March 8, 2014
Cheap Eats: Chop Chop Noodle House & Whiskey Bar

This week for Cheap Eats I head to a new Asian-fusion venture in Ponsonby chop chop. 

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Fish of the Day ($18)

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Soft-shell crab ($16)

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Steamed pork bun ($8)

Now normally I wouldn’t touch Asian food that’s been mucked about with so as to be termed ‘fusion,’ but Moochowchow changed all of that for me. Some people, like Che Barrington, know what they’re doing when it comes to the mixing of Eastern and Western cuisines. The fusion masterminds behind Moo not long ago opened The Blue Breeze Inn in Ponsonby Central, a decidedly more Chinese venture, and even more recently opened a subsidiary eatery right next door called Chop Chop Noodle House & Whiskey Bar.

Chop Chop Noodle House pulls its inspiration from old-school kung fu movies and cowboy Westerns, but it has a decidedly Tiki-bar appearance which is a nod towards its sister restaurant Blue Breeze Inn. The service here is as fast as lightning (see what I did there?) and it’s the sort of joint one comes for a quick bite. Although drinks are rarely the focus at Cheap Eats (mainly because they are neither cheap nor edible) attention must be paid to Chop Chop’s, whose menu features a number of imaginative cocktails (including non-alcoholic versions) worth a visit all on their own. My virgin Drunken Master ($8) was a tangy, lime and pear concoction with a delectable, sherbet-like topping of freeze-dried mandarin. The menu itself is short, which would make one think that choosing what to eat would be a simple task but it is not. There are ‘fried’ offerings, of which Zoe and I ordered exclusively from due to their inherent shareability, and ‘bowls’ of ramen, including a monstrous-sized Cobra Kai Super Ramen noodle bowl. The descriptors of each dish are enigmatic, outlining simply ‘soft-shell crab, cucumber, sweet miso’ ($16) for one dish and ‘pork bun’ ($8) for another.  We ordered both, plus the fish of the day with udon noodles, kimchi and ginger soy ($18).

All three dishes arrived quickly and together, leaving Zoe and I torn between which dish to start on first. I began by dismembering the soft-shell crab, an exceptional dish of crisply fried crab partially doused in a piquant dressing, be-speckled with that ubiquitous Japanese topping of shichimi togarashi; the latter lent a fiery kick that was quelled by the soothing cucumber salsa that accompanied it. The pork bun was a large steamed bao which Zoe and I happily split: it had that perfectly fluffy, bleached-white bread exterior housing a comforting pork filling that was cleverly off-set by the addition of another tangy cucumber dressing, but this time fragrant with mint. Although a peculiar pairing in theory, I thought the minted dressinged worked well to lift out of obscurity what would otherwise be just another steamed pork bun. Last but not least was the fish of the day, terakihi to be precise. Both impressive in taste as it is in appearance, this was the dish that I’d been looking forward to trying, having seen its image well circulated on Instagram. A bundle of terakihi pieces had been wrapped in udon noodles and deep-fried to create a crispy cage that was imaginatively paired with a spicy tomato salsa that hailed more from the Orient than Mexico.

Zoe and I left a little too full but inspired with the belief that Asian-fusion can work, although fusion is food better experienced in the flesh than through the written word, so you’d best be on your way to Ponsonby Central to try it soon.

Location:  Ponsonby Central, 140 Ponsonby Road

Phone: (09) 360 0708

Hours: 12pm – midnight every day

Prices: fried $8-$18; bowls $14-$18; cobra kai super ramen $25; add-ons $1-$2; sweets $10.

Credit Cards:  Yes

Licensed: Yes

Suitable for Vegetarians: No

Takeaways: No

Bathrooms:  Neat and shared with the other restaurants in Ponsonby Central

Wheelchair Accessible:  No; tables and seating are all bar height. 

February 21, 2014
Cheap Eats: Spice Garden

This week for Cheap Eats I visit a restaurant where South and South East Asia collide. 

