Restaurant Review: Gusto at the Grand

Situated inside SkyCity Grand (where the old Dine by Peter Gordon once stood), Gusto is a rustic Italian cuisine with plates designed to share. It is advertised to use simple food and ingredients with a menu designed by Sean Connolly.

I have been to Gusto previously (prior to me keeping a food blog) and unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the food there too much as it was quite salty. Months later today I thought I’d give it another chance when my friend wanted to have Italian cuisine for dinner.

2015-11-15 18.27.23

The menu

My friend and I were looking for a smaller meal tonight, so we went straight to the pasta and leave a little room for dessert. We ordered the mushroom risotto and fresh clam spaghetti, with seasonal asparagus tossed in lemon butter sprinkled with Parmesan cheese as a side to share.

2015-11-15 19.19.01

I love the freshness in the clam spaghetti, in fact, it was so light and tasty I felt I could have another order of that. My friend who had the risotto felt her food was very salty and I agree. We couldn’t finish the risotto in the end (despite me still feeling I was able to eat another main) because it was really quite salty. (Felt like my kidneys had to work hard to get rid of the salt!)

For dessert we ordered the much loved Lewis Road pannacotta, with strawberry and rhubarb, and the Bombolini filled with nutella (guilty pleasure). They were both really good but the portion is seriously for sharing only. I’ll recommend sharing between 2-3 for these desserts as they are quite big.

Overall the mean was fulfilling but I won’t say it is up to the standard or expectations of the other restaurants within the complex.

I’ll give it 2/5 for the amount of salt used in food!

SKYCITY Grand Hotel
90 Federal Street, Auckland

OPENING HOURS

Breakfast
Monday-Friday 6.30am-10.30am
Saturday & Sunday 6.30am-11.00am

Lunch
Daily 12pm-2.30pm

Dinner
Daily 5pm–late

Restaurant Review: Ramen Takara

So we went to Ramen Takara tonight and I have to admit, we will be critical! One of us have lived in Japan for a year, and the others have either frequently visited Japan and speak Japanese, or have gone around the world trying ramen from various countries.

Back to Ramen Takara. Atmosphere – tick!

2015-06-26 18.46.12

Menu – tick! It has a good variety of food and we even ordered a few little plates to share.

2015-06-26 18.46.25

The ramen – hmmmm….best I could give it is a pass. The egg was nice, the noodle was fine, the soup was very salty but I could accept it. If you have had ramen before you will know, one of the other major factor of the ramen is the pork! Comes with the order was two slices of chashu, I was very hungry that night so asked for extra order. First I was stunted by the price (right I saw that on the menu and wanted it anyway so I am not complaining). But what I am complaining about is the quality of it!!! I got 4 extra slices for a side order of chashu, and just about to enjoy them, I realise I couldn’t bite one through! It was really tough and very very chewy. None of the chashu I’ve eaten was this tough!

2015-06-26 19.31.23

Great disappointment by the ramen chashu, but all other food were adequate. Not that I will be rushing by in again, or recommend this place if you are looking for good ramen, which is their core product!

http://www.ramentakara.co.nz/ponsonby.php

Restaurant Review: Cafe Hanoi

Auckland Heart of the City Restaurant Month!

Our usual party of 5 has gone food hunting again, this time we went for the Restaurant Month – Cafe Hanoi!

2015-08-30 17.58.04

Behind the red doors it lies a warm, welcoming place. No booking is taken for dinner, but you can book for the private function room or drop in a little earlier to ‘reserve’ a table. On the night we were there, there were a few large parties but the service was prompt and attentive.

