Photographs: David Straight
When the Blue Breeze Inn opened a couple of years back, we had mixed feelings. We loved the fitout, that glorious rococo combination of shipwreck and Balinese resort. More than anything, we loved the service and the idea of the place: Auckland has a lot of very good Chinese food, but most of it is to be found in less than inspiring spaces and for a long time, we’d been banging on about how someone – someone! – should do a restaurant with good service and decent booze and a nice fitout. And then they did.
But on those first few visits – six to be precise– the food just didn’t always stack up, which was a bit frustrating. We won’t relitigate that, but we’re very happy to say that they’ve resolved most of those issues. In short, Blue Breeze Inn is a delight: you can go for dumplings on a weekday or for a dimly lit dinner on Friday or lunch with the family on Sundays. The service is great and the music is good and there is a good wine list. The seats down the Brown Street side are lovely in the early evening as the sun goes down.
The bao are still amazing; recently we ate a fantastic dish of braised beef shin with mushrooms, slowly cooked, falling apart, served with a sticky-sweet-fragrant stock and topped with mint. We’ve also had the fish, cooked in shaoxing wine and ginger and chilli oil: it’s delicate, beautifully balanced. The dumplings are mostly excellent: they still haven’t mastered the xiao long bao but the prawn har gau are truly magnificent. On Sundays, they do roast duck: you really should go and eat this soon. Because Blue Breeze is turning into a classic, in the way that really good buzzy restaurants do when the shine wears off and they have to work a bit harder, and you suddenly realise that this joint is fucking great. SFG
HOURS Open 12pm until late, seven days.
ADDRESS 146 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360 0303.
IMPORTANT DETAILS If you get seated on one of the banquettes, you might like to fold the back cushion over and sit on it. They’ve sunk a bit in two years, which leaves you feeling like a midget.