Theobroma Chocolate Lounge

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge – I usually call this place the Barack Obama Chocolate Lounge. Bahhh, enough of my pathetic attempt to insert humour in this blog. Theobroma Chocolate Lounge has two branches, one in Sylvia Park and the other in St Lukes. It looks like they’re doing well and supposedly entering into the “chocolate drink” cafes market. It’s not a huge surprise as they have already flooded cities like Melbourne with similar places such as Koko Black and Max Brenner.

I have tried this place many times, but never reviewed so here goes. We bought two drinks, the mocha and chocolate drink – both Belgian Dark. Some pictures below for you to see:

Belgian Dark – Mocha.

Belgian Dark – Chocolate.

Chocolate Assortments.

The mocha is $5.60 and the chocolate is $5.40, and these are for cup sizes. They have mugs which have little candles on the bottom that continuously heat the drink. If you’re feeling rich, you can buy chocolate assortments for $2.30 each. There is also the “bulk” price but still not that cheap. I guess similar to the Chocolate Boutique, Theobroma is “special” because it is a chocolate cafe. Thus, they price themselves above average than many coffee places (even the Chocolate Boutique).

Personally, Theobroma is just too damn expensive and I believe they’ve recently increased their price (you can see the stickers). But it’s a nice place and I think the chocolate must be of good quality. So, I’d recommend if you’ve got paid and want to treat yourself, try this place out. But don’t come back in 6-12 months, else you’re just spending too much money and in need of a financial advisor.

The service is one thing I’m concerned about with this place (Slyvia Park). Perhaps it’s a random thing or I’m just too fussy, but one time I lined up to get a drink when it was just about to close. There was basically the guy in front and myself to be served. The manager decided to serve the guy in front but decided I wasn’t worth serving. Keep in mind that, I did not just arrive but had been waiting. Also, the time during this review, the cashier was a loud and not quite friendly enough. I’m paying $5+ for one chocolate drink – the least you could do is pretend to like me.

Overall, Theobroma is a great place for chocolate drinks, particularly the Belgian Dark range. But it is quite pricey and for my case, the service is not great. I’m sure hundreds of people will flock into this place anyway. My rating is 7/10. Fantastic drinks, but a bit too pricey and in need of some serious review of their service.

My last comment – You’re a “luxury” place, start treating your customers like kings and queens!!

Zap 2

Ah, the infamous Zap 2. It’s always featured in the Metro Magazine or the NZ Herald, yada yada yada! And I can see why – it’s popular because of its reputation for bringing out some of the best dishes.

It was a random day at work when a friend from Christchurch called me. He was up here for training and wanted to catch up. I thought “Cool”, why not bring him out to have good Thai food. So, I thought Zap 2!!! This Thai place is located on Dominion Road, in the suburb of Balmoral. The first thing when we came into the restaurant, it was pretty much packed and this was mid-week. I guess if you’re keen on trying this place out, booking is a must during the busy nights. Below were some of the dishes we tried that night:

Pad Ped (Spicy Stir Fried Fish).

Roast Duck Curry.

Phuket Island.

One thing I noticed while dining was that some tables were having their dishes individually. A bit strange when you can share – something I do encourage. If you’re worried about hygiene and all, use a common spoon. It’s not hard!

Now to the ratings, the roast duck curry is quite the bomb. It’s got fantastic flavours with the tomatoes and pineapple. Although I think that they should put a bit more duck in that meal as it was seriously lacking meat. The Pad Ped is also very nice for $14. It’s fried fish, stir fried with other vegetables in spicy sauce. A great meal and one I strongly recommend. The Phuket Island was a strange one. It’s stir fried chicken, squid and prawn with vegetables. It’s got a lot of variety but to me, it’s just got that hint of “standard” dish. The word “Phuket” is most likely used to target (market) a certain group of customers – if you know what I mean =) For $15 it’s OK but not something I’d buy again.

