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BLUE BREEZE INN

DST-BLUEBREEZEINN-6547

DST-BLUEBREEZEINN-6643

DST-BLUEBREEZEINN-6576

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[Photographs: David Straight]

Auckland has needed a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t have fluorescent lighting for a long time – so when the Blue Breeze Inn opened, we were hopeful. The fitout is fabulous, China by way of a tropical resort, lots of dark timber and colourful prints and mad lighting and bold tiling in the toilets. Waiters wear Hawaiian shirts, there is a great selection of craft beers and the music is great – it’s genuinely a fun place to be. Service is good – bouncy, fast to get you a drink, though sometimes a bit absent minded.

But the hard thing about a joint like this is that the food has to be at least as good as what you’d find on Dominion Road – it has to, to justify the price – and even better, it should twist the classics a little and surprise you. BBI does this in a few dishes – as with the fabulous Momofuku-style pork buns ($8) and a brilliantly deconstructed mar po tofu ($26) that uses shredded slow-cooked pork and delicate tofu and plenty of numbing spice. We love the cucumber pickle with smashed garlic ($6) – simple, but great. The twice-cooked crispy-skinned duck ($26) is addictive: tender duck, crispy, salty skin and a chilli-soy-ginger dressing – you smudge the skin into the sauce and get an explosion of salt and chilli. It is excellent, punchy – exactly what this restaurant should be doing.

Other things are less assured, or just inconvenient – we liked the paddle crab in chilli sauce, but we had to ask for a finger bowl, and while it’s a Chinese restaurant, we really do need a crab cracker. But the single fact is there is a bit much to eat that is disappointing here. Big, sandy tua tua in a weak sauce. Tasteless bang bang chicken; xiao long bao soup dumplings that fall apart and lose their soup; dry, chewy steamed greens with a gloopy slug of oyster sauce; boring blue cod with a ginger and black bean dressing and improperly cooked “fragrant” aubergines where the spice feels like an afterthought. As we say: it’s fun – just stick to the mar po tofu. SFG

HOURS Lunch, Tuesday to Sunday; dinner, seven days.

ADDRESS 146 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360 0303. bluebreezeinn.co.nz

IMPORTANT DETAILS You get an hour’s free parking in the Ponsonby Central carpark out the back.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Sichuan Pepper wrote:

    You hit the nail on the head – it has to be at least as good as Dominion Rd. And it’s just not. I had such high hopes, so it made me a bit sad :(

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  2. SFG wrote:

    Thanks SP – don’t get me wrong, a lot of the food is really good, so to me that’s what makes the other stuff disappointing. The kitchen can clearly turn out food that is interesting and balanced and punchy, but sometimes it doesn’t. It’s still new so hopefully they’ll improve things – I love everything else about it.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Kirsty wrote:

    Sorry, but I absolutely LOVE Blue Breeze Inn and have found service, most of the food and atmosphere consistently fantastic.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
  4. SFG wrote:

    Thanks Kirsty – good to know. As you can probably tell from the review, we have been multiple times, at different times of the week, and eaten our way through the menu. We’ve reported our experiences above. Thanks for the feedback.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
  5. EKY wrote:

    Hmm, I’ve always walked passed and admired the decor and atmosphere of the place (from the outside that is!). But coming from Chinese heritage, it got me thinking. I have always questioned the authenticity of people trying to putting a new spin on the old. It can be really good or disappointing.

    Cooking proper Chinese is no easy feat. What you find in a lot of Chinese restaurants they usually specialise in a few dishes or a style that’s unique to a region, and when you set outside of that, you start from scratch. And it usually takes years of practice doing one single dish to master is, eg Xiao Long Bao. I doubt there is a place in Auckland or in NZ can really replicate the real thing from Shanghai. In Shanghai, it’s pretty much a (make or break) dish that that encompasses the weight of a whole restaurant.

    Regardless, good on them for bringing Chinese to another target market and putting a new spin on things!

    Here’s an educational video on Soup Dumplings and Xiao Long Bao from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation in Shanghai, Skip to 3:00: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D860HdAPgCQ

    :)

    Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

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