2015 isn’t over yet, but I thought it about time I write up my first ‘Top X’ list. Where better to start than my absolute favourite restaurants of the last year?
#5 - The French Café
$150 per person
210 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland
Food is meant to be savoured and The French Café best encapsulates this ideology. Four or more courses from the degustation menu are recommended, and including the smaller bites between each, the entire meal can swell to eight courses. On my last visit we ate over four blissful hours. The food is without a doubt the best I’ve had in Auckland, and the whole experience from the flawless service to nuanced food is unforgettable. With The French Café refreshing their menu seasonally, I can’t stay away.
The French Cafe review to come
#4 - Cassia
$70 per person
5 Fort Lane, Auckland Central
Fine dining Indian was a new concept to me, and learning about Cassia peaked my curiosity. A couple of months later, Cassia’s concept still stuck in my head, I tried their business lunch on a whim. The subtlety of spices and carefully chosen ingredients made for thrilling morsels. Not only were dishes like spiced lamb chops succulent delights, but Cassia’s takes on ‘Indian’ classics like chicken tikka masala made me wonder what takeaways had been doing wrong all this time. Glimpses of the spectacle of cooking through the open kitchen further heightened the sophisticated experience.
#3 - Dong Demoon/Pocha
$20 per person
42D High Street, Auckland Central
48 Courthouse Lane, Auckland Central
These two restaurants both do very similar things, albeit in slightly different ways. Unlike more traditional Korean restaurants, no side dishes (banchan) are served at Pocha or Dong Demoon. Instead what they do best is what I’d call ‘Korean fast food’. Massive portions, strong flavours and usually blazing service (I’ve had dishes served in under five minutes) are standard. They both have the benefit of late openings, up until 2 am on the weekends, which makes them the best late night eateries in Auckland Central. Dong Demoon is better value, with $15 dishes able to feed two people and Pocha is better quality and more varied. You can’t go wrong with either one for some fast, late night guilty pleasures.
Pocha review: Irresistible Korean
Dong Demoon review to come
#2 - Eden Noodles Cafe
$20 per person
105 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland
Sichuan Chinese is one of my favourite new cuisines; strong smoky chilli notes, paired with pepper and simply cooked meat and vegetables brings me to nirvana. There are multiple restaurants in Auckland serving these spicy, peppery dishes but Eden Noodles Cafe does it best. The cramped restaurant is crazy busy most of the time, waiting for seating is standard. Popular dishes are almost always sold out by lunch! What you can get your hands on though, is just incredible. Vibrant red, smacks of chilli and pepper, and oh so many varieties of handmade noodle dishes. I haven’t found Sichuan food as moreish elsewhere.
Eden Noodles House review to come
#1 - Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle
$15 per person
486 Queen Street, Auckland Central
Good food doesn’t have to be fancy, clean or even have good service! It just needs to satisfy the soul. Shaolin does just that and is my favourite cheap and cheerful eatery in Auckland. This Chinese restaurant serves Xian and Sichuan food, which have become my favourite cuisines this year. With laminated menus as large as children, there are still dishes I’ve yet to try. My dozens of visits have yielded an understanding of what Shaolin does best: noodles, dumplings and their wok fried meat and vegetable dishes. If you dig into their fatty meat skewers and cumin flavour dishes and you’ll understand why I’m almost addicted to Shaolin Noodles.
Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle review to come