North Island, New Zealand Part 1

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and to lots more eating in 2015 – I certainly know there will be a lot of it happening! It’s been a while since I last blogged, we had a nice 2 weeks break, just hanging in Hong Kong. New resolution this year is to blog a little more, not nearly as much as pre-Dragon but definitely a little more than post-Dragon! Below is a family photo from our trip in New Zealand which I absolutely love!

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It seems like forever since our last trip to New Zealand (have yet to blog about Kaoshiung, and not to mention some eateries from Helsinki and Prague!), we were there just over a week. I have previously been to New Zealand, South Island to be exact – Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound and had a wonderful time. We did the awesome foursome which includes bungee jumping, white water rafting, canoeing and shotover jet. This time though, we were in the North Island, for a wedding in Auckland and thought we would check out the nearby towns. We stayed a couple of nights in Taupo, then Napier (my favourite!), Auckland and then Bay of Islands.

We arrived quite late to Auckland and ‘The Mother’ drove straight away to Lake Taupo, so by the time we got there it was quiet late, bed time for Dragon and we didn’t do much. We had something quick to eat on the way which I can’t even remember, either Mc Donalds or KFC!

Where we stayed: Hilton Lake Taupo, 80 – 100 Napier Road Taupo and we got the suite. It was very spacious, separate bedroom and living room. It was a shame we were there in Winter, would have loved to have gone swimming. The water was warm, but outside was freezing!

What we did: We had lunch and dinner at Lake Taupo town. We took photos in front of the lake and it was beautiful. Even our little photographer couldn’t wait to take photos of us and order us around!

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What we ate: We had breakfast twice at Dixie Browns, which was located on the shores of Lake Taupo. It has one of the largest fresh water lakes in the South Hemisphere and there was also the view of Mt Ruapehue, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the hot chocolate

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With a large dollop of chocolate which I couldn’t help but eat on its own! YUM!

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I opt for the kiwi farmhouse breakfast (NZ19.90) – fried eggs, Kransky sausage, mushroom, hash browns, smokey bacon and grilled tomato served with hot buttered toast. It was a pretty large serving (bacon and tomato not on the same plate) and pretty decent.

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‘The Mother’ opt for a sweeter breakfast, truck stop pancake stack (NZD15.90) – blueberry pancake stack drizzled with maple syrup and cream. Oh my, it was good but sickly sweet in my opinion especially with hot chocolate, but ‘The Mother’ seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Service at the Dixie Browns was excellent and food was good, that we came again the next day to try out their lunch menu!

After brunch, we took a quick drive to Chateau Tongariro Hotel – it’s a BEAUTIFUL Chateau, ‘The Mother’ originally wanted to stay here, but I was against moving every single night as it wouldn’t be too relaxing.

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We went inside and had some afternoon tea, scones and tea and some bread for Dragon at the Ruapehu Lounge Bar.

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The scones were beautiful, I have missed good scones, I have tasted some horrid ones here in Hong Kong, guess I can just make my own?

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And we got some bread with dips for Dragon

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We went for a drive to the top of the mountain, and the views were spectacular. I love how there were still snow which was amazing and yes it was STILL VERY COLD!!!!

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For dinner, we ate at Taupo town centre, Plateau Restaurant & Bar. There was even a kids menu which was awesome – drink, food and dessert for NZD15! Dragon opt for the meatballs, tomato sauce with steamed rice (weird combo I thought but she seemed to have enjoyed it). And she of course enjoyed her ice cream sundae which we took some also.

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I was a tad greedy and ordered the 2 things – the crispy fried chicken with chipotle mayo (NZD12.50) – it was a little bigger than I anticipated. I was expecting drumsticks and wings, however, it was chicken breast fried, which was a little disappointing.

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The steamed pork bun, braised pork, coriander, hoisin sauce (NZD9.0) was a little dry, I liked the steamed bun but the braised pork was a little on the dry side which was a shame.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the fresh market fish with some saffron pasta which he utterly enjoyed.

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The next morning, we had brunch at Replete Café and store which was also located in the town centre.  It was a relatively busy when we rocked up,  you pay at the counter and food will be delivered to your table. I absolutely LOVED the banana smoothie – very creamy and had a pretty strong banana taste which I liked.

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For breakfast, I opt for the field mushrooms on megagrain farmhouse toast with sausage (NZD16.00). Dragon ate most of the sausage, as I was happy to just have the mushroom.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the complete Replete breakfast (NZD17.50) – eggs, chargrilled bacon, roasted field mushrooms, grilled focaccia and tomato relish. I stole some bacon but he pretty much demolished this on his own.

