinno in a brandy glass as a significant of themselves operating as a bar. That's my personal thought only!

Also, I took a quick video of the outdoor seating area from my camera for your viewing.

Agents & Merhants
Roukai Lane,
50 Customs St East

Phone: 09 309 5854

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Casa Del Gelato, Ponsonby

It's almost winter here in Auckland, and it's always nice to have gelato/ ice cream. This is because it will not melt as easily as during the summer.

I have been wanting to have waffle since early of the year but never have the chance till recently. It was after our dinner at Gion, Ponsonby that we decided to have a cup of gelato to share.

Casa Del Gelato was (and still) having the promotion of waffle and a scoop of gelato at a very reasonable price. Therefore, we decided to take up this promotion as I had been wanting to eat waffle.

Since it chilly out there, we went into the indoor seating and took some photos while waiting for the waffle and gelato to be served.

Ta da! To my surprise, the waffle and gelato combo had arrived in less than 5 minutes. AND I am dissapointed!

I am actually expecting a freshly made waffle instead of frozen type waffle that was being warmed up before serving. Hence I am dissapointed!

However, thinking at the bright side, it's good to have a mini ones since it's already late at night.

The gelato from Casa Del Gelato is always good. And I had chosen the hazelnut gelato to go with the waffle was the hazelnut flavour.

Though I am dissapointed with the waffle, I still enjoyed the yummy gelato!

Casa Del Gelato
288 Ponsonby Road
Auckland City

Phone: 09 378 8457

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kaimai Cheese Factory

Yippee it's a one day trip to Tauranga time! Another opportunity to explore another part of New Zealand.

On our way down to Tauranga, we will need to go through the Matamata town, which also known as "The Land of Hobbiton". Why is it so? This is because, some of the scene that you seen in the movie of The Lord of The Ring were being filmed here.

Just north of Matamata, there's Kaimai Cheese Factory & Cafe which is also situated in the heart of Waikato dairy country. Kaimai Cheese Factory & Cafe were established in the year of 2005. And if you are a New Zealander, you may noticed that their building is a replica of an old historic New Zealand 1920's Butter Factory. Trusses and roof vents from the original butter factory are cleverly used in the design of the building.

In there, you will be able to see how Kaimai Cheese Factory produces their cheese through the large glasses window in the building.

There were also descriptions of the cheese ripening process available for reading in front of the large glass windows which gives you a better understanding of the process.

Since this is a cheese factory, they do sell their cheese to any customer that pop by their factory. There's a wide selection of cheese being displayed in the refrigerated counter.

There's also cafe in the factory itself, where you can try out a selection of food via menu or the counter itself to get a taste of the Kaimai cheese before purchasing it. Most of their food uses their very own Kaimai cheese.

Since it's just for our morning tea, we ordered a cheese scones to go with our coffee and tea.

Usually scones are being served with butter/ whipped cream with strawberry jam. However, at Kaimai, tomato relish and butter are being served with their cheese scones. The combination of the relish goes really well with the cheese scones. Yummy.

We will definitely pop by again, should we pass by Matamata town next time.

Kaimai Cheese Factory & Cafe
Hawes Street,

Phone: 07 888 6910

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Empress Garden, Herne Bay

It's Sunday again, the difficult day to find for food as most restaurants are closed on Sunday in Auckland area. It took us quite a while before ending up with dinner at Empress Garden.

One advice if you want to dine at Empress Garden, is to always call up and make a reservation. Why? The restaurant is always almost full. Therefore to avoid any disappointment, ALWAYS call to make a reservation before hand.

As this is a Chinese cuisine restaurant, it is no surprise that red lanterns are being decorated around the restaurant to create the oriental atmosphere. The restaurant is also divided into various sections and rooms, which makes the restaurant looks cramp.

Whenever we were at the restaurant, one signature dish that we must order is no order than the Peking Duck. Not only us, you can see almost all the tables will have Peking Duck as one of their main, as this is the restaurant main signature dish. If you had ordered a whole Peking Duck, you have a choice of having it for 2 or 3 course. However, if you ordered half a Peking Duck, you have a choice of having it for 1 or 2 course.

