Thai Friends

There is an odd-looking place on Parnell Road called Thai Friends. I say odd because it doesn’t exactly look like a big place at all when you pass by. I always thought it was a bit strange for them to run a business with tables and chairs (about a handful) outside. Little did I know that they had more room/space at the back! But that’s probably reserved for dinner.

I decided to try out this place for lunch after a long day at looking for overpriced property around the area. Also, they’ve got awards and stuff like that. So I wanted to see what the big fuss was about. Initial observation of the menu will definitely give you a heart attack. It’s really odd, of all the Asian cuisine, Thai and Indian are always overly priced comparatively. Why is that?

Anyway, thank goodness they had a “Special Lunch Menu”. Two dishes were sampled as shown below:

thai-friends-thai-hot-green-curry-on-rice

Thai Hot Green Curry Chicken.

thai-friends-thai-seafood-laksa

Thai Style Seafood Laksa.

The chicken green curry is a traditional, all-time favourite and it costs about $13.50. It’s not bad. The Thai style seafood laksa was a unique one. I thought the laksa was very good. The seafood is quite fresh and the flavour of the laksa soup was delicious. For $17.50, I thought it was worth it. Of all the laksas I’ve forced myself to try, this was the best (I’m usually not a big fan of laksa). It’s not full of MSG, and the seafood is real seafood. It’s not frozen seafood like fishballs, fishcakes, surimi, etc.

Based on the two above dish, I thought Thai Friends is worth a try, for lunch that is. I am not sure about dinner. It may be a bit overpriced, especially during this difficult economic time. My rating, 9/10.

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Zap 4

Zap 4 is like the evil twin of Zap 2. Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s the other branch.

As I was waiting in line to buy my lunch at Zap 4, I keep hearing the same thing ordered from menu. Yes… yes, that’s right. Friggin’ Pad Thai!!! I’m gonna shoot myself if I hear someone say, spring rolls, wonton soup, pad thai and fried rice!! ARGGHHHH… just kidding!

Zap 4 is a good place for Thai to be honest. A bit dodgy at times for charging for rice though, which ticks me off a bit. They charge extra for rice, so if you think you’re ordering a curry, you do get a curry just without the rice!!! How the heck am I gonna eat my curry without rice.

Anyway, the usual. Here are pictures of what was sampled. Very similar to Zap 2.

zap-4-roast-duck-curry

Roast Duck Curry.

zap-4-pad-ped-fish

Pad Ped Fish.

zap-4-green-curry

Green Curry.

zap-4-larb-gai

Larb Gai.

In summary, the roast duck curry and pad ped fish was $12 (premium dishes??), and the green curry and larb gai was $10. For the rice, it’s an extra $2. DODGY!!! But anyway, the curries are good – can’t complain. My favourite would have to be the pad ped fish. It’s lovely. Larb gai is an interesting dish, some people like it, some people don’t (like me). Zap 4 also sells the usual, pad thai, fried rice etc. One thing they do sell that’s somewhat familiar to me is the Guay Jab (not sure if I spell it right). It’s thick rice noodle in a pork soup/broth. It won’t suit some people because of the strong pork flavour. On top of that, there’s intestines, liver etc. A good try if you don’t mind those body parts. =)

Anyway, if Zap 4 weren’t so dodgy with the hidden cost (extra rice!!), I’d give them a very high rating. But they are reasonably priced. My rating for this occassion, 8/10. Not absolutely fantastic. Where’s my next 9/10??

Newmarket Plaza Food Court

This is the infamous Newmarket Plaza Food Court (and a massive post). I know, I’m probably boring everyone with the same old type of food and “area”. But don’t worry, I am working on going to the outskirts of Auckland very soon – seriously! But this post will have variety as I have collected a few things for everyone to see. If you’re one of those people working in Newmarket on weekdays, or those who shop there during the weekend, maybe this post will help with your barrier of resistance when pondering into the land of the unknown – that is the Newmarket Plaza Food Court.

Personally, foodcourts tend to confuse potential customers with billions of choices at affordable prices. At times, I really hate it. It drives me crazy. And also, how do these places come up with all these ideas and fit so many pictures in one menu. But, rest assure, Newmarket Plaza is a milder version. There is no overkill of choices, still plenty but not unreasonable like some places *ahem* CBD *ahem*.