A couple of negatives about this place. The table that we sat in was very low as if they bought it from a 2nd hand shop. I felt that I was still in kindergarten, and personally I had to hunch to eat my food. Also, they charge additional $2 for rice which is quite uncommon for a lot of Asian places. The least Zap 2 could do with the extra cash they’re earning is buy some decent tables and chairs. Anyway, it’s still good food!

They have a website and you can check their menus. They also have a branch in the city called Zap 4 and it’s not bad. My rating for this place is 8/10. Try the curries and beware of the “extra” cost for rice. If you get a low table, get it changed as it is quite uncomfortable.

BBQ King

I knew this place through a friend of mine. I was new to Auckland that time, and was amazed since Christchurch never really had the atmosphere. As the name implies, BBQ King have a great selection of BBQ dishes. It’s like little Hong Kong in Auckland. I think it’s fantastic. The first thing you get when you have a sit is a bowl of complimentary soup and tea. Real service. Personally, I never really had anything other than the combination rice because I think it’s great. The other stuff just looks more Europeanised (sweet & sour, wontons etc), no offense!

The complimentary soup has a strong flavour with meat and carrots, and to be honest, it’s damn good for free soup. I tried two “different” types of combination rice at BBQ King recently, different meaning I always have the BBQ Pork and Soya Sauce Chicken, and if they didn’t have it, I’ll try the Soya Baked Chicken or Roast Duck.

Personally, I recommend a two Combination meal, it gives a bit of variety and costs only $11. Plus, it’s enough for two people! So if you’re only buying for one person (i.e. yourself) then you have the option to pack it home in a container to bring home. Pretty good eh?

Complimentary Soup.

Combination Rice 2 – BBQ Pork and Soya Baked Chicken.

Combination Rice 2 – BBQ Pork and Soya Sauce Chicken.

For this occassion, I quite like the rice meals. No complaints at all. Large portions and quick service. However, BBQ King is located in the central city which can be difficult in terms of parking. If you want to know where it is, it’s in a small road off Queen Street near the Qantas Building.

In terms of rating, just for the serving size, flavour and freebies, I’ll give them a 9/10, and only if you try the meat combination dishes!

Chocolate Boutique

What’s going on here? Is it dessert week? No. Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know!! I just post these things randomly.

Chocolate Boutique is located in Parnell, quite near to Starbucks. I know this place is not ideal for most people – it’s kinda pricey and not that great if you’re on a diet. But hey, once in a while, you gotta spoil yourself. Perhaps do this once a year or something, unless your metabolism is off the charts.

Chocolate Boutique prides itself in being unique. One of their reason is that President Clinton and his daughter had drinks there a long time ago. You know what that means right?  Parnell is full of liberals! Enough about politics. Some of the drinks/desserts we bought on a September night below:

Mocha Nut Latte.

Bittersweet Submarino.

Death By Chocolate.

The other view of the above.

If my memory serves me right, the mocha nut latte is $4, and the submarino is not too far off that, perhaps $4.50. The dessert is slightly more expensive at $6.50. When I think about it, the pricing is the same for all desserts or cheaper compared to other places.

One thing, Chocolate Boutique is always full – or maybe because I always arrive at around 8-9:30pm (peak time?). But it’s good, they cater to their capacity. It’s a tiny store. On top of buying drinks (cold & hot) and desserts, they have a huge range of confectionary to purchase from. In fact, the word ‘huge’ is an understatement.

Personally, I quite like the dessert, Death by Chocolate. The mocha nut latte is not bad, but the Submarino has a funky taste. It’s quite hard to describe. Maybe it suits some people.

It’s quite difficult to rate this place, because there is another chocolate place I prefer (as in drinks). And comparing them both might not be the best. But Chocolate Boutique is special and ‘homegrown’, and for this occassion, I’ll give it an 8/10. Try the desserts and coffees – it’s a safe choice! But if you’re adventurous, try the special coffees/chocolate.

