Sorry for the lack of post, I have been hit hard with the stomach flu and was bedridden for a few days. My goodness, there is some serious bug going around Hong Kong and the stomach flu was not a pleasant one! Glad to say that I am on the mend, and looking forward to blogging and eating out again. I had the pleasure of dining at Neighrbourhood for my birthday. Now, the entrance is not on Hollywood Road as it says but it is actually at the back, on the little memorial garden for Sun Yat San. This place is extremely popular and has two sittings, one at 6.00pm and the other at 8.30pm. We were dining with Dragon, so had no problems with the 6pm sitting.
The restaurant was relatively quiet when we arrived but about 30 – 40 mins later it was quite full. The restaurant is quite small (maybe up to 25?) and I loved the minimalist décor with wooden, clothless tables. The menu was simple, nothing too descriptive but you get the jist.
Whilst perusing the menu, we started with some bread, which the waitress was more than happy to refill for us as we had one hungry Dragon eating all the bread. The bread was deliciously warm, and how I’ve missed good bread!
We started with the wagyu tartare / parmesan / truffle (HKD145) and oh my my, this was absolutely delicious. It was fresh, the parmesan and truffle really gave it that extra nice flavouring.
‘The Mother’ wanted to try the seasonal vegetables / anchovy (HKD125) – it didn’t look like much, I was actually quite surprised and thought what the? The vegetables were cold but it was the anchovy sauce that made it excellent. This was ‘The Mother’s’ favourite dish!
We thought we would order the baby zucchini risotto / zucchini blossom (HKD140) for Dragon and she loved it until she ate some pepper corn and claimed it was too ‘spicy’. We really loved the baby zucchini risotto, it was creamy and cooked to perfection.
The handmade tagliolini (HKD135) we really enjoyed, especially Dragon. It was so simple but yet so addictive!
The daily meat / roast (HKD155) was pork belly and no doubt we had to order it and this definitely DID NOT Disappoint!! The meat and fat ratio was perfect and the skin had a lovely crackle. The pork belly was served with some lentils, and carrots which was a wonderful complement.
For dessert, we thought we would share the chocolate palette (HKD70) – oh my my. Soft chocolate ganache with a thin layer of sweet chocolate cookie crust.
It was divinely rich, and we loved every mouthful of it!
The food was definitely excellent, and we enjoyed our meal. The waiter / waitress were great with Dragon and she definitely enjoyed herself. Will definitely be back to try their other dishes and have the chocolate palette again!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
61-63 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong (between Peel and Aberdeen Streets and entrance on Pak Tsz Lane Park behind Hollywood Road)
Ph: +852 2617 0891
So Part I was all about Lake Taupo, and Napier. Now the second part is about driving back from Napier to Auckland and stopping at Rotatua, spending a few days in Auckland and a few days in Bays of Island.
After Napier, we drove all the way to Auckland, it was about a 6 hour drive but we did stop in Roturua – we had originally going to stay overnight here but ‘The Mother’ decided against it and went straight to Napier. We sent to Polynesian Spa which I loved, however, Dragon, not so much! The water was WAY too hot for her and she said that it smelt like ‘poo poo’ LOL. We even got a private pool (only 30 mins) and we stayed at the Lake Spa for a bit. I would definitely have loved a massage, but ‘The Mother’ was eager to stop by a park (I can’t for the life remember the name) before Auckland. There were SO MUCH SPACE and GRASS!!!! LOVE!
Where we stayed: a 4 bedroom house (found on air bnb by ‘The Mother’s aunt) which was nice and spacious. Only problem was the walls were so thin, we could hear a pin drop!
What we did: nothing much, we had a wedding at Abbeville Estate – it was a beautiful place for a wedding and Dragon again wore her favourite and BEST outfit for the day!
What we ate – for breakfast we ate at home, and obviously a wonderful meal for the wedding and dim sum (yum cha) for the day after wedding. I did have a pretty good meal with one of my oldest and dearest friend in Auckland – Blue Breeze inn which serves a delicious Modern Chinese food.
Chef Che Barrington is the chef behind Blue Breeze Inn and in 2011, he opened MooChowChow, Auckland’s first modern Thai restaurant. There were so many options on the menu. We started with the steamed bun of roasted pork belly and pickled cucumber (NZD10 each) – that crackle, it was sublime and the bun itself was soft and pillowy which was excellent.
We also couldn’t go past the steamed bun of five-spiced tofu, kimchi, and coriander (NZD9 each) – I have to say, this was pretty good. I may have preferred this over the pork belly one and that says a lot!
The bang bang chili chicken with black vinegar, sesame-chilli dressing (NZD18) was ‘bang bang’. The chili really gave it a nice kick! It was a little spicy for Dragon unfortunately but she definitely enjoyed my pork belly more.
The beef unfortunately wasn’t as tender as I had hoped. It was a little on the tough side.
For dessert, we ordered a couple of things to share. Mango, tapioca and lemon sorbet was refreshingly light and was a great palate cleanser!
The taro dumplings were more on the heavier side but it’s not something I have eaten before. It was good but I definitely prefer the mango, tapioca and so did Dragon!
Service was good and food was pretty good, especially the pork buns, shame about the beef though, as I was craving beef!
