Hammerheads Seafood Restaurant and Bar

Yes I am nuts – too much disposable income. Just kidding. It was for a special occassion so don’t get all excited that I’m quadrupling my budget for eat outs. Hammerheads is quite famous (apparently) for its seafood. I decided to try Hammerheads because I’ve heard good things about it (and also bad). For those who don’t know where it is, it’s quite near Kelly Tarlton’s Antartic Encounter and Underwater World, on the way to Mission Bay if you’re coming from town.

Looking at the menu in Hammerheads can be quite intimidating, nothing costs below $10 except for the beer. But I think it’s a must try (in a lifetime) for a special event. So when you get that bonus, or win that Lotto ticket, why not?

Some of the food sampled are shown below:

Seared Scallops.

Grilled Snapper Fillet.

Beef Fillet

Baked Valrhona Liquer and Chocolate Cake.

Dining at Hammerheads really did hurt when paying up. They even have an “electronic tip” option on their Eftpos machine!!! I think people just have too much frickin’ money. Service-wise, they didn’t do so well for my table. I guess they were busy tending the ones that were paying $100 per head. I have read reviews that their service was the best. But I felt that was not the case.

I think there would probably be places that serve the same dish at much lower prices, but at Hammerheads they are of a high standard to be honest (and the view is pretty awesome). The starter was scallops for $23, for 2 pieces it’s not a lot but it’s fresh and the sauce was quite delightful. The mains were the beef fillet and snapper, and surprisingly I preferred the beef. The snapper was $36.50 and beef fillet was $38. Not bad pricing eh?

In the end, I found their dessert to be the best I’ve had for a long time. The chocolate cake is rich and for $17 it is quite reasonable. Worth it. Overall, a good experience and no complains about the food.

Personally, a rating of 9/10. Great food. But not for the thrifty. It’ll be a looooong time till I come back to this place, perhaps when I get that pay rise or promotion. =)

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Valentino’s Gelato

It’s been a while since I’ve tried a gelato, and it was quite interesting to see this place in the city. Valentino’s Gelato is located at the Auckland Ferry Building. You could say it’s quite close to the Britomart, or you can definitely see it when you’re taking a ferry to Waiheke or Devonport. I sampled their Passionfruit gelato for $4.50. Picture below:

Passionfruit gelato.

Just a couple of comments, apparently this flavour is an “award winner”. But personally, I think it’s a tad too sour, and thus took quite a bit of effort to enjoy it. I’ve also tried the chocolate a couple of weeks ago, which is also an “award winner”.  To me, it was a bit too sweet for my liking. They’re definitely not the only gelato shops I’ve seen. I’ve spotted one in Mission Bay and another in Newmarket (same business I believe).

If you don’t know what a gelato is, have a look at the Wiki entry. From my knowledge, they’re more flavourful and less fattening (slightly) than ice cream. The problem with gelato is unfamiliar terriroty. I’m always thinking, “Which one?”

In terms of rating, Valentino’s Gelato gets a 7/10. My last two trips there have been average, the flavours are a bit too intense for me (sour + sweet).

Mentatz

By now you’ve probably figured out that I “hang out” in town. Yes, very true, mainly because I work smack in the middle of the city, unlike my previous job.

Anyway, tried Mentatz, which is another Japanese ramen-ish place located in Lorne Street. It’s somewhere near Esquires. To be honest, my first few times here was average. I think because I tried to be adventurous and chose the non-standard ramen. On this particular occassion, we chose the basics – Shoyu Ramen (the 1st choice) and Katsudon. Both for under $10 (I believe.) Bah, it’s cheap anyway.

Picture below:

Katsu Don.

Shoyu Ramen.

Personally, these two dishes above are fantastic. Tasted great and it’s frickin’ cheap. I guess the only negative part is that it can be quite busy. I don’t really have much to say but to rate it 9/10.  A cheap eat after work or uni. =)

Also, right at the end of Lorne Street is a Korean pan cake shop. Here is a link with more pictures. I tried the cheese pancake before for $3 and it tasted great. It’s like pizza! They have a ham and cheese as well. I am not too sure about the chicken/beef ones. But you can tell it’s popular, there’s always a line!

Taller Park

You must be thinking “What the f*** is he doing there?”

Yes, yes, I was hungry and it was late, and Taller Park was the only “decent” place open at night. Taller Park is not exactly famous for their hygiene (apparently there’s been rumours/”reports”). They are located on Wyndham Street, just off Queen Street. If you know where Kathmandu in town is, it’s sorta near there.

The first thing you can try to spot in Taller Park is their food premises grading certificate; it’s located behind the eftpos machine with the letter “E” covered by a cup or something. I was thinking, “Should I risk this?” Hehe, who cares, so I went in. I have tried this place a few times and quite like some of the dishes.

The menu was long and eventually decided on the same thing! I know, the combination rice (soya chicken + BBQ pork). But, the cool thing about this place is their large pearl milk tea (or green tea) drinks. For this occassion, we ordered the acidophilus green tea with pearl, and this is a special one. Pictures are shown below:

Combination Rice.

Acidophilus Green Tea with Pearl.

The combination rice was pretty good, plus there was the usual free soup. Also, I quite like the tofu side that came with the rice. For $10, it was huge and to be honest, tasted pretty good. I think Taller Park has a lot of potential, they just seriously need to work on getting a better food premises grading.

The drink was very good, the acidophilus green tea is quite a unique drink. It’s hard to describe but I do highly recommend it. For $4.30, you get the green tea, for $1 extra, you can have the pearls.