Momo Tea

Normally this isn’t a place I would go to. But a couple of friends dropped by in Auckland and wanted to meet there. Obviously this place is quite a popular hangout, as it was pretty full when we dropped in at around 11pm on Friday. Momo Tea has three branches in Auckland (that I know of), one in the CBD, North Shore and Mt Albert. This particular review is held in Mt Albert.

In my head, I knew how the milk tea would taste like – frothy and milky. And lo and behold, it is. We ordered the “hot” taro pearl milk tea and cold original pearl milk tea. And to fight the midnight hunger, we ordered the chicken, beef and lamb sticks. Have a look at the pictures below.

Taro Pearl Milk Tea (Warm).

Original Pearl Milk Tea (Cold).

Chicken, Beef and Lamb Sticks.

The milk teas were reasonably priced at $5. You don’t expect to pay more than $6 for the mik tea. But I’m not a big fan of the frothy milky taste (thus recommending Easyway if you prefer less milky and more tea taste). The meat sticks were quite delicious, especially the chicken and beef sticks.  The lamb sticks had quite a bit of fat on it, so I avoided that with a vengeance. For $1 a stick, it’s very reasonable. They had other sticks, like chicken heart, liver etc.

Personally, my milk tea taste is of a unique standard (not too milky) so I wouldn’t drink it here. But the meat dishes is a good recommendation from me. However, for that particular night, there was an ‘aggressive’ waitress and she didn’t really talk politely (bad day perhaps?).

So with all that taken into consideration, I’ll rate the place 6.5/10. Their meat sticks saved them! So, if you’re into kebabs, satay sticks etc, come to Momo Tea.

Movenpick

This is what I call a great business idea. I used to like the idea of eating fancy European ice cream on the beach. Back in the old days, Movenpick (the first cafe was in Mission Bay) had tasty ice cream and appealed to almost everyone that went to the beach. I’m talking about 2006/2007 by the way. Flavoursome ice cream at a ‘reasonable’ premium price.

But around mid 2007, our friends at Movenpick started to increase their price. That’s when I stopped going. Here is the price I took note of August last year:

  • $5.50 for a single scoop.
  • $7.50 for a double scoop.
  • $2 for an extra scoop.

This might have changed i.e. probably went up since it’s already September 2008. Someone can update me! Logically, you’d just go to Foodtown and buy a 1L Movenpick pottle (is that the correct word?) at around $10++. You can have 10-15 scoops.

Unknown Dessert from Movenpick.

Anyway, I believe price-wise, they were being dodgy. But you can’t stop a money-making machine, who probably pride themselves in being “special”. Movenpick has one more branch in Parnell, and I believe there is a Wellington branch coming up soon.

A rating for this place would be unfair as I haven’t been there since August 2007. I’d suggest trying it once, if you think it’s nice. Go again. But if you think it’s expensive, buy a 1L pottle from Foodtown. If you think that’s still expensive, try the Signature range premium ice cream! They’re good value for money!

Choice Bakery – Mooncake Special!

For those people who are brave enough to venture out to mysterious and exotic places like the chinese supermarkets (which are plastered with foreign characters unknown to the typical Kiwis), by now you would have figured out that there is something going on in the Chinese community. And yes, you are correct to think that – it’s the Mooncake Festival! It falls on the 14th of September this year. It’s also known as the Lantern or Mid-Autumn Festival. This basically means it’s an excuse for Chinese people to eat lots and play with fire (in the form of lanterns).

One of the ways the Chinese celebrate this festival is eat mooncakes (or give them to people). They’re usually square in shape, and reside in metal boxes. You might notice them near the cashier. Generally, it’s cheaper to buy in a box because buying a single mooncake can set you back $8 to $10. It’s not cheap and considered a luxury/delicacy. However, the bakeries tend to sell it cheaper like this place near the Newmarket Plaza Food Court called the Choice Bakery. It’s located in the row of shops off Teed Street (where lots of people tend to wait for carparks when it’s actually more convenient to just go upstairs to Rialto carpark). It’s in between the hair saloon and butcher.