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The Parnell end of Quay Street is often the last place one thinks of when wanting food. Better known for that terrible rite of passage, the restricted driver’s license test, the only other reason one visits this isolated block of shops is for the KFC or 24 hour McDonalds. But the shops at number 8 Quay Street are the unexpected home of a restaurant which serves up an equally unexpected pairing of Indian and Thai food.

Spice Garden is a small restaurant styled with a colour scheme that would make The White Stripes proud. There’s plenty of sitting space, but if eating in public isn’t your thing, they do a takeaway and delivery service (and you get 10% off your bill to boot). Their menu doesn’t break the mould of either cuisines but it covers all the basics, including a few classic Indian-Chinese dishes and a number of vegetarian dishes hailing from both countries. Prices are also standard for your average Indian and Thai place, with a slightly higher premium on dishes that used to quack or live under water. And hinting at the restaurant’s slightly stronger Indian roots, all mains are accompanied by rice.

Feeling it would be too difficult to decide on one cuisine or the other, Alex and I embraced bi-culturalism and ordered both; the chicken vindaloo ($15) and the golden basil leaves ($15; a stir-fry of chicken and fresh basil leaves). Although we love a bit of heat, we ordered the vindaloo ‘Kiwi-hot’, not ‘Indian-hot’. As Alex put it, we’re brave, not stupid. What arrived was more medium than hot, but the curry was fragrant with cardamom and had that distinctive tang which makes vindaloo a favourite. Chicken, a meat I try to avoid because it too often is dry, was surprisingly moist and had been basted such that it tasted like it’d been licked by the flame of the tandoor oven.

The chicken in the golden basil leaf stir-fry was comparably less moist and more reminiscent of home-style cooking without the unearthly tenderised meat. This dish too had had the smoky treatment, but this time it was a kiss from a wok. The portion was generous and full of julienned bamboo shoots, which were saturated with the flavours of the stir-fry and lent a moreish, chewy-tender texture to the overall dish. Alex also ordered a mango lassi ($4), a choice motivated by the way drinking it enabled her to have dessert at the same time as dinner. Her lassi was slightly thinner than some, such that it resembled a drink more than the dessert she was hoping for, but it was gone in no time.

Spice Garden’s location puts it slightly out of the way for some, but if you’re indecisive about what to have for dinner, don’t feel compelled to settle for one cuisine. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Location:  Shop 5, 8 Quay Street, Auckland Central
Phone: 302-2444
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:00-10:00pm;  Friday-Sunday 11:30am-3:00pm and 5:30pm-late
Prices: Starters $8-$21; Curry mains $12.90-$17; seafood dishes $17-$25; vegetarian dishes $12-$14.50; rice and noodle dishes $12-$18; soups $8-$17; Thai salads $16-$17; sides $3-$5.50; desserts $5; drinks $3.50-$4.50
Credit Cards:  Yes
Licensed: BYO wine; beer for purchase
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Takeaways: Yes (10% off)  and Home Delivery with Dine-In
Bathrooms:  Fine
Wheelchair Accessible:  Yes

December 20, 2013
Cheap Eats - Indian Kitchen

This week for Cheap Eats I trek to Jervois Road for a taste of the subcontinent. 

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Jervois Road is often overlooked for its dining out potential due to its close proximity to the hospo-hefty Ponsonby strip. A recent discovery, one Indian Kitchen along Jervois Road, makes me now wish I were a Herne Bay local. Situated about half way down is Indian Kitchen, an unsuspecting but well-presented Indian restaurant that was balefully empty on the Thursday evening I visited (although they did a good takeaway trade in the time I was there).

