Okay let’s be honest here. When we think of Indian food, we think takeaways, butter chicken, and naan bread. It’s always plastic containers and never beautiful ceramics. We hardly find ourselves craving for Indian food, but Cassia has totally changed the game. The interior is almost the same as when it was a dumpling bar but the entrance is wider and more inviting. For restaurant month we were served five courses for $55. It was an amazing meal and kept us talking for days. The beef short rib with madras curry was heavenly. The beef fell apart easily, it was soft but still retained texture, and packed full of flavour. The fish was fresh, and perhaps a little dry but it was a light dish and the perfect predecessor to the beef. A definite favourite round the table was the raw scallops and prawn pakora with green chilli. We ended with a yoghurt panna cotta. It was refreshing with grapes, cubes of pineapple and a buttermilk sorbet. We were well and truly satisfied. The food is served in brilliant bowls, though at times not quite handy for fork and knife action.
Trust us, you have to go.
Cassia (book online, it’s super easy!)
No.5 Fort Lane, Auckland Central
Madam Woo is the talk of (Queens)town and now she’s here in Takapuna, Auckland. Last night was opening night. We waited an hour and half for a table – dedicated foodies unite. Albeit the numerous fusion restaurants popping up all over, this one does not claim to be fusion but rather authentic Malaysian street food presented in a modern way.
Asian food, bar Japanese, is a difficult one. You either get authentic food that is dirt cheap, served at bright white light restaurants with plastic flyaways and grudging service. Or you get overpriced dishes that are borderline authentic paired with amazing decor, excellent service and presented like art. Madam Woo is the latter.
Things you should get:
- Chicken Hawker rolls ($14). We could have easily done with one each. This was definitely our favourite of the night. The roti is perfectly flaky and the chicken tender and well seasoned. It was a party in your mouth.
- Lemongrass mousse with goji berries and lychee ($12). This is more like a lemongrass panna cotta rather than a mousse. It’s refreshing and the goji berries are sweet and plump. A great end to a meal.
- Ping Pong Cocktail ($16). We love lychee and passionfruit so this was Friday night heaven.
- Roti ($5). Roti. Roti.
- Chicken satay ($12).
Other things we tried:
- Pulled pork Hawker rolls ($14). These were insanely sweet and salty. The pork was drenched in sauce. No amount of roti could save this one.
- Fish curry ($32). The fish was fresh and well cooked but it tasted more like tomyum than curry and there was hardly any sauce to dip your roti and pour over your rice.
- Rice. This was a little shocking. What we got resembled leftover rice from last night, it was hard and dry.
- Mango sago ($12). Mango MIA.
- Pork belly ($19). The greens were delicious but the meat itself was nothing out-of-the-world.
- Tofu ($16).
- Portugese egg tarts ($7).
Things to try if you’re in for something different:
- Black sesame chilli handmade ice cream ($7). You forget that it said chilli on the menu until you’ve swallowed your mouthful of creamy ice cream and suddenly your throat firing up a little. You either love it or hate it. We had both parties at the dinner table.
For opening night, the service was great. Our waitress was friendly, gave us recommendations and checked in on us frequently. The food came out at a reasonable pace. Our only let down was when they’d skipped our name on the waiting list and hadn’t given us a call.
Can’t say that we’ve been converted, street food is still best on the streets.
486 Lake Road, Takapuna, Auckland.
Saying the Eastern Suburbs are lacking in good eateries is an understatement, we are almost in the endangered specie situation. Charlie & George is in the Stonefields neighbourhood. I hate to say but the surroundings are pretty gloomy, the houses all look the same, there is a LiquorKing, a Speight’s bar, a Yoga place, a SuperValue store [coming soon] and that’s about it. Thankfully Charlie & George is bright and colourful and reasonably busy which gives the area a bit more ‘life’. Now the banoffee smoothie ($7.50) is highly raved about and rightfully so. The berry smoothie ($7.50) not as exciting. We enjoyed the Soup of the Day (chicken and corn, $12) as well as the Eggs Benedict ($16.50) but the hollandaise needed an extra flavour kick. The pea risotto ($18) was fairly standard and maybe a little bland. It was delicious on the first few bites but the portion was so large we’d had enough halfway through. Service is quick and friendly. It’s great to be able to enjoy solid cafe food without having to drive 30-40 minutes and battling it out with parking. Will definitely be back for the banoffee smoothie, and the soup and also to try some more of the menu!
P.S. There’s this little shop around the corner that stocks IKEA products only, feel free to go play pretend in the kitchen and bedroom sections.
Charlie & George
4/40 Stonefields Avenue, Mt Wellington, Auckland
As we enter the cold, all we want to do is eat noodles and drink soup all day long. Ramen Takara has just opened along Ponsonby Road, just in time for Winter. The restaurant has a bar and a courtyard but it is small. There is next to none waiting space so bear that in mind when you are faced with a 40-minute wait time and howling wind and rain outside. The Tonkotsu ($13 + $3 for extra noodles) and Black Sesame Dan Dan Noodles ($15.50) were our favourites. The Tonkotsu wasn’t overpoweringly salty, it was perfectly creamy and the noodle texture just right. If we are comparing (of course we are), Takara has smaller portions than Ramen Do. The egg is also not as well done as Do’s molten goodness. Yet overall we prefer Takara because we just can’t get enough of those noodles and soup. Wouldn’t recommend the sides, stick to the ramen though if desperate, order the Karaage Chicken. Service though is still lacking as it is only a week or so old – the bartenders were definitely confused. Give it a few more weeks and we will definitely be back again!
272 Ponsonby Road, Auckland
Back a few years, bagel cravings meant a trip to Maccas for their breakfast menu. It was strangely satisfying, the eggs and bacon combo. Though now at long last we have a few of our own bagel hideouts. So long to the oily, sloppy, paper wrapped before 10:30am munchies. Goodness Gracious serves New York style bagels with a wide variety of toppings. Faced with so many choices I ordered The Sampler, so I could try more. The Sampler ($17) is three mini sized bagels of your choice. Between the CAB (chicken and avocado), the Classic (smoked salmon and cream cheese), and the B.L.A.T. the latter was definitely my favourite. The relish and crispy bacon won me over. The CAB chicken was too dry. My friends had the Bene Bagel ($14.50) and Vege Bagel ($11). The Bene is ideal if you are famished. It comes with two eggs and heavy hollandaise which thickens quickly. The Vege Bagel was delicious, satisfying even for meat-lovers. The bagelry is right at the mouth of Kingsland and is busy constantly. There aren’t a lot of seats, so you may want to consider takeaway. Service is a little slow, we’d almost finished our bagels before our drinks came. Check out their Instagram for some more drool-worthy pics.
2A New North Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland