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Aside from its very splendid name, Uncle Man is a bit of a find. It’s on Karangahape Road, in a very lovely high-ceilinged space that used to be a comic-book shop, only now they have posters from Malaysia all over the walls and lovely big dark wooden tables. It can get very noisy.

Don’t be nervous about the menu, which is a jaunty blue and yellow, with helpful pictures – for some reason they also feature Chinese and European food (spaghetti bolognese, anyone?), which we’ve never bothered with. You’re here for Malaysian and in particular, you are here for roti, which they make to order, and which are flaky and delicate – the dessert roti, a tall cone of delicate, tissue-like roti, is a thing of beauty.

There is an entirely excellent roti canai curry chicken ($11) as well, not to mention the beef rendang ($13.50). We’ve also eaten mee rebus ($11.50), which is egg noodles in a sweet-potato gravy, which verges on too sweet in the Malaysian way, but is saved by the spice and the peanuts. You must also consider, one day, coming for breakfast and ordering kaya toast ($5): sweet creamy coconut jam on soft white-trash bread with soft boiled eggs and sweet soy sauce. Wash it down with a sweet Malaysian kopi: it’s hard to feel there is much wrong with the world with a breakfast like this. SFG

HOURS Breakfast, lunch and dinner, 10.30am to 9.30pm.

ADDRESS 277 Karangahape Road, Newton, ph 377-1799.

IMPORTANT DETAILS The kaya toast is great. Honest.




Photographs: David Straight

The Black Hoof is up a flight of stairs in a lovely bricky space on Wyndham Street, which is one of those streets we’ve long wanted something to open on: it used to be a Korean restaurant. It’s simple inside: owners Will Thorpe and Logan Coathe – who used to work together at Casita Miro on Waiheke Island – did the place on the smallest of budgets.

It is warm, and friendly, and there is good beer on tap and other beers in the fridge, and a particularly interesting list of red wine that has some strange and inventive Spanish wines. And there is food – a simple menu of comidas that changes often: small shared plates. Serrano ham ($18); fabulous cheeses with torta and quince; pixtos properly done so they’re just little bits of bread you once would have put over the top of your glass ($5). There are great vegetable dishes – we had roasted cauliflower with almonds on one visit, and roasted beetroot with goat’s cheese the next – and we once ate a particularly excellent dish of calamari and chorizo. Don’t miss the seafoody rice dishes – arroz with clams and chorizo and saffron, say.

There are bigger plates – a slow-cooked lamb shoulder ($29) – and they’re beautifully cooked too. It is simple, rustic food and it is designed to be shared between you while you solve the world’s problems over another glass of wine. We like that very much.

HOURS Tuesday to Friday, 12pm to 10pm; Saturday 5pm to 10pm

ADDRESS 12 Wyndham Street, City, ph 366 1271.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Amazingly, they take bookings.



We’re really quite excited to announce our first supper club for the year, in conjunction Cafe Hanoi. It’s a home-style Vietnamese feast, using recipes from Hanoi’s own chefs – these are family recipes that have been passed down through grandmothers and mothers, the kind of thing you don’t normally see in a restaurant and certainly not in New Zealand.

It’s going to be a lovely evening – we’ll start across the road for a cocktail at Zuzu at 6.45, then move to Hanoi’s downstairs Parlour, where we’ll be hosted by head chef Jason von Dorsten for a casual multi-course family feast with matching wine.

Since we can only seat about 20 at a time, we’re holding this over two nights – February 25 and March 4. Tickets are incredibly limited, so don’t mess about.




Photographs: David Straight

In case you missed it, we collaborated with Matt Nash to produce a market bag last year, just in time for Christmas. They were incredibly popular and sold out well before Christmas. Lucky for you, we’ve got more on the way and they’re available for pre-order from now – get your orders in for this round by Friday January 16 and we’ll deliver by Tuesday 27 January.

To recap: these bags are made by hand here in Auckland from heavy-duty canvas, with handles made from heavyweight webbed cotton, securely sewn for heavy loads. There’s a handy pouch for your wallet and phone in the front, a canvas loop for your keys and a pouch for a wine bottle, so the bag transitions to picnic bag with ease. And – get this – it’s lined with nylon with to contain hummus spills and muddy potatoes.

After a summer of fairly intense use, we’re thrilled to report ours is bearing up well – the idea with these bags is they look good now, but they’ll also weather with age and use over time. The leather will develop a patina, the screenprint will scuff a little, though it won’t lose any of its strength or practicality. Got a special request? Send us an email and we’ll see if we can oblige.




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.