For this particular occassion, I don’t have any complains. It’s been more than a week since I had their dish and my tummy seems fine. Taking into account the size of the dish and its cost, and the unique green tea drink, I’ll give Taller Park an 8/10.

Gloria Jeans Coffee (Dressmart)

I feel a bit bad about writing this post, but I feel I had to express my disgust at one of the coffee shops in Dressmart. Gloria Jeans Coffee is a ‘specialty’ coffee retailer and a franchise organisation. So every GJ shop you see is a franchise, which typically means it’s owned and managed by a local.

I am a frequent traveller to Dressmart; obviously because they have the best range of clothes and at cheap prices. You seriously can’t complain. They have a few coffee shops in Dressmart to give shoppers a rest and have a cup of coffee. On two occassions I’ve tried the GJ coffee shop and twice their drinks just tasted like sh*t. I mean, when you pay $4.40 plus for ‘specialty’ coffee, you want to get the best for your money.

Trust me, for this *particular* shop, I don’t think they deserve to be a GJ franchise and should have new management. This is the story, a couple of weeks ago, I tried the mud slide mocha. On the picture it looked great but in reality, it looked like they just decided to rebrand a cup of brown-coloured frothy milk with too much sugar in it. And most recently, I tried the small iced GJ coffee, and it’s basically a cup of milk + espresso + syrup + ice. This franchise made it in less than 1 minute. That’s about it, nothing special and usually no problem to me. But for $4.40, I was expecting something special and it was just reconstituted milk + too much syrup.

And I feel bad writing about this because I know some people who own a GJ franchise. On this occassion, this branch is pathetic. I think they were trying to cut cost, or plainly can’t make coffee. I tried it twice (giving them a 2nd chance) and seriously, they just can’t make coffee.

A rating is no use for this Gloria Jeans in Dressmart. All I can say, don’t try it. Go to the Starbucks. In fact, I make better instant coffee than this place, and I am serious!

Kongfu Tea Restaurant

It’s been a long and strange week for me, which made it quite difficult to get the “energy” to post a review. As I was thinking through about what to post, I decided on this one. It’s a place I randomly went into a few weeks ago – Kongfu Tea restaurant. They are located on Khyber Pass Road, very close to the Cock & Bull and opposite Selera.

One thing kept bugging me as I went inside. Everyting seems quite familiar and I realised it was formerly a Japanese restaurant. It still had the remnants of a Japanese  restaurant (furniture and even napkins!!). Anyway, Kongfu Tea restaurant offers ‘specialty’ Chinese dishes, i.e. from a certain province/dialect. We ordered two dishes as below:

Beef Rice Noodle Soup.

Braised Duck on Rice.

I bought the standard “safe” dish obviously, the beef rice noodle soup. For the size, it’s damn good value for money – only $7! Although it lacked a bit of taste, I think it’s a good thing (less MSG, less salt). There is the option to add chilli/soya sauce, which I rarely do. There was also the braised duck on rice, with minced garlic vinegar sauce and pork stomach salted vegetable soup; phew, that’s a mouthful. As I said before, that’s a specialty dish from a Chinese province. I quite like that as well, for $11 it’s quite filling and has a unique taste – especially the soup. =)

I guess if you want to be adventurous, try the ‘specialty’ dishes, and be prepared for the interesting ones like the soup above. Overall, I think the place deserve a 7.5/10. There are many dishes from standard dishes you’d see at many Chinese places, and also options to go for non-standard dishes. Also, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. So go for it!

Ponsonby Food Court

If you’re ever in the Ponsonby area, you’re practically spoiled for choice. Unfortunately, like me, I’m on an average salary and can’t afford the luxury of dining in some of Ponsonby’s best (although I’d love to).

It was basically a random thing to go to this foodcourt, as I don’t pass by Ponsonby Food Court that often. If you don’t know where it is, it’s located on Ponsonby Road, near-ish to Burger Fuel. Actually, I had the opportunity to dine here many times about 2 years ago when I “lived” there. Couple years down the track, it hasn’t changed, except the new addition of the Mexican place.

The night we dined, it was packed so it must be good. We tried two dishes, a Japanese and Vietnamese dish. The foodcourt has various other cuisines, check out their website. Some pictures below:

Chicken Donburi.

Ginger Chicken on Rice.

The chicken donburi was actually not bad for $10 (from Dami Sushi). It’s an all-time favourite. Unfortunately, I thought the dish could do with less salt/soya sauce. Perhaps, a majority of people like it salty, like most people like their coffee with sugar (baseless conclusion FYI). The ginger chicken on rice was also very nice for $11.50 (from Mekong Vietnamese). Apparently, it’s quite a popular dish in the foodcourt. However, I’m not a big fan of crispy skin chicken, and thought the meat was a bit dry. Anyway, for $11.50, it’s quite a large dish.

I didn’t try the other stuff, the Indian and Chinese stores looked a bit plain. The Italian kinda isolated. The Malaysian store is well-placed, perhaps might try it. The Mexican and Thai seems popular. And last but not least, the guys in the middle doing the drinks – raking all the cash with their overpriced drinks and so-called juices.

Overall, Ponsonby Foodcourt is not bad. I haven’t been there for a while. It definitely has variety and it’s cheap in an “uptown” suburb. But I think the “authenticity” of the food here has been modified to suit. For this particular night, 7/10. There are better foodcourts out there I think.