Sunday, December 5, 2010

BBQ Duck Cafe, Auckland (New Zealand) by Big Fil

Given the booming Asian population in Auckland we were keen to find out the affect on the local restaurant scene. What I'd heard from other regular visitors wasn't promising, and what we saw in the rest of the north island was kind of bizarre - you can only see so many places selling fish and chips, hamburgers and Chinese food before it starts to get to you. Before we left we picked out a couple of places to try, one Malaysian and one Cantonese. When we got there one was full and the threat of rain meant it was too far to walk to the other so we chose a random Hong Kong style café we saw along the way, BBQ Duck Café.

Two things immediately stood out when we entered the café. The first was the really cute cups and saucers, giving it a look different to the normal run of the mill student oriented place.

Secondly, while the café was only one third full (bad), we were the only non-Asian customers (promising).

Both Hungry Pete and myself are big fans of beef brisket. Done well this is a great dish with super tender beef, melt in the mouth tendon and rich meaty gravy/sauce to eat with the rice. Done poorly it can be a tough, fatty mess. And the one at BBQ Duck? Somewhere in between, with the beef tender but not as much as it could have been, little or no tendon and the sauce a little runny.

A little better were the spicy pork ribs. These were nicely spicy and tasty without being hot. They'd been a little bit over-fried though, not to the extent of going dry but rendering on the chewy side.

Given our first visit had been acceptable and we were in the area on the night before leaving New Zealand we made a return journey to BBQ Duck. The first dish we ordered was the stir fried beef with cumin, a dish I really like. This wasn't on the main menu but one of the specials on the wall (served with soup and rice for $12.80) and we ordered it as a main. Somewhat disappointingly it was light on the cumin. It could also have used some Sichuan pepper to spice it up. A bare pass and not quite what I was hoping for.

The second dish we went for was the crispy pork with tofu hot pot. Nice and very generous amounts of crispy pork with tofu and mushrooms. As with the beef with cumin it could have used being introduced to the spices a bit more, but a perfectly acceptable hot pot.

Reasonable food, reasonable setting, reasonable service at reasonable prices. Looking a lot more authentic than most Chinese eateries were saw, at home it's the sort of place you'd expect to be packed out by students looking for a value for money feed. If it was my local or near work I can imagine it being a regular haunt. And the complementary bowl of soup to start was appreciated. Something consistent in the Asian eateries we visited was flavours on the muted side, like they'd been turned down to suit local tastes. We didn't try enough places to be sure, but it's possible food in in this part of New Zealand is going through a transition phase. Outside Auckland almost all we saw was Westernised sweet and sour and chow mien, and softening the flavours might be a way of introducing customers to more authentic (and unfamiliar) Chinese cuisine.

304 Queen Street
Auckland City
Tel:(09) 309 8588

1 comment:

Bureaucrat said...

i totally agree with the overview of food in NZ. It's a shame, because it's such a wonderful, natural place that you'd think the food would be equally wonderful.

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