Ginelli’s

Every once in a while in Mission Bay, a competitor emerges to try and dethrone Movenpick. I’ve seen a couple of ice cream places that seem to have potential, but I come back months later and somehow they disappear. Well it’s too bad. I hardly go to Ginelli’s mainly because I haven’t gone to Mission Bay in a while, and actually not sure how long it’s been there.

Latte Macchiato Gelato – 1 scoop ($5).

I decided to try it once, and first impression, the interior is not bad. The business looks like it’s family-owned and operated. This particular gelato I tried tasted more like ice-cream. For $5, the 1-scoop is kinda small by my standard. Overall, I can’t really say it’s good or bad, since I haven’t tried the other gelatos and they appear to win awards. However, if I compare Ginelli’s to Giapo, I don’t think this place has a chance at all. They would need to do a bit of work.

Happy Hour

It surprises me places like Happy Hour exists. It’s located in a building that looks like a trailer, the door slides funny and there’s no toilet. But I have to admit, the food is top notch. I got recommended this place by a work colleague (and now friend). It’s exact address is 947 New North Road. I’ve been here many times, and here are some of the samples:

Steam Chicken with Chinese Mushroom on Rice (Small Size = $8.50).

Happy Hour – Steam Chicken with Red Dates and Kei Chee on Rice (Big Size = $10.50).

Steam Pork Spare Ribs with Black Bean Sauce on Rice (Big Size = $10.00).

Crispy Chicken.

Tofu Dessert (Small Size = $3.00).

Stew Long Yan, Red Date and Egg with Rock Sugar ($6.00).

Tofu Dessert ($4.00).

To be honest, I think Happy Hour’s prices are fantastically value for money, and taste wise it’s great. There are so many options from steam chicken and pork dishes to desserts and snacks. The service is great, in fact, I believe they serve the tea quite quickly. Parking is quite easy to find. It’d be great if you can speak Chinese, but don’t be intimidated, they have an English menu (with pictures), it’s just unfortunate the specials are in Chinese. =)

I quite like the place, and recently, have been a regular visitor. My rating 9/10.

 

Casa del Gelato

I’ve been MIA. Sorry. But I am back for now.

There’s a place I didn’t know existed that serves desserts in Parnell in the back alleys called Casa Del Gelato. To be honest, I didn’t find it that great, but I thought it was a good alternative to the usual places. I still think there’s better places for gelato. Apparently, Case Del Gelato has a couple of branches, Mt Eden and Ponsonby.

Affogato.

It’s not bad and worth a try. 7/10.

Giapo

This place is quite a goodie. It’s very near the Burger Fuel on Queen St. Giapo serves gelato in traditional and fruit flavours. I’ve only been there twice, but have been impressed. The triple chocolate (?) and tiramisu flavours are very good. Below is a medium cup for $7:

Giapo Medium Cup Gelato

Medium Cup Gelato.

Highly recommended, 9/10. They have a facebook page as well.

Hulu Cat

Hulu Cat.

The last time I’ve been to this place was like 2007. That was a while ago and for a good reason. They’re located on Anzac Ave, near the Beach Road end. First, they seriously need to clean up their toilets cause I can smell pee like 3 metres away from the toilet door. Secondly, the damn place is cursed with no parking. I think they’ve removed like 90% of parking spots on Anzac Ave, so good luck to those who wants to “drive” to Hulu Cat. A couple of sampled drinks:

Hulu Cat - Wheat Tea with Pearl

Wheat Tea with Pearl.

Hulu Cat - Mango Slush

Mango Slush with Pearl.

I have to admit, their drinks are great provided you don’t let them go nuts on the syrup. What I’ve learnt, is that you have to request for less sugar for all these milk tea drinks. The staff just love to pile on the syrup. I wasn’t taking note of the price of these drinks but I think they were around $6. From what I remember, it wasn’t expensive or cheap, so pretty much standard price.

Anyway, they are famous for their pearl tea and quality is good. Environment is great and cosy, as long as you don’t sit near the toilet. Otherwise, a pain in the bum to go for a drink because of lack of parking around the area.

My rating is a favourable 8/10.

Vietnam Cafe

Lately for the past several months, I’ve been trying to find alternative Vietnamese restaurants. And yes, there is one in Otahuhu called the Vietnam Cafe. I used to know the place because it was near my old work place (Mt Wellington). Ah, those were the days.

Vietnam Cafe is quite easy to spot, it’s off Atkinson Ave. It’s pretty much the route you’d use if you’re coming from Mt Wellington towards Otahuhu, or taking the Princess St offramp.  The parking is harder to spot because it’s at the back. You’d spot the cafe, but most likely miss the turn for the carpark!

The place generally looks dodgy because of the car park. And it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s owned by Vietnamese. You be the judge. =)

A few dishes were sampled as shown below:

vietnam-cafe-combination-noodle-soup-copy

Combination Noodle Soup.

vietnam-cafe-moong-copy

Vietnamese Noodle.

vietnam-cafe-curry-chicken-on-rice-noodle-copy

Curry Chicken on Rice Noodle.

vietnam-cafe-traffic-light-copy1

Traffic Light.

I’d say the best dish to try is the combination noodle soup.  The rest are OK. I even tried the “Traffic Light” drink which was somewhat disappointing. The dishes are cheap though, $10 for the curry chicken on rice noodle and vietnamese noodle. The combination noodle is $12. Traffic Light is $3.50.

Personally, if you do go there, just get the combination noodle soup. It’s not bad. The rest you’d have to cross your fingers. I found the curry chicken rice noodle a bit plain. The drink was also a bit plain. However, one thing I notice is the fried spring rolls which “looked” good.

My rating is 7/10. Good enough for me because of one dish. Perhaps they forgot to add MSG on my curry chicken. =) 

On another note, I believe there is another Vietnamese place opening very soon on Beach Road (near Foodtown/China Restaurant). Can someone confirm this? I’m interested to find out if it’s already open, or going to open. I knew about it because they sold a damn good Pho (noodle soup) during the Lantern festival.

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. =)

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).

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!!

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.

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!