Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Meal in Brief: Indochine Kitchen

We came here because the newly opened Beirut restaurant was packed at dinner time, and Lucky Buddha down the road was fully booked out, though we thought we spied some free tables.

Large painting on one wall.

The menu was not too long and not too short, with tempting Vietnamese tapas dishes, many cooked on a charcoal BBQ. There was also a $25 prix fixe menu with several choices for three courses (including a vegetarian/vegan one for each), but we chose to order a la carte.

The setting was dim, casual and aesthetically pleasing. On the night we went, there was a person dining alone, as well as a work group of around 30 people. Stay away from the toilets if you can though, as you have to go outside and down a long corridor a couple of doors down, to use the facilities shared with neighbouring restaurants.

Hanging lights and small picture frames on another wall.

The service was warm, particularly from the bartender, who always seemed to notice even if you didn't manage to catch the attention of one of the waitresses. We were also given complimentary spiced peanuts to munch on while we looked through the menu.

What we ate included:
  • Uncle Ho cocktail ($12) - although not food, I thought I would mention this as we really enjoyed this drink made with white rum, coconut milk, lychee, pineapple, ginger infused syrup and kaffir lime
Uncle Ho cocktail (right).

  • Tôm nướng ($7) - a pair of charcoal grilled Black Tiger king prawns, seasoned with lime, coriander and chilli, split open for easy access. Nicely cooked and a great start to the meal.
Black Tiger king prawns.

  • Nem rán ($8) - these crispy fried springs rolls (with prawn, pork, vermicelli and vegetables) were still tongue-burningly hot when they arrived at the table. Thoughtfully sliced in half to reveal the contents, this also helped to scoop up the warm vinegary dipping sauce they were served with. Pretty good value considering the quality and quantity of these rolls (I think we already ate a piece or two before I took the photo below).
Beautiful spring rolls.

  • Bún chả ($15 for three serves) - I looked around for a vessel of fish sauce to pour over the charcoal BBQ pork belly and pork mince on rice noodles, but it turns out the condiment was already sitting at the bottom of the bowls, of which there were strangely three. I guess it makes for easy sharing and a more artistic presentation. We would have liked more herbs (there was only a small piece of perilla and a couple of coriander leaves in each bowl), but overall a tasty rendition of one of our favourite Vietnamese dishes.
A single serve of bún chả.

  • Rau Hấp ($10) - the steamed Asian greens with sesame and organic soya sauce included snowpeas, green beans, a leafy vegetable that I would guess was gai lan, and pea sprouts. Mostly blanched, I liked the generous portion size and variety of vegetables. We didn't notice until afterwards that there was fish sauce on the table—we would probably have added a bit of that to add another dimension to the flavour.
Asian greens - nice helping of vegetables.

  • Xôi xoài ($12) - the coconut sticky rice and fresh mango pudding was the weakest part of our meal, even though it was the only dessert option on the a la carte menu. It was not very sweet, which is how I like my desserts, but it just seemed a bit bland, if you can say that about a pudding. I was also surprised the sticky rice was at room temperature, neither hot nor cold.

Coconut sticky rice and fresh mango pudding.

Overall, Indochine Kitchen is a small but stylish modern venue with some well executed little dishes, great whether you only want something light, or a more substantial meal.

Restaurant Details

Indochine Kitchen
42 Fort Street, Auckland Central
(09) 974 2895

Opening hours:
Mondays 11am - 3pm
Tuesdays to Fridays 11am - 3pm. 5pm - late
Saturdays to Sundays 5pm - late

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