The dining room is dark and moody with lots of Aboriginal art on the walls and a large flat screen playing Bollywood music videos in the background. Rare for an Indian restaurant, Indian Kitchen has a smart wine list (probably to cater for the discerning neighbourhood palate) and a number of ‘adult’ lassi that have been spiked with liquor. The kitchen’s menu is of the Northern persuasion, so many of the curries will be familiar to you. It was refreshing, however, to see a few that don’t often feature on most Indian restaurant menus, including the chicken mughlai and chilli chicken (the latter a by-product of the Chinese-Indian border). Miraculously, whether you’re there for lunch or dinner, all the mains curries (including the vegetarian options) will set you back a mere ten dollars. This realisation is a dangerous one, tempting one is order more curry (and naan bread, and chutneys) than one actually needs. But as they say, curries always taste better the next day.

Not feeling particularly akin to our vegetarian counterparts, my mum and I overlooked the vegetarian options and ordered a beef madras and lamb saagwala (both $10). Although both mains are served with basmati rice, what meal at an Indian restaurant is complete without double carbs, the second namely in the form of naan bread. But instead of opting for the usual naan, I ordered the roti ($2.90; described by the waitress as a less fluffy version of naan), which doesn’t make an appearance on menus often. The curries arrived in traditional copper-toned serving pots and both were exceptional examples of their respective types. The saagwala was a resplendent spirulina-green with a strong garlic, cumin and fennel flavour to it; the lamb itself had been tastily marinated and held its own despite the delicious gravy it was served in. The beef madras was a thick, golden curry nubbly with coconut threads and spiked with ginger, cardamom and mustard seeds. Mum and I both agreed these were the best curries we’d had in a while. The roti was a thin, wholemeal pancake with large blisters all over its surface; I personally preferred this to regular naan bread, for its lightness and rougher texture. 

Despite the geographic disparity between Herne Bay and home, I’d be happy to make the trek to Indian Kitchen again and again if they continue to churn out curries as good as this all the time. The service was attentive (although there were few patrons to distract them), the surrounds immaculate and the food divine. Here’s to discovering the flavours of the subcontinent all over again.

Location: 204 Jervois Road, Herne Bay

Phone: (09) 376 2001

Hours: Lunch Tuesday – Sunday 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner Monday – Sunday 5pm – late.

Prices: Appetisers $6.50-$16; Tandoor $10-$24; Mains $10; Breads $2.90-$11.90; Sides $5-$6; Condiments $3-$8.50

Credit Cards:  Yes

Licensed: Yes

Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes

Takeaways: Yes

Bathrooms: Fit for a raj

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

December 11, 2013
Federal Delicatessen

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Toasted Reuben ($22)

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Meatloaf on rye ($15)

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Banana and toffee pie with caramel popcorn ($11.50)

Looks like Al Brown’s done it again. It started with Depot. Then came Best Ugly. Now Aucklanders are being enchanted by the 1950s Manhattan charm of Federal Delicatessen, which in the short time it has been open, has affectionately come to be known as ‘The Fed’.

Walking into The Fed is like being sucked into a time-warp, where water is served in red acrylic tumblers and linoleum floors and Formica are the vogue.  I half-expected and half-hoped Don Draper would walk in at any moment. The Fed is by no means large, and as it favours the non-system of seating by walk-ins, it pays to visit in smaller groups. On a bustling weekday lunch hour, Zoe and I found ourselves perched at the deli counter in front of the guy whose job was to thinly slice enormous sides of cured salmon. We were like two hungry kittens with our faces (nearly) smooshed against a fishmonger’s window.

If you’re anything like me, anything and everything on The Fed’s menu appeals. I have yet to rise early enough to sample their breakfast fare, but I have my stomach set on the crispy latkes with lox and the smoked mullet hash. The lunch and dinner menu is wide and varying, and demands multiple visits in order to fairly sample the lot. On this particular visit, I couldn’t look past the toasted Reuben sandwich ($22) whilst Zoe, going on a recommendation opted for the turkey meatloaf on rye ($15).

