We’ve been waiting for this for a very long time. We gave up on Thai in Auckland, sick of canned bamboo shoots, crinkle-cut carrots and watery curries with too much sugar. Then we went to Moochowchow, which opened in April in a big villa up the top of Ponsonby Road that used to be Rocco. One of the owners is the same: the space hasn’t changed much, and it has the same pacey feel – only now there are long communal tables.
The menu is inventive. There is a Mussaman goat curry ($30) slow-cooked to perfection, fragrant with spices; we’re sorry they took the sour orange fish curry off, which was fantastically sour. There is a caramelised pork hock ($16 or $25), sticky and crunchy and fatty. There is a five-spice roast chook (half for $20 or whole for $30), charry on the outside and just cooked on the inside. In season, there are betel leaves stuffed with fish ($4.50), which are a revelation. We’d advise you to try the crispy soft-shell crab ($18), punchy with fish sauce and lime.
Quibbles? Some. On our first visit, the food was out of balance. Everything was too sweet, and there wasn’t enough chilli or salt or citrus zing – on subsequent visits, everything was much punchier, but they’re still working that through. We’d like to see more herbs – in bowls on the tables, perhaps. But let’s put it into context: there is nowhere else in Auckland that serves Thai food like this. Nowhere. The fact you can wash it down with a decent bottle of Central Otago rose makes it that much better. SFG
HOURS Lunch, Tuesday to Friday, midday to 3; dinner, Monday to Saturday, 4pm to late.
ADDRESS 23 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360-6262. www.moochowchow.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS There’s a private room upstairs. We strongly suggest you book it and take some friends.