2015-08-30 18.01.55 2015-08-30 17.57.44

We ordered three portion of the Restaurant Month set menu and “modern Vietnamese” dishes, which includes:

  • Phở Ga – Traditional Vietnamese chicken noodle soup (Restaurant Month set)
    Gỏi cuốn -Summer rolls of roasted pork, shrimp, fresh herbs & peanuts (Restaurant Month set)
  • Nộm bò khô – Home-cured spicy dried beef salad w green papaya, sesame & crushed peanuts (Restaurant Month set)
  • Bún chả – Hanoi-style grilled pork w nuoc cham, rice noodles & fragrant herbs (Restaurant Month set)
  • Chả cá – Wok seared market fish marinated in turmeric, shrimp paste, ginger & galangal w round beans, peanuts & rice noodles (Restaurant Month set)
  • Tiger prawn cutlets coated in young green rice w house chilli sauce
  • Chicken thigh w kaffir lime, lemongrass, ginger & okra
  • Roasted loligo squid stuffed w pork, wood ear mushrooms & glass noodles w a hot & sour tamarind sauce; and
  • Pork spare ribs, twice cooked w five spice, ginger sesame & grilled lime
Tiger prawn cutlets and three Phở Ga (chicken noodle soup)

Tiger prawn cutlets and three Phở Ga (chicken noodle soup)

from left Bún chả - Hanoi-style grilled pork Chả cá - Wok seared market fish Nộm bò khô – Home-cured spicy dried beef salad plus a steamed rice

from left
Bún chả – Hanoi-style grilled pork
Chả cá – Wok seared market fish
Nộm bò khô – Home-cured spicy dried beef salad
plus a steamed rice

from top... Pork spare ribs Chicken thigh w kaffir lime

from top…
Pork spare ribs
Chicken thigh w kaffir lime

(yes, the Roasted loligo squid stuffed w pork and Gỏi cuốn -Summer rolls were so good we demolished them before any photos were taken.)

and dessert…

  • Bánh trôi Tàu – a traditional warm Vietnamese dessert w sesame dumplings, peanuts & coconut (Restaurant Month set)
  • Sago pudding in white chocolate & yoghurt cream w palm sugar caramel
  • Mango mousse w fresh shredded coconut & candied green rice
  • Hot soy milk doughnut w cinnamon sugar & caramel sauce
Mango mousse (left), Sago pudding (right)

Mango mousse (left), Sago pudding (right)

Mango mousse (left), hot soy milk doughnut with cinnamon (right), Bánh trôi Tàu - a traditional warm Vietnamese dessert (bottom)

Mango mousse (left), hot soy milk doughnut with cinnamon (right), Bánh trôi Tàu – a traditional warm Vietnamese 

The mango mousse was so light and tasty we felt we could have one each!

Overall the meal was fantastic, service was great although it was a very busy night for the restaurant. Food were so good we all kept our heads down and ate them all in no time!

http://www.heartofthecity.co.nz/restaurant-month
http://www.cafehanoi.co.nz/

Restaurant Review: @Bangkok

Cheap eats…ahhh so important! What would I do without you cheap eat restaurants!? I mean, who doesn’t like to go out for a little gathering with friends, but who can always afford $50 on food for a dinner all the time?

Tonight we were a large group of 13 including a toddler who was very happy to eat anything.

For the ease of sharing we split the table into two ends, so we were sharing things between 6 adults. We ordered a beef salad, raw prawn salad, a prawn tom yum soup in steamboat, green curry with pork, basil and beef stir fry and chicken pad thai. While the other half of the table has ordered a whole lemon and chili snapper, a tom yum beef noodle, basil and beef stir fry and duck green curry. We also ordered plenty of ugly rotti and few steamed rice to share.

2015-08-16 19.20.362015-08-16 19.20.28

The food were so good I only managed to take these two photos and then we dug in!

The beef salad end up being my favourite of the night. We asked for medium and it was just the right heat, while the beef were tender, mixes well with the cruntchy salads. The tom yum soup was a little sweet to my liking, and we think the coconut milk doesn’t do so well being cooked/heated continuously in this steamboat. Next time we would have just asked for it in a big pot.

Portion wise I would recommend no more than 6 people to share each plate, because it all end up being 1-1.5 piece of every plate. Excellent for tasting or if you are not too hungry; but if you are, aim for 1-1.5 plate per person.

Price range: $25-30 for a shared meal with BYO wine and a few beers for most.
Address: 438 New North Rd, Kingsland, Auckland 1021.
Parking: street parking or car park just before the restaurant.
Booking: recommended if you don’t want to be disappointed! Plenty of people have called and dropped in to pick up takeaway throughout the night too.

