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image image imageimage imagePhotographs: David Straight

Mark our words: you’re going to see more like this. Chinoiserie occupies a narrow shopfront in a very ordinary part of Mt Albert; it’s owned by good people behind the throughly successful cafe L’Oeuf next door, which does inventive things with eggs. The fitout is beautiful: a punk sort of take on a Chinese opium den, in a space that we suspect used to be a takeout bar. Cue a very beautiful mural, plywood tables, industrial stools, drinks in jars.

In essence, Chinoiserie is a local bar that serves really good food. You order at the counter – we’re not convinced by this, but it does add to the casualness of the place – and there’s a short menu which is mostly dominated by gua bao ($8), which are a Tawanese take on a burger, served in a pillowy white bun. They’re excellent, especially the pork belly and the chicken; there are also fries with wasabi mayo ($6) and sticky chicken wings ($12) and sichuan-pepper peanuts ($8), which are nothing short of brilliant. Desserts are brilliant: you must have the doughnuts wih chocolate sauce and coconut thread ($8), sticky and coconutty.

All of which is fine by us. You can get a beer (There is Panhead by the bottle, though we think having Tiger on tap is a bit sad) or a very fine cocktail and a bao, and then if this was your local you could wander home without worrying about the pesky new drinking laws. It’s the kind of thing Auckland needs one of in every suburban shopping strip. SFG

HOURS Monday to Saturday, 4pm until midnight.

ADDRESS 4 Owairaka Avenue, Mt Albert.

IMPORTANT DETAILS No bookings. Don’t forget to order at the bar.

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