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We left for Napier just after lunch and arrived at about 4.30pm. Now have I mentioned how much I LOVE NAPIER? From memory it was about 4 hours drive from Lake Taupo. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Napier. It’s located in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island.

Where we stayed: Art Deco Masonic Hotel, 2 Tennyson Street, Napier South, Napier 4110, New Zealand. It was a very ‘cool’ and funky hotel. There’s a pub downstairs and we got the pacific suite, again separate living and bedroom and overlooking the ocean – it was indeed beautiful!

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What we did: We arrived early afternoon, and we walked along the Marine Parade, again taking photos. This time jump shots which Dragon absolutely loved!

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We also went to the National Aquarium, it’s not a big aquarium but worth visiting, especially since it was raining. Dragon found this ride and didn’t want to leave! We walked around town, I wanted to do a bit of shopping but ran out of time. Definitely worth staying at Napier a bit longer. We also went for a drive, about 1 hour drive to a mountain, it was so windy that Dragon couldn’t stop laughing- she loves the cold weather! There were some jump shots also!

We had breakfast at the hotel both days as it came with the package, nothing too fancy but it was pretty good – eggs, bacon, toast, pastries, cereals and fruits.

For dinner on the first night, we ate at Emporium eatery and bar which is located at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel.

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We shared a couple of things, including a pizza – roast chicken, chorizo, brie, pesto mayo and rocket which Dragon thoroughly enjoyed. The crust was thin and there was a generous serving of chicken and chorizo.

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I loved the fried polenta, cauliflower puree, smoked tomato salsa and parmesan (NZD15) – ‘The Mother’ wasn’t a huge fan of polenta, which meant more for me!

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The pork, fennel and lemon meatballs, hummus and tzatziki (NZD16) was good but I still preferred the polenta.

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We were too full for dessert, and it was almost Dragon’s nap time, so we waddled upstairs and had a wonderful sleep!

The next day, we had lunch at Salt, which is also known as the ‘round house’, a Napier icon. It has a lovely view of the inner harbor of Ahuriri and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch we had the lunch menu which was a great deal! I think for NZD20, you get soup or salad or garlic bread and a choice of main.

We had the cream of mushroom, which was deliciously creamy

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The garlic focaccia which Dragon demolished!

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‘The Mother’ opt for the steak, which was served with herb butter and chips! The steak wasn’t too bad for the price, and cooked just the way he likes it.

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I opt for the chicken and mango filo pastry with a side of salad. It was ok, the filing was quite rich, it was a little too creamy for my liking.

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Service was good, and pretty decent value. Pity my chicken filo pastry was a little on the rich side. There were a lot of seafood on the menu if you preferred (which is also their specialty!).

For dinner, we made reservations with Mister D and I have to say, it is one of the best food I have eaten in a while! Mister D is ‘a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, we believe in fresh, local produce delivered with great service but no fuss’.

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We started with some fresh bread which was hot and fresh – yum!

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The waiter suggested the potato gnocchi, cheese sauce and coffee (but without the coffee) (NZD13) for Dragon. It was a very cool presentation, gnocchi served on a stick, which creamy and cheesy sauce. Unfortunately Dragon didn’t take a liking to the gnocchi or cheese sauce – I should have known. She is not a big fan of potatoes and she hates cheesy food, cheese on its own she loves, but cheese on food, not so much!

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I couldn’t go past the bone marrow ravioli, beef juices, salsa verde (NZD24.50) – OMG! THE BEST! Even Dragon ate half of it (maybe more). The ravioli with bone marrow was just superb, tender and delivious and the beef juice – my my. I could have definitely eaten a second serving on my own!

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‘The Mother’ opt for fist in a bag, new potatoes, asparagus, Telegraph Hill smoked olives parlsey butter (NZD29.50) – it was quite a novelty. The fish was incredibly tender and ‘The Mother’ definitely enjoyed it.

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For dessert, we shared the ginger beer crème caramel, poached rhubarb and gingerbread (NZD15). Dragon ate most of the gingerbread on her own, she wasn’t a huge fan of the crème caramel but it’s probably due to texture. ‘The Mother’ and I fought for every single last piece – it was delicious!

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I really enjoyed my meal at Mister D and wished we came back the next day for breakfast! I heard the donut was too die for and always runs out!!!! Definitely worth going if you are in Napier, service and food was excellent!