The Fed, like all of Al Brown’s ventures, is a little bit pricey. I can’t remember the last time I paid for a sandwich that cost $10 (wait, yes I can, never). So I can be forgiven for gawking a bit at a sandwich that went for over $20. But when my Reuben arrived, it was nothing short of enormous. And delicious. The slices of pastrami were so thick they were almost slab like, and the rich Russian dressing that accompanied it was off-set well by the tangy dill pickles and sauerkraut. My one gripe is I’d prefer the pastrami to be thinly sliced, with more of a hot and smoky kick to it; Al’s errs on the side of caution. Zoe’s turkey was beautifully moist (which is so often tricky to get right with this bird) and tasty, the cranberry and iceberg lettuce adding a sprightliness to it, making it a much lighter sandwich than mine. I could only finish half of my Reuben. Just. But they do a window-operated take-out service that will happily wrap your leftover sandwich in waxed paper with a cute Fed sticker for you. 

Special mention must go to the slaw that played side-kick to both our sandwiches:it was simple, tangy and utterly moreish.  

The Fed has recently extended their hours so that they close late (like properly, 2am, late) so that weekend revellers can enjoy some real food. Like the night we three shared a slice of their delicious banana toffee pie with caramel popcorn. Think of the best banoffee pie you’ve ever had, then refine it and add some restraint.Then you’ll have The Fed’s version which ticked all the right boxes with its ginger-nut base, just enough caramel to sate your craving for burnt sugar without going overboard and marshmallow-shaped pillows of whipped cream. And, hallelujah, their caramel popcorn is crunchy! 

To quote Kath and Kim, “It’s nice. It’s different. It’s unusual.” The Fed is all these things, and I’ll be back soon for the poutine and oyster stew. And the schnitzel. Oh just all of it.  

Federal Delicatessen

86 Federal St

Auckland CBD

Ph. (09) 363 7184

November 15, 2013
Cheap Eats - Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles

This week for Cheap Eats I went in search of some miserable weather comfort and found it at Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles.

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Kung Fu Spicy Noodles with lamb

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Cleaver-sliced beef noodles

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Chinese lamb burger

Despite the recent bursts of beautiful weather hinting at summer, the wet weather gods have been defiantly battering us with wind and rain. And so it was that my friend Sigourney and I found ourselves on a cold, wet and rainy day in the heart of Balmoral’s dumpling precinct. But we weren’t here for those delicious (and ever so often dirty) morsels. We were in search of spices to warm the palate and a bowl of hand-pulled noodles to soothe our souls.

Shaolin Kung Fu Noodles occupies the corner of Dominion Road and Rockland’s Avenue; a narrowish walk way that is the dining room is lined on either side with tables and wooden booths, of which the latter’s tables are adorned with vibrant cartoon collages. Over the smoked-out glass divider, diners can watch the chef as he throws a thick rope of dough into what will eventually be the best bowl of hand-pulled noodles in town.

Whilst lamb is a rare feature on most Chinese menus in Auckland, Kung Fu’s menu shows the influence of the Muslim population of northern China with their lamb skewers piqued with spices and Chinese lamb burgers. Nose-to-tail eating is another prominent feature on the menu here, with a large number of offal dishes on offer; no chicken’s heart or gizzard has been left to waste here. But vegetarians fear not! You will be looked after just as well here with a number of tofu and vegetable dishes to suit.

After perusing the menu several times over, I plumped for the Kung Fu Spicy noodles ($9.80 for small, $10.80 for large) and one order of the Chinese lamb burger ($5), whilst Sigourney settled on the cleaver-sliced beef noodles ($10 for small, $11 for large). Both our orders were nothing short of impressive. Each bowl was a generous entanglement of wide, flat noodles with an unctuous chewiness I’ve yet to savour in other noodle dishes. Thin ribbons of bean curd and bean thread noodles lent different textures to the soup, whilst the broths themselves were both unique to each of our dishes and deeply soothing. Mine was a richly flavoured stock permeated with coriander spice and decently hot (as indicated by the foreboding slick of red chilli oil floating in my soup) whilst Sigourney’s was a subtler but still flavoursome bowl of the purest beef essence. My Chinese lamb burger was a pleasant surprise: a thick toasted pita bread with a warm yeasty aroma filled with slices of braised, cumin-rich lamb, chopped peanuts and fresh coriander, with the overall effect being the perfect, hand-held snack of spice and crunch. The bread was stained rusty red with chilli oil but its heat was relatively imperceptible, so chilli-phobes may rest easy when ordering this dish.

