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Photographs: David Straight

Tucked away down a back alley behind Golden Dawn, what was once a travelling grill has become a permanent fixture of Ponsonby Road. There is a massive open plan kitchen and lots of blackened steel – festooned with fairground bulbs – and saloon-style wooden chairs and raw timber, along with an ominious-looking bull painted on the back wall. It is particularly inviting at night.

For meat like this, though, we’ll forgive the fairground / industrial fit out: the owners have imported an industrial sized smoker from the States. It goes on in the morning and runs late into the evening, creating beautifully tender meat with a subtle pohutukawa smoke. There are other things on the menu – recently we ate freshly shucked Pacific oysters from Kaipara, natural with a shallot dressing and the perfect sort of accompaniment to slow-cooked meat. Other items feel like an afterthought: we weren’t enthused by the buttermilk fried chicken, which was bland, or an undressed salad with pecans and goat’s cheese. We ate some chips but they were just expensive.

Doesn’t matter. Go for barbecue: venison ribs ($26) come plastered in a glossy house made barbecue sauce, rich with honey and thyme. The short rib ($32) is given full flavour by smoking on the bone, and comes with tangy pickles. And the brisket ($32) is a beautifully tender, full-flavoured piece of meat with a subtle red tinge from the charcoal. KR

HOURS Monday to Sunday, 11am until 3pm, 5pm until 11pm.

ADDRESS Lot 3, 130 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360-4075.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Coming soon: meat for breakfast.



Photographs: David Straight

Rockefeller is an oyster and champagne bar in in a fantastic old brick warehouse on a windswept expanse of Fanshawe Street, a relic of a former age when this was the edge of the harbour and and there were no buses or cars racing to get to the motorway. It’s classic in the way you’d expect an oyster bar to be – heavy timber beams, exposed brick walls, marble and butcher’s tiles – but there are also mod lights and a touch of industrial punk. There’s also a highly excellent soundtrack: it’s owned by Camilla Martin (bFM, among other things) and Tim Arnold (Pluto).

The service is great and so is the champagne – what a list! – but most importantly, they do an excellent Negroni. You sit in the window and there is a sense of the city rushing and heaving around you: eating oysters is all about time and contemplation of something incredibly simple. We’ve eaten Nelson Bay Kono oysters ($6 a pop) and a mixed dozen ($38) of Kaipara Pacifics and some beautiful, creamy, intense Te Matukus from Waiheke Island. They also do some of the best hand-cut chips in town – they are mammoth, crunchy on the outside and perfectly fluffy inside, great big builder finger chips.

We’ve eaten the “Member of the Board” ($39) platter of seasonal fish and that was pretty good, but after the deathly simple elegance of an oyster, it seemed somehow too complicated. We plan to come here often and eat chips and oysters and drink Negronis. What else do you need? SFG

HOURS Tuesday and Saturday, 4pm until late; Wednesday to Friday, 12pm until late.

ADDRESS 104 Fanshawe Street, City, ph 379-4209.

IMPORTANT DETAILS You can book, and make sure you do – this joint is quickly becoming the local for corporates around the area.




The hilarious name, a badly translated menu (some of it’s in German?), the picture of Helen Clark circa 1996, and a chance to meet the owner – Grumpy Dumpling Lady – are reasons enough to visit Chinese Dumpling King. Situated next door to the fish market in the Lim Supermarket complex on New North road, it’s cheap eating at its finest.

The owner is wonderfully rude, but will point out recommendations to speed up your ordering. Basically she’ll tell you what you’re having – just roll with it. Most recently we ate lamb and beef dumplings ($8.50 for 20), beautifully savoury, albeit a little dry, shredded pancake with chicken ($8.50) and pork with round bean ($12.00), with sautéed green beans, garlic and pork loin – tender and sweet.

The dumplings are great: thick, flavourful and freshly made by hand each day. Get in early enough and you’ll see the ladies of the house sitting at the back of the restaurant gossiping away while they make them. And you really should try the eggplant with pepper and chilli: sticky, melting pieces of Chinese eggplant, cooked with garlic, carrot and little flecks of Sichuan pepper. Enjoy piping hot while your lips slowly numb. KR

HOURS Monday to Sunday, 11am until 10pm.

ADDRESS 949 New North Road, Auckland, ph 815 3858.

IMPORTANT DETAILS They sell frozen dumplings to take away – $12 for three bags with basic fillings. Be sure to consult the cooking instructions – they’re helpfully stuck to the wall above the freezer.






You came from as far afield as Flat Bush and Birkdale and Henderson Valley and we’re very glad you did.

At Masu by Nic Watt last night, we ate some of the finest Japanese food we’ve yet tasted, with accompanying sakes – there was a dish of cold soba with a beautiful crab stock and little flaked pieces of crab, and a dish of foraged herbs with a yuzu dressing and tiny little radishes, slightly bitter and beautiful on the plate. There was rabbit – rabbit! – two ways and salmon three ways including one with charred kombu, the flavours interplaying and receding, refined and delicate and yet strong. The sakes were alternately dry and sweet and one was even funky in the way that a reductive wine is. They went beautifully with the food.

In short, we loved our dinner at Masu. Thank you to everyone who came and thank you to Meg Abbott-Walker for looking after us.




Photographs: David Straight

Its very brilliant moniker aside, Wang Wang Spring Pancake – to use its full name – is a small, spotlessly clean little shopfront on Dominion Road – the service is friendly, and they will happily tell you what to eat and how much. They serve many things here, but they’re side shows for the main event, chunbing which are the spring pancakes – in the north of China, they’re a traditional food for spring: light, stretchy pancakes wrapped around meat and vegetables. It’s known as biting the spring and it brings you good luck.

At Wang Wang, they serve these pancakes year round: you choose how many you want ($5 for 10 or $2.50 for five) and then what filling; we can highly recommend the pork with peking sauce ($13) which is dark and sticky, and the stir-fried potato noodle with chilli ($9.80) which is a wonderful thing: matchsticks of potato, stir-fried al dente and shockingly good. You wrap up the filling with a bit of spring onion inside the pancake and then you bite down and the potato is crunchy and the pork is sticky, and in this way they are wonderful any day of the year. SFG

HOURS Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to 4pm, 5pm to 10pm.

ADDRESS 704 Dominion Road, Balmoral, ph 630 3916.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Trust them, reluctantly, when they say 10 pancakes and two fillings is more than enough for two people.