LAKSA HOUSE

This is a Malaysian place – two things tend to be quite popular here. The Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hokkien Mee (based on observation). I’ve tried the chicken rice and it’s fantastic. I haven’t tried the Hokkien mee yet. Occassionally I try the other stuff, for example, the Kueh Tieu Mee shown below. This dish costs me $9.50 I believe.

Kueh Tieu Mee.

Personally, I would recommend the chicken rice, and the rice noodle dishes i.e. kueh tieu mee, wat tan hor and char kueh tieu. They’ve also got curry chicken on rice and curry laksa noodle soup, but I haven’t tried them in a while. My rating? Based on the recent dishes I had here – it’s an 8/10. It’s very nice and you’d expect to pay $10.

PASSION FOOD

This place has a Hong Kong flair to it – dead poultry hanging for all to see. It’s hard to notice this place because they are the odd one out, hiding in the corner on the way to the toilet. One thing you have to try is the combination rice. You’re thinking *yawn* combo rice again!? But hey, I love that stuff.  Remember that it’s not listed in the menu (only one meat with rice is listed). But just ask for it i.e. a two combo rice. Not surprisingly, my favourite is the BBQ pork and soya chicken. For this post, I tried the roast duck and soya chicken. Again, a fantastic combo and it’s cheap! Around $10 only.

Combination Rice (Roast Duck and Soya Chicken).

Hard to rate this place. It may be difficult to eat the meat dishes because of the bones etc. But there is no complaints from my side. The standard rating, 8/10. You ain’t gonna be disappointed. If so, let me know!

NEW VILLAGE KOREAN FOOD

You can’t go wrong with Spicy Pork on Rice at this Korean place. $10 is the price you pay for most of the dish, and it usually comes with three side dishes and a soup. Magnifique! On a different occassion, we bought two dishes (BBQ Chicken and Dolsot Bibimbap), and they gave 5 different side dishes! That’s generous!!

Spicy Pork with Rice.

Dolsot Bibimbap

BBQ Chicken with Rice

New Village rocks because of their generosity. The bibimbap and bbq dishes are my recommendations. The serving size is also large. My rating for this place is 9/10. It’s got flavour, variety and all for $10 (usually).

SILK THAI

I have almost no recollection of this dish but it’s that Thai place. It’s not particularly popular for some reason. Maybe because they’re not noisy enough and don’t have big flames in the kitchen. I’ve tried one of their curry dish below, I think it’s mango curry or something. Silk Thai has come a long way, about a year ago, they were severely lacking in appeal. I think they probably got a marketing guy to help them out and I think it helps. They’ve got pictures now and the food looks good.

Unknown Curry Dish.

From memory, the curry dish is reasonable (curry soup didn’t look “curry-ish” enough, as if they put lots of cornflour). Other than that, no issue whatsoever. Also, I’ve tried the satay chicken before, and it’s what I would recommend as a side dish. Price wise, I have almost no recollection.

A rating would be unfair as I only have one single dish reviewed, and I don’t even know the name of it. But, Silk Thai offers an alternative to its high-performing neighbours (New Village, Passion Food and Laksa House). Thai always seems to be a “Kiwi” favourite and perhaps they’re taking advantage of it.

BAR IN THE CAFE

I had a post about this place a couple of months ago – just for one drink! The Asian Coffee is highly recommended by me.  Seriously, don’t buy those sugary bottled drinks, try the fresh sugary coffee instead. If it’s too hot, get the iced version – the Iced Asian Coffee is only $4. It’s like the funky Asian version of the Starbucks Frappuccino.

Iced Asian Coffee.

If you want to rate this place, it’s hard. For bottled drinks, it’s not worth rating. For desserts, I’ve never tried it. For the fresh coffee, damn good! 9/10!

My friends, overall this is my pathetic attempt to do a bundled “foodcourt” review. It’s hard because I can’t seem to remember prices and things like that – so prefer one off visits. But if you have comments, please feel free to make them!

The Newmarket Plaza – it has variety, it is affordable and depending on which dish you choose, you can get a fantastic meal (and drink).

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.

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!