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Next… Auckland and Bays of Islands

Dixie Browns – GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

38 Roberts St, Taupo 3330, New Zealand

Tlp:+64 7-378 8444

Dixie Browns on Urbanspoon

Chateau  Tongariro Hotel – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

State Highway 48, Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7892 3809

Ruapehu Restaurant Chateau Tongariro on Urbanspoon

Plateau Restaurant & Bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

64 Tuwharetoa Street Taupo Town Centre, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7377 2425

Plateau Restaurant & Bar, Taupo on Urbanspoon

Replete Café and store – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

45 Heu Heu St Taupo, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 7377 3011

Replete Cafe on Urbanspoon

Emporium eatery and bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Cnr of Tennyson Street & Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6835 0013

Emporium Eatery & Bar on Urbanspoon

Salt – GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

10 West Quay Ahuriri, Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6833 6035

Mister D – GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

47 Tennyson Street Napier South, New Zealand

Tlp: +64 6835 5022

Mister D on Urbanspoon

Oddies Foodies, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Firstly, Merry Christmas! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family, friends and your loved ones. Hope Santa was very kind to all of you!

I have seen photos of this wonderful dessert on instagram that I had to give it ago.

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It took a while, but finally made it and it did not disappoint. Oddies can be found in Wan Chai, just off Wan Chai Road. The shop itself was pretty small, no sitting area and you could probably fit about 3 people in there.\

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They offer either a normal cone with their signature 2 flavours (dark chocolate / original) or a mix or you can go something more elaborate (and expensive) option which includes night wolf, dr.oddie or mont blanc or just fusion eggettes.

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We opt for the night wolf (HKD49) – italian low fat soft gelato twisted with 66% dark chocolate served with buttery crumbles, caramelised banana ice cream, passion fruit panna cotta, brownie and chocolate chips eggettes and crunchy flakes. ohhh eeemmm geeeeee. My goodness – this was definitely for two people, I doubt I could finish it on my own. The brownie and chocolate chips eggettes were too die for, it was served warm and absolutely fantastic. The mix soft gelato of vanilla and dark chocolate was a little on the rich side but it was good. Everything worked, including the caramelised banana, and passion fruit panna cotta.

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Dragon and I shared the mix – milk and dark chocolate, large cone (HKD27) and it was good. Again i thought the chocolate itself was on the rich side, but the blend of both was seriously tasty.

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Great dessert place, pity there’s nowhere to sit but we managed to find a park where we could sit and eat our ice cream. It was seriously good and definitely worth going back to try their other desserts!

GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

Oddies Foodies

Shop 1F, G/F, 149 Wan Chai Road,

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 9155 5185

Mott 32, Central, Hong Kong

Mott 32, part of the Maximal Concepts Group which can be located in the basement of Standard Chartered Bank. The restaurant is quite spacious and the name is after New York’s first Chinese convenience store, which is on 32 Mott Street opened in 1851. I was rather impressed by the bold spiral staircase and the semi-open kitchen inside and the space! I haven’t really seen such a spacious restaurant in Hong Kong, well not as spacious as this anyways.

The menu includes traditional Cantonese, Sichuan, and Beijing dishes. We were here for lunch, which meant dim sum but you can also order from the dinner menu which looked absolutely fantastic and will bring ‘The Mother’ for dinner! It’s always hard having dim sum with just two people, you can never order that many food. However, what we had was tasty and definitely keen to come back for more!

We started with wild mushroom, water chestnut dumplings. These babies were fantastic, the pastry was silky smooth and you can’t go wrong with wild mushroom and water chestnut

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I couldn’t go past the kurobuta pork, soft quail egg, black truffle siu mai. These babies were incredible! Inside was a soft quail egg, and it was just amazing!

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I really wanted the signature crispy bbq pork bun but considering we were ordering the bbq pork cheung fun, we thought we would go for the Australian Wagyu beef puff. These were good but I think the crispy bbq pork would have been a winner for me!

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The honey glazed bq spanish teruel pork cheung fun was good. The bbq pork delicious and the cheung fun itself was so silky smooth.

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Last but not least, the pan fried turnip cake, dried scallops, prawns, dong guan sausage (which I forgot to take a photo off). Probably one of the best turnip cakes I have eaten (and at a price higher than norm!).

Service was excellent, and food was good I thought. I was rather disappointed that I didn’t get the char siu but this is definitely a reason to come back and try the dinner menu, hopefully with more people so that we can eat more food.

*apologies for the dark photos, forgot my camera and only had my iphone. The place was rather dark unfortunately :(*

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Mott 32

4-4a Des Voeux Road,

Central, Hong Kong.