Choice Bakery had a special and were offering their mooncakes at “reasonable” prices. I bought a pack of mini mooncakes for $8. It was the read bean filling with egg, but there were other choices, like lotus filling with egg etc. If you feel adventurous, try the mooncake instead of the biscotti, brownie, muffin etc.

Mooncake – Red Bean with Egg.

Half-eaten version of the above.

I’m not exactly sure if I should rate this place as I only had ONE mooncake. So for this moment, I won’t. But I do suggest if you’re hungry and not feeling like the same ol’ morning tea or coffee break stuff, try the mooncake!

To everyone, Happy Mooncake Festival!

Degree

Degree has it all. Good deals during the week, a mixture of unique and common dishes, and to be honest, the best seafood chowder I’ve had since I began my roller-coaster life in Auckland.

During the week, Degree has specials. For example, on Tuesday Degree has dessert specials and on Thursday, it’s $10 pizzas (note: this might change). They’ve got Sky everywhere, so a good place to watch sports (not listen) because it’s too damn noisy.

Mixed stone grill.

Degree burger.

My recommendation for this place is the seafood chowder (entre) and pizza breads. The chowder is $14.50 and pizza bread $7.50. Just having those two dishes is more than enough for dinner i.e. very filling so only have entres if you have plenty of friends coming along. But yeah, Degree tempts all customers with their variety of food (and alcohol), for example stonegrills, pizzas, seafood, salad etc! It’s crazy! The beer is great and they have $5 cocktails on Thursday.

Anyway, the stone grill is the flagship product for this place. If you passed by this restaurant in the evening, you’ll see a big slab of hot metal cooking meat. The mixed stone grill is a good option because of the variety of meat and you get two sides for a stone grill dish. It costs $25.50, and goes up to $33.50 if you’re getting the 400g steak! It’s not bad, and pricing is typical for that dish. The Degree burger is a pretty standard dish. At that price ($18.50), I won’t complain as it’s very filling. But if you want good burger – try Burger Fuel!

One problem as usual, Degree is located in the Viaduct. So parking is a nightmare to find at peak times. When I do have a dinner there again, I’ll put up pics of the seafood chowder and pizza bread. A must have over there!

My rating for Degree, 8/10! I know, I know, I’ve been rating places highly recently. Maybe because I’m in a good mood. Who knows. Anyway, if you join the Degree club, I believe you can have your main meal FREE!

Archie’s Pizzeria

Ah, finally Italian. One of my favourite dishes. It’s easy to locate this place. It’s somewhere behind Olympic Pool in Newmarket, specifically at 61 David Crescent (think roundabout). I believe the owner of this place owns the other 2 places next to it – just a hunch. One thing I notice about Archie’s is that they hire backpackers/travellers as waiters (you can tell when they speak). Not a problem to me as long as they’re women!

But I would like to digress somewhat, I found a similar food blog in Bebo reviewing Archie’s – click HERE. It gives a different perspective to Archie’s, mainly negative but it’s a good 2nd opinion. Bear in mind though, in the last paragraph, the poster/blogger recommends Burger King or McDonalds as an alternative. Problem is, stuff in BK/McD are unhealthy and not something I’d recommend.

Anyway, Archie’s is one of my favourite places because during lunchtime they have a special. $10 lunches!! It’s a magnet for couples, tourists, working people etc. I think it works to be honest, pricing is right and size/portion is reasonable. If you want generous, I’d try the pasta. Here are some examples of the food we tried:

Seafood Fettucine.

Pollo e Pesto.

Al Salmone.

Pan Fried Seafood Salad.

For the above, I love the seafood. At one time, I had the Al Salmone, the cook was generous with the salmon portion and it really gave me a good impression. I came back several times. But recently, the salmon portion has been less, but still not that disappointed as the pasta and salad still is very well done and reasonably sized. The polo e pesto (chicken pizza of some sort) is not bad, but I LOVE the salmon pizza. The seafood salad is fantastic and the pasta is generous. Seriously, for $10 you can’t complain and this is not fast food (i.e. Pizza Hut). You get a place to sit and listen to music.