Since there were only 3 of us, we ordered half a Peking Duck with only one course. This is because, the 2nd course that we can choose from doesn't seems interesting to us. The Peking Duck is always served with a plate of spring onion and cucumber, sweet bean sauce and pancakes. The reason why we like this dish is because we enjoy the crispy skin and succulent flesh from the Peking Duck which was always being well roasted.

This restaurant provides all day dim sum menu, where you can order it at anytime of the day. However, there's only a dozen of selection for you to choose from. It's not an official yum char place to be. We ordered a spring onion pancake from their dim sum menu to try it out. It comes with a plate of two spring onion pancake. The pancake are made from heaps of spring onion being wrapped with a thick wanton skin, and deep fried it before serving. The pancake was really crispy. However, the pastry of the pancake is too thick to my liking.

Meanwhile, for our main, we ordered a spicy fish fillet with crispy vegetable leaves. This was a good dish as it isn't very spicy and there's sourness taste from the vinegar that makes it very appetising. Besides, the crispy vegetables leaves, which in my opinion, was the "kai lan" leaves that were being sliced finely and being deep fried till crispy. It makes a good combination.

And the last main that we ordered was the deep fried stuff bean curd with mince prawn. By eating just the bean curd itself, the prawn tasted too salty to my liking. However, pairing it with rice neutralises the saltiness.

After all, it was a satisfying dinner and we didn't managed to finish all the food. We need to take away the remaining deep fried stuff bean curd with mice prawn and spring onion pancake.

Empress Garden
227, Jervois Road,
Herne Bay,

Phone: 09 376 5550

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Punjabi Dhaba

As according to wikipedia, Punjabi Dhaba literally means a restaurant owned by a Punjabi from the Punjab region in either India or Pakistan.

In Auckland, Punjabi Dhaba is another place for Indian cuisine. In my opinion, this restaurant serves better food as compared to Raviz.

I had been to Punjabi Dhaba restaurant a few times, and always forgotten to bring a camera to shoot all the food photos from this restaurant. Thanks to my partner, this time he reminded me to bring the camera during our recent visit there for a birthday celebrations.

As this is an Indian cuisine restaurant, it provides a brass made forks and knives, and all most of the food are also being served in brass thali (plates).

Since this was a birthday celebrations, there were a total of 6 adults and 2 children for that day. Hence we were able to order a little more. However, Indian cuisine is always very rich and creamy. Therefore, it's good that we didn't over ordered it too.

To kick start the dinner, we had two entrees, which were the mixed pakura and samosa. Mixed pakura is made of assorted vegetables dipped in pea flour batter, deliciously spiced and fried to golden brown. As for samosa, it is a triangular pastry filled with seasoned potatoes, deep fried until golden brown. Both the entrees were served with sweet tamarind sauce which paired it really well.

Chicken tandoori is always a must to order whenever we were there. It is made of tender spring chicken marinated in yogurt, spices and gently roasted over charcoal. This dish is always being served with mint chutney which enhanced the flavour of the chicken.

Dhaba beef curry, beef cooked with authentic and traditional Dhaba style curry, was another main that we had ordered as it was requested by the birthday lady.

Next, is the lamb tak-a-tak. It is dices of tender lamb, capsicum, and onion cooked in a spicy tomato gravy.

And the last main was fish masala, specially marinated fish cooked in onion gravy to perfection.

In Punjabi Dhaba, you can choose your preference of spiciness from mild, medium to hot. For this meal, we ordered all medium hot, so that everyone of us get to enjoy the food to the fullness. If the food is too spicy, you won't get to taste the food properly as it had affected your taste buds.

Since there were 2 kids around, one mild vegetarian food were ordered specially for them. It was the mushroom corn masala, mushroom and corn kernels cooked in special Dhaba gravy.

We also ordered two portion of Basmati rice, a Dhaba's crispy paratha and two plain naan to go with all our mains.

It was a really satisfying dinner that night.

Punjabi Dhaba
308 Te Irrirangi Drive,
Botany South,

Phone: 09 272 2322