Ph: +852 2885 8688

Bowery Lane, Sydney

I have heard so many good things about Bowery Lane, especially about the burger and the lamb ribs. I first came here for lunch with an ex-colleauge, and then back again with my brother for lunch. Bowery Lane can be found on O’Connell Street, and serves diners breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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I love the cute 2 seater booth, the open kitchen. The restaurant was a lot bigger than I thought, we walked around and was pleasantly surprised at how big the venue that was! The menu is quite vast, and everything sounded delicious.

I opt for the pork cotoletta with slaw, garlic aioli, lemon and sea salt (AUD27) – it was one of the biggest schnitzel I have ever had, it was bigger than my head! The flavours were great, but I thought this was a little dry, even with the garlic aioli. It was ok but not fantastic, thought my mum’s schnitzel was infinitely better!

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My ex colleague had the sherry marinated globe artichokes, ancient grains heirloom carrots, goats curd and beets (AUD25). It was quite a pretty dish and apparently very tasty! However, he expected the artichokes to be clean, so easy to eat, however, he had to peel the skin off himself which he thought was a little troublesome.

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We also had the baby cos – peas, beans and mint (AUD14) which was very fresh, light and refreshing.

On my second visit, I came with my bro, F, for lunch. We shared the braised wagyu short rib, horseradish cream and roasted garlic (AUD58) and my goodness, this was superb! the beef was melt-in-you-mouth tender with the right amount of fat! THe horseradish cream was a wonderful complement, and oh my my, even though it was a huge serving, we both managed to finish it! It was seriously tasty!

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We also had a serve of fries with chili salt aioli (AUD7) and it was delicious!

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Service was great, and food was fantastic! I was a little disappointed with the pork cotoletta but the wagyu beef short rib definitely made up for it! We saw other diners having the burger and it looked fantastic, so will definitely try that next time we are back.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Bowery Lane

1 O’Connell Street

Sydney, 2000

Ph: +61 2 9252 8017

Bowery Lane on Urbanspoon

Burger Project, Sydney

There’s been a lot of hype about this burger joint Burger Project, I was also invited to opening night, unfortunately I was in Hong Kong and wasn’t going to fly down for it! I did manage to eat here on my last visit, my brother F, has been a couple of times and was raving about it! Now, I have had heard mix reviews about this place, so didn’t really have high expectations, especially since I have eaten Neil Perry’s burger at Rockpool Bar and Grill.

Burger Project is the new project by Neil Berry, Trish Richards and David Doyle – the people behind the Rockpool Group. Open for lunch and dinner, Burger Project can be found in World Square, next to Din Tai Fung – the restaurant was bigger than expected. We arrived on Sunday at 1.30pm and the place was buzzing, but thankfully we found a seat outside. There’s no table service, you order at the counter, get a device that buzzes and when once your order is ready, the device will buzz and you pick up your food at the counter.

My brother F insisted that we order the spicy pork belly (AUD9.90) – crispy free range pork belly, salted chilli, pickles, pickled slaw and lettuce and WOW! It did not disappoint. Generous pieces of pork belly and crackle, the pickled slaw was a wonderful complement. The bun was surprisingly not bad. We really enjoyed this.

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I wanted to try the burger in a bowl, same price with no buns but extra lettuce. I opt for the spicy pork belly and it did not disappoint. the salted chili and slaw was seriously good!

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F also ordered the double (AUD12.90) – 2x grass fed beef, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce. (not the best picture below) – it was better than I had anticipated (considering i had very low expectations!), the beef was tender, and who can say no to cheese and pickles in a burger? the bun was better than I anticipated but definitely not the best.

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We also ordered the a crispy hot wing (AUD3.50 each) for Dragon, it wasn’t the best chicken wing i’ve had but Dragon seemed to have enjoyed it. We also had the house made chips thrice cooked (AUD4.90) – again not the best I thought, it was cooked to a crisp! Double cooked probably would have sufficed!

Overall I really enjoyed the spicy pork belly, but the beef burger itself I thought was ok. seriously, for me, nothing beats Dan Hong’s burger – that is still my favourite burger ever! We waited 30 minutes for our food, for a hungry child that’s a very long time. Would i go back again? maybe for the spicy pork belly, I know my parents have!

GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10

Burger Project

World Square Shopping Centre, Shop 1106
644 George Street
Central, Sydney 2000

Burger Project on Urbanspoon

Categories: Burgers, Sydney Tags: , ,