Sunday, August 31, 2014

Auckland Diner's Diary: August 2014

The Auckland restaurant scene is full of comings and goings. Here are what I have noticed this month.

New Ventures by the Experienced

City (Fringe) Cafes

Ethnic Flavours
  • Olas Latin Food - Argentinian empanadas, Colombian/Venezuelan arepas, and Mexican enchiladas, as well as desserts like alfajores and dulce de leche cheesecake, sharing a building with a dance school in Newton. Formerly known as Ola's Argentinian Food when they were simply selling empanadas at the markets.
  • Turko Cafe - Turkish cafe in Freemans Bay, formerly the Mavi Cafe
  • Santiago's - Chilean cafe, restaurant and bar on K'Rd. Churrascos (burgers), completos (hot dogs), empanadas ("Chilean pies") and other Chilean food like salchipapas, chorillanas, sopaipillas and empolvados.
  • The Spoon - Korean fusion cuisine on Symonds St, near the top of Wellesley St. Looked like mainly set combos with food from the warming drawers?
  • Grill and Shakes - grilled meats, some with Middle Eastern influences, and 69 flavours of milkshake
  • Enjoy in BBQ & Hotpot (回回来) - Chinese eatery on Dominion Road, where Cheuk Cafe used to be

Sugar Rush
  • Meet Fresh (鲜芋仙) - Taiwanese teas and desserts from a multinational franchise, on Lorne St
  • Waffle Suprême - Liège and Brussels style waffles from a streetside container by the Atrium on Elliott carpark
  • OKO Dessert Kitchen - high-end desserts and drinks from Mövenpick, on the Aotea Square side of the IMAX complex. I saw a chef doing something with balloons.

[Added 13/9/2014:
Burger Mania

New Branches

Coming Soon

Apart from some places mentioned in my previous post, there are some eateries being shaped up around the place. I also noticed that the renovated part of the IMAX complex has some shops leased now, so looking forward to more exciting things to come there.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Amazebowls of Noodles

At the risk of sounding like a starstruck teen, I was totally bowled over by the noodles we had in the weekend (excuse the pun). For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Miss Changy held her third pop-up event on Sunday, serving up the Kuching specialty of kolo mee.*

* According to Lee Geok Boi in the book Classic Asian Noodles, the term is probably a corruption of the Cantonese phrase "kon lo meen", meaning dry noodles.

The talented Miss Changy not only cooks, but is an artist!

A few months ago, I blogged about this uni student's first event, where we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample Sarawak laksa. Since then, she has clearly been busy, not only constructing her own tablesstools, bowls and chopsticks (the latter from pinejarrah and kauri), but also experimenting with making a bunch of things from scratch, including noodles (using her family's secret recipe), peanut butter, lentil and alfalfa sprouts and even tofu pannacotta from hand-pressed soy milk!

We totally enjoyed the fruits of her labour, and also appreciated the tweaks she made for her largest event yet. Rather than cooking in her own home, this time, we were fed at the Morningside cafe The Mustard Kitchen. She got a few helpers to turn it into a slick operation, instead of trying to do everything herself. There was a central station for condiments and cutlery—a bit of audience participation never hurts. And in case you didn't get the picture yet, the food had progressed in leaps and bounds.

Condiments, homemade chopsticks and curried roasted peanuts.

As with last time, we were given some roasted peanuts to nibble on at the beginning, after getting our names checked off. Everything was designed to delight, with the soy sauce and "liquid gold" of garlic-infused house-rendered lard being presented in laboratory flasks with droppers. (I didn't even realise lard could be clear and liquid at room temperature.)

Applying "liquid gold" to our noodles.

Having seen the preparation of her noodles, including drying thin sheets of dough on a clothes horse, before putting them through some kind of pasta machine, I expected straight strands of egg noodles, rather like fresh spaghetti. In fact, they were kind of roughly crumpled, all the better for sauces to cling to. No idea how she "jzeushes" her chewy kolo mee, but the end result was excellent. Together with pork, soy sauce, garlic dressing, the mild bitterness of Asian greens and the fragrance of the toasted sesame seeds and dried chillies, this dish was a flavourful taste sensation.

Kolo mee with sesame and dried chilli blend and sauces.

Vegetarians were also catered for, with a poached duck egg replacing the BBQ pork. The creamy yolk made a beautiful coating for the noodles, and the meat-eaters were jealous they did not get to experience this too.

Vegetarian option prior to the addition of sauce.

We would be back for more of Miss Changy's kolo mee in a flash, should she ever offer this again. And we were equally impressed that we ate our meals surrounded by her handiwork, using the unique chopsticks, bowls and furniture she created with her own hands. Bravo, Miss Changy! You are an inspiration.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Meal in Brief: The Black Hoof *CLOSED*

[Added 7 August 2016: A new restaurant, Culprit, will be opening where The Black Hoof used to be]

We came here because The Black Hoof is not only the newest tapas bar to open in town, but is created by an experienced and passionate team formerly of Waiheke Island's Casita Miro. We were interested to see how they would transform the venue, which has housed a number of failed restaurants, including a Mexican one, an Asian fusion one, and very briefly, a place serving Uighur cuisine.

Modest entrance.

The menu was on one page, with sufficient Spanish words to make it exotic and exciting. The four main sections were Charcuteria, Queso, Tapas and Dulce. The dishes offered were varied, with meats, seafood, rice and vegetable options.

The setting was beautiful, with high ceilings, swinging chandeliers, polished wooden floors, and handmade tables. The brick walls also gave it an inviting warmth.

Legs of jamón ibérico above the bar area.

Dining area.

The service was friendly, and suited to the casual atmosphere. You help yourself to cutlery and serviettes from a flower pot on the table, which means a spoon for soup can get overlooked.

What we ate included:

  • bread with extra virgin olive oil and romesco ($8) - the nutty red capsicum sauce was tasty, and the loaf proved very helpful for accompanying some of the other dishes we had.
  • gazpacho verde ($6) - the green chilled soup was refreshing, but also rather tangy, so that it was difficult to have more than a little sip at a time.
Gazpacho verde, and bread and dips.
  • Southland clams with jamon, farro and fino sherry ($14) - this came in quite a salty broth, which went well with the bread we had.
  • chicharrones: crunchy pork, fennel seeds, lemon & parsley ($16) - the flesh of the pork belly was amazingly tender and just barely clung to the crispy skin. A wedge of lemon helped to cut through the fat, but it was good to have some bread on hand too. This dish alone is worth visiting the eatery for.
  • roasted cauliflower with kale, pine nuts, sherried raisins and anchovies ($9) - sweet and salty at the same time, this is a good way to eat your vegetables. 
Roasted cauliflower.
  • copa de chocolate with PX prunes, cocoa crumbs, candied orange ($12) - excellent blend of flavours and textures, this is a smooth, creamy, chocolate dessert dressed up with sweet sherry, crunchy biscuit crumbs, chewy prunes and strips of intense orange flavour.
Copa de chocolate.

Overall, The Black Hoof is a great choice for a casual lunch or dinner. Some dishes did not inspire us, but other ones were magnificent. And we haven't even tried the namesake of the restaurant yet.

Restaurant Details

The Black Hoof
12 Wyndham Street, Auckland Central
(09) 366 1271
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