Il Mee

Good ol’ Korean food. Il Mee is located in Upper Queen St, where the other Korean restaurants are. For the guys, it’s the row of shops opposite the White House. A lot of selection of restaurants, so it’s difficult to pick which one is good. Generally, I go for the place which has more people. Haha.

Il Mee is generally not too bad. The environment is clean and tidy, and the staff are friendly. The place opens late which is good if you’re a late-eater. That night we ordered a variation of the Bibimbap and Beef Soup on rice. Most of the Korean soups have a Kimchi base. Il Mee has a standard offering of side dishes, and their fresh Kimchi is damn good! I strongly recommend it.

Beef soup with rice.

Bibimbap.

The two dishes above are good, the Bibimbap flavoursome, similarly with the Beef Soup. Although, the soup lacked the important items like…. beef. Prices were higher than the others, at least $10 for each dish. They have a large selection of Korean dishes, like the usual bolgogi (shredded meat) and BBQ buffet type arrangement.

Just on this occassion, I will give Il Mee an 7.5/10. Good tasting dishes, but not so good if you want to spend less than $10 on a dish. The next place I’ll review is much cheaper.

T Mark

I have great things to say about this place. T Mark is located upstairs, above their chinese supermarket in Newmarket. If you know where East in Newmarket is, then T Mark is right opposite it. I know East (and Wagamama) has a neo-oriental arrangement but I think it’s not authentic enough. You must go for the real thing, the root of it all. There are so many places out there, so get out of your comfort zone! Plus, they’re much cheaper and more delicious!!!

The ladies behind the counters are polite and friendly, even in English (they would speak mainly Chinese Mandarin). T Mark has the home-cooked feel, and personally the soup noodle dishes are great. I’d recommend the fishballs ($6) as an entre or for sharing. They also have a fast food section which I call mixed rice, and those are flavoursome. You get 3 choices for that option. The ones that I usually go for are the herbal-ish noodle soups. The chicken noodle in sesame oil or the lamb soup is great for winter. I have got some pictures below.

Mixed rice – Simmering pork on rice.

Herbal lamb noodle soup.

Oh, the best thing about this place is the parking. It’s free as long as you eat and shop at T-mark. The soup dishes would cost around $10, and the rice dish is about $9. Overall, it’s good value for money and it’s great tasting. If you really can’t make a decision when you’re at T Mark, try the beef noodle soup! I’ll give this place a 9/10. The price is right and they never seem to get it wrong – plus parking is easy.

China Bar – Melbourne Special!

Yes, yes. You saw it right. It’s Melbourne! I was away for a little bit in Melbourne and ate some great food. Sushi rolls and Vietnamese buns are everywhere. If you have AUD2.50, you can get a salmon roll, or if you have a dollar more, go get a Vietnamese bun.

I hung out at the Wesfield shopping mall in Doncaster (it was where I was staying – work-related) and decided to pick China Bar. It seems like the most popular one and had to pick a dish from the long list. I finally chose the chilli prawns on rice because it looked good.

Chilli prawns on rice.

Overall, the environment is OK. It’s the mall. The dish was reasonable but quite expensive, AUD12.80. It wasn’t really quite chilli-ish, more like tomato-ish with lots of sugar. At least it had veges and prawns was a reasonable amount – enough for my seafood dosage for the day. I’ll give the place a 7/10. Dish didn’t quite live up to expectations and not cheap. I have a few more places to add in the few days so bear with me.

Melbourne – it certainly has a bit more variety than Auckland. C’mon Auckland – let’s do it!

Boon Thai

Mediocrity. This is how I would describe this place. Boon Thai is located at the Rialto Newmarket food court. It was a random winter afternoon and we decided that Thai food would warm us up. The pictures looked great but in reality, it was average. We ordered the Tom Yum noodle soup and Basil chicken on rice. The portion is small for the price they were charging, and furthermore, the MSG is just a tad too much for me.

Tom Yum noodle soup.

Basil chicken on rice.

The Tom Yum noodle soup uses the instant noodle, which was fine because I’ve tasted a Korean version and it was great. I thought they were going to use authentic Tom Yum soup, I doubt it because it tasted like the Yum Yum instant noodle flavour. It probably was because the noodle was awfully similar to it. Portion was small, flavour was OK and price is not right ($10). I could have done this myself and did a better job, and for less than $10.

The basil chicken on rice wasn’t too bad. It was, in my honest opinion, average. Anyone can cook it, they just used basil leaves to flavour it up. Chicken portion was little, price was OK ($9) and it was salty.

Overall, not a place I’d recommend. If you want Thai food in Newmarket, I would suggest going to the Asian foodcourt underneath the Rialto carpark, otherwise if you really don’t want to move within the Rialto foodcourt, try Nandors, Subway or Fuku Sushi. Those are safer choice and “value for money”. I will give this place a 4/10. This is a combination of its mediocre taste offering and pricing – you can’t win ’em all.

On a side note: Fuku Sushi’s cheapest ‘piece’ is now $1.20. Urgh!

Atrium Food Court

Ahhhh.. what can I say. This place is full of variety and affordable dishes from Chinese, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Thai and many more.

The two spots we picked are the Vietnamese stand – Pho and Banana Leaf.

Chicken rice.

Lemon grass pork on rice noodle.

Overall, for dishes below $9, they’re not too bad. I’ve never tried the Vietnamese before but it’s always quite lonely. I can see why – it’s being overshadowed by the cheap Chinese stand next to it, the “excitement” of the Mexican on the other side and the overly popular Japanese stand nearby. Pho did make a mistake, instead of the pork I ordered, I’m sure I tasted chicken. It looked like chicken as well. I certainly won’t go back there even though the dish is decent. The competition is just too stiff and Pho lacks the marketability – sad but true, that’s what happens when you’re in a food court. You just need to catch the customer’s attention.

A notable mention would be the Malaysian – Banana Leaf. You even get a loyalty card. The chicken rice is not bad, but I have more favourite dishes in there (curry and wonton noodle soup). The portion is large and they seem to give a bowl of soup for most dishes. Very nice.

At this stage, I’ll give the Atrium food court an 8/10 for these two stands. I’d recommend Banana Leaf rather than Pho. There will be more to come, particularly the Japanese stand. It’s got so many variety, it’s crazy! Atrium has one fantastic thing, it’s free parking on the weekends if you spend more than $5 and it’s smack in the middle of town – that means you can go shopping. One destination I’d recommend is that $3 Japanese shop. =)

Dennys

Back in the old days, Dennys is the place to hang out. Actually, I should reword that. It was the ONLY place to hang out. That was about 8 years ago when I was in high school, and in Christchurch, where nothing opens beyond 7pm. Yes, it is very depressing. How glad I am 8 years later to end up in Auckland to have all these variety of food and for them to open late.

It was one late night (more like 9:30pm) and I was particularly hungry. Home food didn’t quite do it for me, even though it was good. So, I looked for a place and decided Dennys is the spot. This is the one at the corner of Victoria St and Hobson St, where the Esquires coffee shop is.

We ordered two items as shown below.

Satay chicken roll with fries.

Buffalo wings.

All in all, the cost is a bit on the high side (about $15 each). But where else can you get good ol’ Western food served 24 hours in Auckland. The satay chicken roll is probably one of my favourite dish back in 1999, and now, it sorta is. The buffalo wings are not bad, however it doesn’t really have the fried taste. The sour cream gave it a bit of a taste boost.

Overall, ain’t a bad place for some midnight cravings. Good range of food, a notable mention is the budget breakfast – pretty good! Only $6. I’ll give this place an 8/10. Though some branches are a bit lacking in service.