If these few dishes are representative of what Kung Fu’s kitchen has to offer, I’ll be returning to sample the numerous other noodle soups and the more unusual dishes on the menu. But maybe not the chicken gizzard.

Location: 636 Dominion Road, Balmoral

Phone: (09) 623 6298

Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Sunday 11.30am-11.30pm; Thursday 5pm-11.30pm

Prices: Kebabs $1.20-$2.50 each/$10-$20 per 10; burgers and bread $2-$6; soups $8-$10; noodles $9-$12; dumplings $12-$14; meat and seafood dishes $14-$28; tofu and vegetable dishes $10-$14; cold dishes $8-$14

Credit Cards: Yes

Licensed: No

Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes

Takeaways: Yes

Bathrooms: Okay

Wheelchair Accessible: It would be cramped 

October 27, 2013
New Zealand’s Gastronomic Secrets Revealed | HotelClub

I was recently asked by HotelClub to spill my secrets on the food scene in Auckland which you can read about here

August 20, 2013
Late Night Diner

This week for Cheap Eats I made like a night hawk for Ponsonby’s Late Night Diner.

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After visiting Late Night Diner on Ponsonby Road for supper recently, I have developed a taste for red lights and dimly lit alleyways. Late Night Diner has proven to be an exciting development for Auckland’s after-hours dining scene, where previously the offerings were few and the calibre poor.

Stepping into Late Night Diner’s narrow dining room is reminiscent of stepping into an Edward Hopper painting, only darker and cast in a red hue by the glowing neon sign in the front window. With the option of booths or stools at the counter, from which you can observe the activities of the open kitchen, the place is dripping with nostalgic Americana kitsch.

Everything on the menu, save for three dishes, goes for less than twenty dollars, with dishes to suit every sort of appetite, whether you feel like an old school burger with fries, pork belly with celeriac and apple mash or a slice of butter nut pumpkin pie. Although I was quite taken by the idea of a duck and potato hash with soft boiled egg ($15), I waived this choice for my friend Shivani and instead thought I’d put this diner’s kitchen to the test with the cheese and bacon burger with fries ($15), whilst our friend Emma plumped for the mac ‘n’ cheese ($11).

Although it took a while for our dishes to arrive, when they finally did, none of us were disappointed. My cheese and bacon burger was rather enormous (after a hand-to-mouth trial I concluded it far too large for me to take a bite lest I unhinge my jaw), accompanied by some of the most fantastic fries I’ve had in a long while. Cut to shoestrings, they were piping hot but perfectly crisp with their skins retained and dusted liberally with salt. It took all my will power not to order an extra side of them. My burger patty was thick and juicy and glistened a rosy pink, exactly as a medium-rare patty should. The grilled cheese it rested on had a strong, mature flavour that beat all the other slabs of yellow and orange plastic I’d had in the past and the long slivers of pickled cucumber were refreshing as was the tangy onion relish that lay on top.

Emma’s mac ‘n’ cheese, although rather smaller than expected, was surprisingly light, without that oily cloyingness that reminds one that their risk of a heart attack has just increased, whilst Shivani’s hash was deliciously textured with shredded duck meat, chopped gherkins and some unidentifiable crunchy bits, tied together by the silky runny egg yolk.

Feeling far too full after my American-sized burger, I resigned myself to watching Shivani and Emma eat their chocolate and peanut butter fondant and butter nut pumpkin pie respectively (both $12). The fondant was perfectly executed, with a small torrent of molten chocolate, flecked with blebs of peanut butter, flowing from its centre; the pumpkin pie’s golden filling, though solid in appearance, was incredibly light and warm with spices.