Before we left Auckland we had a quick lunch at Toru Café which is located in Ponsoby – I am really loving that area. It’s a little like Paddington, if you live in Sydney.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the beef cheek, tomato, kasundi, carrot pie which was served with crinkle chips (NZD16.50) – oh how I fell in love with the crinkle chips! My my! It was crinkle potato chips, slightly fried, it was delicious. The pie itself wasn’t too bad either.
I couldn’t go past the spiced chicken, halloumi, cous cous, raisin, harissa, date (NZD22.50) – I love cous cous, and not to mention squeaky cheese! Unfortunately Dragon wasn’t a huge fan of cous cous, nor the squeaky cheese, she did however, eat all my chicken.
Service was polite and friendly, it’s a pretty cool little café, it was in the middle of a shopping arcade and was very relaxed. Food was good and everything on the menu sounded great! Those chips though – worth coming back for just a bowl of crinkle cut chips!
We were in Auckland for about 3 days, and then we drove up to Bays of Island. It was about a 2-3 hour drive, very scenic but lets be honest here, I spent most of it sleeping! Every opportunity I had, I was sleeping, I was SO TIRED and besides, cars and I – sleep! Who doesn’t? Come on?
Where we stayed: Waterfront Suite Paihia – Herritage Boutique Collection, 100 Marsden Road, Paihia, Bay of Islands, Paihia, New Zealand. We got the 2 bedroom apartments – don’t ask why but we definitely enjoyed the space! LOTS OF SPACE! And had a view of the ocean, which was beautiful!
What we did: if it was summer or if Dragon was a little older, we could have gone swimming with the dolphins, go kayaking etc. But alas, our little Dragon is still 2.5 years old. We hung around town, there was a lovely grass area, and a piano where Dragon could not stop playing! I believe she has musical blood in her, just like her mama!
What we ate:
We arrived early afternoon, and thought we would have an early dinner at Alongside which is situated over the water in the stunning bay of islands. It’s a very laid back place, very casual, we sat there drinking and eating whilst watching the sunset. It was a tad cold but it was still quite pleasant.
I couldn’t go past the braised beef croquette – 4 generous size croquette with lots and lots of beef. The outside was slightly burnt but the inside, my my my… it was absolutely amazing!
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the soft shell fish tacos with our local catch, apple and mango salsa. He demolished this before I could even take a photo of it.
We also ordered a side of chunky street fries with rosemary salt and smoked aioli – they were demolished by the three of us! So good!
They even had a kids menu for Dragon. Not pictured but for NZD10 – a bowl of Bolognese pasta and juice. She loves pasta so had no problems demolishing it.
It is really a nice way to spend the afternoon / evening. I can envisage many Sunday lazy afternoons sitting here, drinking and catching up with friends. It was really a very nice and pleasant area.
The next morning we had breakfast at Upper Deck, which was next door to our apartment. I ordered the big breakfast to share with Dragon – 2 fried eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom and hash browns which was served with some brown toast. Pretty large serving, Dragon isn’t really a toast kind of girl for breakfast, she usually eats rice and leftovers for dinner. She loved the sausage and mushroom though, the toast she thought was a little hard.
‘The Mother’ had something more simple – he was a little over big breakfasts (HOW COULD HE?) and opt for muesli, yogurt and fruit which was surprisingly good! Fresh fruit and the yogurt was surprisingly good!
We had dinner at one of the local pizza place near our apartments. The pizza wasn’t too bad, very big but it was for four of us. We ordered two of it and managed to finish it all!
Overall, it was a great trip I love New Zealand, it’s such a beautiful place. However, the driving – the driving with Dragon almost killed me! Never again I think. We did have a good time, and would be keen to go to the South Island at some point.
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
146 Ponsoby Road
Auckland, New Zealand, 1011
Ph: +64 9 360 0303
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
16 – 138 Ponsoby Road
Auckland, New Zealand, 1011
Ph: +64 9 555 1229
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
69 Marsden Road,
Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Ph: +64 9 402 6220
GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
76 Marsden Road
Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Ph: +64 9402 8147
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!
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!
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.
‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the hot chocolate
With a large dollop of chocolate which I couldn’t help but eat on its own! YUM!
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.
‘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.
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.
We went inside and had some afternoon tea, scones and tea and some bread for Dragon at the Ruapehu Lounge Bar.
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?
And we got some bread with dips for Dragon
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
‘The Mother’ opt for the fresh market fish with some saffron pasta which he utterly enjoyed.
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.
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.
‘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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
The pork, fennel and lemon meatballs, hummus and tzatziki (NZD16) was good but I still preferred the polenta.
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
The garlic focaccia which Dragon demolished!
‘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.
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.
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’.
We started with some fresh bread which was hot and fresh – yum!
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!
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!
‘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.
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!
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!
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
Chateau Tongariro Hotel – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
State Highway 48, Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 7892 3809
Plateau Restaurant & Bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
64 Tuwharetoa Street Taupo Town Centre, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 7377 2425
Replete Café and store – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
45 Heu Heu St Taupo, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 7377 3011
Emporium eatery and bar – GA’s ratings: 7 / 10
Cnr of Tennyson Street & Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand
Tlp: +64 6835 0013
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