Restaurant Review: Peasant

“Peasant” – English. A poor smallholder or agricultural labourer of low social status (chiefly in historical use or with reference to subsistence farming in poorer countries).

Owner of Peasant was certainly not a farmer, but he definitely know how to make the most of his raw ingredients and turn them into enjoyable food. In fact, I purposely write this review after dining there for the second time because I wanted to be able to review on more items off its menu.

2015-07-14 12.24.28

2015-07-14 12.30.28  2015-07-14 12.30.38

The menu might appear small, but they regularly change items on menu, creating food using only the freshest ingredients in season.

For lunch, I had the beef pho which the tasty broth is only made daily. They often sell out over lunch and it is a lunch only item.

For dinner, our party of 5 decided to order a few dishes to share. We went for their special pork ribs (not on menu), pork belly, chicken wings, lamb skewers, egg tofu, daikon wontons, roast duck and brocolini.

2015-08-02 19.03.10 2015-08-02 19.04.02 2015-08-02 19.06.42 2015-08-02 19.06.47 2015-08-02 19.07.36 2015-08-02 19.07.41 2015-08-02 19.26.23

Dishes were of good portions and they are great for sharing, the sauce is a little salty but goes well with a rice.

Brilliant cheap eat. This place has recently got their BYO licence so come in chill out with your friends. Close Monday.

Tuna filled portobello mushrooms

Quick cooking tonight because there were just the two of us.

First we have portobello mushrooms filled with tuna fish and drizzle with truffle oil. For a difference, we also have a second portobello filled with mashed potato and bacon (guilty pleasure). Both of them were covered with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Cooking time was 10-15 minutes in the oven, grilled at 200 degrees Celsius or until cheese were melted and golden.

2015-05-21 17.54.07

Finished product, garnish with fresh mint leaves

Finished product, garnish with fresh mint leaves

 

Restaurant review: Chinoiserie (Mt Albert)

Tonight we were looking for a cheap eat! We wanted to hang out and not have to worry about cooking and cleaning, but not having to break our wallets for good food.

Although I’m not normally a fan of fusion cuisine, this one is less ‘fusion’ than I thought – which means the taste is actually quite authentic!

Supposedly serving Taiwanese food but very Vietnamese looking decor

Supposedly serving Taiwanese food but very Vietnamese looking decor

The menu is designed for small bites and sharing which got me worried – I WAS VERY HUNGRY! People who have been following my posts probably knows that I can eat a cow in any given day.

The menu

The menu

Well….there you go I ordered a Gua Bao which is a milky bun wrapping with fillings of your choice. I went for the pulled beef cheeks with kimchi (Korean pickled spicy cabbage), seasame seeds and spring onion. My friends both ordered the braised pork belly with Gong sauce and bok choi, coriander and peanuts.

Braised pork belly Gua Bao

Braised pork belly Gua Bao

Pulled beef cheek Gua Bao

Pulled beef cheek Gua Bao

They were both very soft and tender, with a wonderfully complimentary taste of sauce and seasoning. The bun is about the size of a palm so we also ordered some sides to have a more balanced diet.

Asian slaw

Asian slaw

Coconut crusted squid rings

Coconut crusted squid rings

Sticky chicken nibbles

Sticky chicken nibbles

And of course we washed the food down with some Asahi beers 😉 and finished with dessert – black sticky rice served with salted coconut cream. The dessert was substantial enough to replace a standard bowl of rice so ordering dessert is a must for those hungry people!

Black sticky rice with salted coconut cream

Black sticky rice with salted coconut cream

All in all the meal was satisfying. The portions were just right for you to order more plates to share and leaving room for dessert. I felt that I could eat the entire food choice again on the menu next time if I go back after exercising – yes, hungus much!

The meal cost $36 per person including one bottle of beer.

One word of advice for potential restaurant patrons – have a strong bladder or avoid the toilet! If you really need to go, you might need some clothing pegs to keep your sense of smell disabled temporarily.