Late Night Diner offers the best of all-American dining with extras, from imaginative mains to the grown-up milkshakes fortified with a shot of something much stronger than strawberry syrup. Whether you’re interested in dinner, some deep-fried pickles to go with your drinks or just dessert, Late Night Diner is certainly worth a visit.

Location: 152 Ponsonby Road
Phone: (09) 361-2320
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 5pm-late; Thursday-Sunday 5pm-2am
Prices: Starters $6-$10.50; sandwiches and burgers $8-$17; pies $13; home-cooking $11-$23; sides and salads $5-$9.50; desserts $11-$12; shakes and sodas $6-$16.50; cocktails $16.50
Credit Cards:  Yes
Licensed: Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Takeaways: Yes
Bathrooms: The writing on the wall’s a bit weird, you’ll see what I mean
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

August 15, 2013
Eat It. turned 3 today!
Gosh has it really been that long?! Thank you to all my lovely readers over the years; I love eating and writing about it and I hope you enjoy reading about it!
Cheers to more eating, drinking, writing and merriment! x

Eat It. turned 3 today!

Gosh has it really been that long?! Thank you to all my lovely readers over the years; I love eating and writing about it and I hope you enjoy reading about it!

Cheers to more eating, drinking, writing and merriment! x

(Source: assets)

July 17, 2013
The Lucky Taco

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Aucklanders are all too familiar with fast food in its various guises: the Big Mac, the kebab, the Pizza Hut. But now we’re witnessing the next stage in fast food evolution: it’s fresher, more diverse, and has grown a set of wheels. Meet the food truck.

A number of food trucks have been seen propping up their awnings kerbside and in car parks around Auckland, and one has even opened its own garage. Last Friday I visited the latest addition to this new breed of brisk dining, The Lucky Taco, parked up in its usual spot at 230 Ponsonby Road. The Lucky Taco truck was a refreshing sight on a grey winter’s day; the Mexican music was pumping, their multi-coloured bunting was flapping in the wind and a small queue of customers had already formed prior to opening time.

Their colourful chalkboard menu is short and sweet; there’s tacos, and up until recently, tacos. And horchata (iced rice milk infused with cinnamon and sugar) or a hibiscus cooler to drink. I came not just to finally wrap my lips around one of their much tweeted about tacos but to try a new addition to the menu, the chilli bowl. The tacos rotate regularly, with the vegetarian, organic pulled pork or spicy fish options on offer when I visited. Not unsurprisingly I ordered one pulled pork and one spicy fish taco ($12) and a bowl of chilli ($10) to share.

I like that The Lucky Taco offers a choice of flour or corn tortillas; I personally prefer the corn ones as they are much more flavoursome. Both my tacos were served on soft corn tortillas (which had lovely black grill-marks on them) topped with pickled red onions, spicy avocado cream and red cabbage with a wee bit of pickled carrot and jalapeno on the side. Both were fresh and tangy (save for the fish which could have been fresher), each mouthful tied together well by a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of one of their many hot sauces (of which they have quite a line-up). While I was tucking into my tacos, Jamie began on the chilli bowl; it was a rather sizeable portion (by Ponsonby standards) of stewed minced beef and kidney beans topped with red cabbage, pickles, lime sauce and crispy shallots, and accompanied by a tortilla. “It’s a bit watery,” said Jamie, quickly adding “not that I’m a connoisseur of chilli.” But I had to agree with her; the flavours were rather insipid but curiously over-powered by cinnamon. There was at least some heat to it and it was somewhat improved by the lime sauce and coriander, but some tinkering with the flavours was still needed to give this chilli some real Mexican pow-wow.

The Lucky Taco, along with other food trucks, is an interesting new development in fast food where people can keep astride where they can next get their taco-fix through the likes of Twitter and Facebook. For lovers of tacos and Mexican, The Lucky Taco is worth stalking down whether it is for a breakfast taco, lunch taco or dinner taco.