Personally, I don’t think this place has an issue with “temperature” of their food (previously mentioned blog). Portion-wise, it is relatively small and you can’t blame them. For $10, they’ve gotta make some money.  For those who want a light meal, this is great.

I would rate this place highly, 8.5/10 and only for lunch. I believe at dinner time, it goes back to “normal” pricing. Try the seafood offering, or perhaps the salad or pasta. You won’t be disappointed. If you are, let me know.

Ramen Daikoku

For you train commuters to the CBD, you should know this place. It’s right next to it (Britomart)!!!

Here’s the story, I was a bit tired after work on Friday and decided that I wanted something light. First thing that popped into my head – Japanese. I looked around and all the sushi shops were closed, not that I wanted sushi, I wanted to see if they had soup dishes. Then, there were the yakitori restaurants (if you know yum cha – it’s similar). But the problem with yakitori restaurants is that their dishes tend to be small and overpriced, something I don’t recommend. I still don’t understand why people go there – but hey, it’s a free world and my apologies if I’ve offended you. I just think that there are better ways to spend money. =)

Tonkotsu Ramen.

Shio Buttercorn Ramen.

For this particular outing, we ordered the above dishes. The tonkotsu ramen is a special dish (apparently for that month) and it’s a spicy dish. Cost about $11 from memory. The shio buttercorn ramen is a special variation of the standard ramen at $8.90. The dishes were light on meat (which is not a bad thing), tasty soup and plenty of noodles. Another dish that I tried here before is the curry ramen, which is quite tasty. Price-wise, you’ll be expecting to pay around $10. The staff are very friendly – greeting everyone who comes in and out (in Japanese!).

My rating for this place, 9/10. Good price, tasty, light and friendly. Only issue, if you’re driving to this place – forget about it.

Nando’s

I know the above restaurant is not unique to Auckland. But it’s everywhere in and around the city, so it’s a notable mention. Of all the food you can buy in Nando’s, I guess the most famous dish is the quarter or half chicken, perhaps with a side dish such as peri peri chips. It’s an all-time favourite. In this particular review, I tried something different. The chicken livers with portuguese roll. It’s a relatively cheap dish, costing less than the meat dishes (around $8.90) and it’s got a unique flavour.

Chicken Livers with Portuguese Roll.

To me, I’ve eaten livers before, pork and chicken so it wasn’t a shock to me. The flavour is unique and I strongly think people should give it a try. The peri peri sauce usually masks most of the livery taste and with the portuguese roll, it’s not a bad dish at all.

Rating this particular dish is hard, because it’s not for everyone. Personally, I’d give it a 7/10 simply because I think it’s not a mainstream dish but it’s not terrible food.

Nol-Bu-Ne

Okay, I am not a super big fan of Korean. They just happen to be everywhere, especially in the CBD. Don’t ask me, but it’s just there. One night after work I went with my girlfriend to Nol-Bu-Ne, a strangely located restaurant. It’s on 10 Wellesley Street, on the 1st Floor. So you need to use an elevator to access it, that means a bit of waiting.

I wasn’t going to do a review of this place because we’ve had our fair share of Korean food in this blog, and plus, the food was pretty much standard price ($10-ish). However, the thing that bugged me is disturbing.

As I was waiting for my order of Bul Go Gee (Beef dish), I went to the toilet to wash my hands. When I was in the toilet, one of the waiters went in there as well, and he didn’t wash his hands! Yes, no washing hands after going to the toilet to pee. Shocking!

Shame on you Nol-Bu-Ne! Not going back there, even though the guy was serving food only, I was pretty much disgusted. No rating for them at all, WASH YOUR HANDS after you go to the toilet boys. It’s not that hard.