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Photographs: David Straight

There on that little windswept bit of K Road just up from Mercury Lane, where there is Family Bar on one side and Calendar Girls on the other and plenty of karaoke, you’ll find Apero. It’s the first restaurant of Leslie Hottiaux and Mo Koski, who used to work for the likes of Sidart. She cooks; he runs the floor. It’s simple, with brick walls and timber tables. It’s a wine bar, with really bloody good food and great service.

Here’s a trick: order a bottle of red wine, a good one, and then just ask Mo to feed you: it will be exactly the right amount and you won’t spend too much. Recently, we ate a burrata with heirloom tomatoes and basil ($16) which was magnificent – simple, but magnificent – and a fabulous chunky terrine ($18). We ate goat’s cheese croquettes ($8) that served to define what goat’s cheese croquettes should be – a perfect chevre, panko crumbs, thyme honey. There was a trevally cerviche ($15) made with tiny little pieces of avocado and pomegranate that was one of the most elegant things we’ve eaten this year.

And there was sausage: Hottiaux is French, and she makes the entire thing herself before getting the meat put in the casings at Neat Meat. You can order it by the quarter metre and it comes on a wooden board with mustard and little else, and it is beautiful – chunky as all hell and full of flavour. I want to buy some for home. SFG

HOURS Open Wednesday to Monday from 4; lunch on Fridays.

ADDRESS 280 Karangahape Road, ph 373-4778.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Home-made sausage. This is all you need to know.



Photographs: David Straight

Even food reviewers get it wrong sometimes. I’ve been driving down Mokoia Road for the better part of three years now, yet for some reason I’d always written off Malaysia Recipes It’s in a strip mall just up from the gas station, opposite the Domino’s. Such inauspicious surroundings: such an obvious place to find good food.

As it turns out: Malaysia Recipes is great. There are a few tables and the obligatory posters of Malaysia, and free tea. Drop by on a weekday and it’s full of Malaysian tradesmen slurping sweet Malaysian coffee and wolfing down big plates of noodles. The menu is confusing: they offer fish and chips and fried rice for some reason, and not all the dishes are good – avoid the sambal chicken ($18), for instance.

Stick with the classics and it’s brolliant: I am in love with their “Penang fried kuay teow” ($10 for lunch, $13.90 for dinner), which comes with noodles that are beautifully blackened, and plenty of heat – just as a Malaysian tiler would have it. SFG

HOURS Lunch 11am to 3pm, dinner 5pm to 9pm. Closed Tuesdays.

ADDRESS 174 Mokoia Road, Birkenhead, ph 481 1123.

IMPORTANT DETAILS They do bak kut teh on the weekends – a bone broth of spices and herbs; you don’t often see this so do check it out.



You might have heard that our friends at Orphans Kitchen were so busy running a restaurant that they neglected to renew their booze licence, so for the next few weeks they can only do ticketed events. Which is very unfortunate for them, but we thought it was a wonderful chance to stage a bit of a sit-in at Orphans this Saturday.

Chef Tom Hishon has come up with a terrific menu – it’s a five-course autumnal feast, classically thoughtful Orphans food: starting with Bluff oysters and proceeding past their legendary bread to red deer tartare, pork hock and then on to cheese. All this is a very reasonable $85, with a cash bar on the night.

There are two seatings, one at 6.30pm and one at 8.30pm* – choose which option you’d like on the PayPal link below. Hope to see you there!

6.30 or 8.30pm
Saturday March 28
Orphans Kitchen
118 Ponsonby Road

*Please note this has changed from the previously advised sitting of 9pm.



Photographs: David Straight

Over two nights – February 25 and March 4 – we held a supper club downstairs at Cafe Hanoi’s parlour. It was a home-style feast: lots of shared plates and some dishes you might not associate with Vietnamese cooking. Personal favourite: the caramelised hotpot of mullet with galangal – we’ve heard rumours it might wind up on the menu upstairs. Thank you to Cafe Hanoi and thank you to everyone who came along. We’re looking forward to the next event already!



Photographs: David Straight 

Remember Two Monkeys? Just in case: a glass box with a blue-painted steel frame, dirty floors, formica tables, ordinary food. Last year, brothers Simon and John Yip (their mum is Vietnamese) took over the space, painted it white, polished the concrete floor and installed timber tables, metal chairs and industrial drop pendants. It is at once warm and simple and a little bit genius: home-style food, hip hop on the stereo, cute environs and – one day, soon we hope – a booze licence.

It got a flurry of reviews when it opened in October – but for us, the menu didn’t quite hold together; too many dishes were similar, even though the menu was designed to be shared. But there were some particularly excellent grilled chicken skewers ($14) and beautiful pork rice paper rolls ($12), their skin bubbled and crunchy, and there was a dish of pork belly with a tamarind and ginger sauce ($19), at once sticky and sweet and sour. We loved a roasted duck leg with a tangelo salad and taro crisps ($20), and everything came with plenty of herbs. But we also had a pho ($15) without enough beef in it one lunchtime, and a dish of skate wings with dill, turmeric and vermicelli ($19) that verged on bland.

The other day, we went in for an early lunch of pho, and a cold-press coffee with coconut milk and palm sugar, an interpretation of café suda, iced coffee, which in Vietnam comes with a slug of coconut milk but which here had a gentler flavour and a less sticky texture. The pho, equally, was brilliant: a generous serving of beef with a beautiful deep stock and a mountain of herbs. Service was good. The stereo was up. In short: the city needs about 20 joints like this. SFG

HOURS Lunch and dinner, 12pm to 3pm

ADDRESS 191 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, ph 638-6403.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Not yet licensed – we can’t wait.