The Lucky Taco 

230 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

(Check website for weekly schedule)

Ph. 021 362 008 or 021 684 771

June 27, 2013
Cheap Eats - Kati Grill

This week for Cheap Eats I sample a lesser-known Indian street food, the kati roll

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Lamb seekh kebab kati roll ($9.90)

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Masala chips ($3.90)

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Paneer pakoda ($4.90)

Most of us are all too familiar with the often mediocre and occasionally good kebab that herald from the Middle East, yet few of us have been acquainted with the kati roll, India’s answer to this much loved (and hated) street food. If Dominion Road is the place to go for dumplings, then K’ Road is the place to go for kebabs. Having celebrated its second birthday last month, I thought it was high time I visit Kati Grill on K’ Road to see what all the fuss was about.

And what a fuss people should make. I shan’t want for a tabouleh and hummus-filled kebab anytime soon having sampled the kati rolls at Kati Grill. A bright and white, hole-in-the-wall joint next to K’ Road’s Ironbank, Kati Grill serves kati rolls, a popular Indian street food consisting of a paratha (flat bread) wrapped around a layer of egg and meat that has been roasted in the tandoor oven. The menu consists mostly of kati rolls with some familiar fillings (chicken tikka masala, butter chicken) and some less recognisable (chicken hariyali, reshmi chicken); there are also a large number of vegetarian and vegan options that my vegetarian dining companion Sam ogled with glee. For the carb-phobics you can remove the paratha and order a meat or paneer platter instead. There are a small number of rice-based mains and some interesting sounding sides, including masala chips, crunchy munchy corn and filled parathas.

I ordered a lamb seekh kati roll combo ($13.80), which came with a side of masala chips and a bottled soft drink whilst Sam ordered the veggie kati roll combo and a mango lassi ($15.50). Feeling greedy, I also ordered a side of paneer pakoda ($4.90) for us to share. Although Kati Grill would class itself as ‘fast food’, it certainly came a lot slower than its namesake would suggest. But neither Sam nor I minded as there were plenty of tables and seating to wait at: in my mind, my kati roll was being lovingly cooked and wrapped in the way that most fast-food places fail to do. Sam’s mango lassi was a gorgeous golden yellow with an honest mango flavour, although it was disconcertingly thick and creamy compared to the lassies we were used to, the texture more dessert-like than drink-like. Our kati rolls were first to arrive, cutely packaged in colourful cardboard tubes reminiscent of McDonald’s hot apple pies. The paratha that encased my seekh kebab was nicely chewy and lightly blistered all over; the seekh kebab itself was pleasingly red from the tandoor marinade and fragrantly spicy as requested (they cater for mild palates as well). The lamb was lean and tender, with the accompanying sautéed onions and peppers adding a nice crunch, whilst the mint chutney was tangy and warm with ginger. Then came the masala chips, followed by the paneer pakoda, both of which were hot and fresh from the deep fryer. I feel like I’ve discovered India’s answer to the much loved KFC fries; coated in several different aromatic spices, the masala chips were ridiculously moreish. The paneer pakoda were slices of Indian cottage cheese, coated in a chickpea batter reddened with spices and then flash fried till crispy, before finally being sprinkled with the mysterious masala concoction and served alongside their mint chutney. These were surprisingly bland for my taste despite their spicy treatment although texture-wise it ticked all the boxes.

Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner out or a early-morning kebab to soak up the residual alcohol leftover from a night out, if you love a bit of spice or have a hankering for something out of the ordinary, then you should try Kati Grill.

Location: 146 Karangahape Rd, Auckland

Phone: (09) 302 5284

Hours: Sunday-Tuesday 11am-10pm; Wednesday-Thursday 11am-11pm; Friday-Saturday 11am-1am

Prices: Kati rolls $7.90/$9.90; meat or paneer platters $6/$12; parathas $6.90; Rice meals $9.90; sides $3.90-$12.90; drinks $2.20-$4

Credit Cards:  Yes

Licensed: No

Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes

Takeaways: Yes

Bathrooms: None available

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

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