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!!

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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!