The Manchurian Candidate


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Oceania » New Zealand
January 2nd 2016
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: -36.8474, 174.766

How was the Manchurian Candidate brainwashed? We developed a working theory today over lunch at Everest Dine, just down the street from our furnished apartment in Parnell - they probably brainwashed him with their Vegetable Manchurian, a dish so tasty that it would make anyone do anything you would want! Of course, maybe the brainwash protocol wasn't limited to just the Vegetable Manchurian, as all of their food was fantastic.

Nepalese food has always held a certain attraction for me, since we have a pretty tasty Nepalese restaurant in Calgary, the Himalayan. Their coconut naan is especially good, a delicious, buttery bread that blurs the line between dessert and an accompaniment for savoury dishes. It's just sweet enough that it could be eaten on its own, at the end of a meal, but not overly so, such that it still pairs wonderfully with a curry sauce.

So when we happened to stroll past Everest Dine yesterday, and a subsequent restaurant search on Tripadvisor revealed it to be a top-ranked restaurant in all of Auckland, my interest was more than piqued. And today we lucked into lunch here, because our fist choice was actually Gion, a highly-rated sushi joint. Fortunately, it was
Lamb Choila ...Lamb Choila ...Lamb Choila ...

... with fenugreek seed, mustard, and fresh coriander ... there was an almost peanut-like quality and crunch to the sauce. Super tasty.
actually closed, and our backup selection ended up to be one of the best meals we've had all trip.

It was difficult to pick the best dish of the day - lamb momos, incredibly tasty little dumplings made with the most tender of dough, and fish madras, in a rich, thick sauce, with a hint of sweetness ... I'm drooling, just thinking about this meal again. And the value was fantastic - a two-course lunch including a glass of wine, for about $18 CDN, including all taxes, and of course, tipping is not expected, as it's a rather foreign concept in NZ. How can you beat that? With all this food, we really didn't need the lamb momos ... but we ordered them anyway!

So far, Auckland has revealed a side to it that is quite similar to Wellington - the variety and quality of food here has been pretty good so far, though not quite on par with Wellington, Everest Dine, notwithstanding. Of course, we did have a larger sample to work with in Wellington, though that will change shortly, since we have three days in Auckland to sample all of its culinary delights.

It's a good thing that lunch was
Vegetable Manchurian ...Vegetable Manchurian ...Vegetable Manchurian ...

... fried vegetable dumplings, they are almost as meaty as a meat ball - sticky, spicy, and sweet, there was just enough of a spicy kick to get your forehead a bit sweaty, and the slightly-tart slaw on the side was a refreshing foil.
such a highlight today, since Auckland was a bit of a bust once again, with more rainy, windy weather. At least the CBD and Parnell were a bit livelier today, with a fair number of businesses now open, and significantly more life in the streets - again, we could only imagine how fun Auckland would be when life was in full swing. But we shouldn't complain too much - today would've been more than satisfactory, had we just sat around eating lamb momos, all day long ...



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Chicken Curry ...Chicken Curry ...
Chicken Curry ...

... our least-favourite dish of the meal - it wasn't bad, it was just a bit plain compared to all the other excellent dishes we had today.
Fish Madras ...Fish Madras ...
Fish Madras ...

... marinated with ginger and garlic, this thick, hearty, delicious sauce had a coconut-like characteristic to it, with a hint of sweetness. The fish was a tad meaty, but that sauce ... oh ... my ... God ...
Newmarket Food Hall ...Newmarket Food Hall ...
Newmarket Food Hall ...

.. heavily-hyped, it was actually a tad disappointing for dinner, despite a pretty extensive selection of Asian foods - Cambodian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese ... the Malaysian laksa was pretty bland, but interestingly used both noodles and vermicelli. Fish balls, prawns, fried tofu, fish, squid, and a bizarre fake crab claw. The Vietnamese vermicelli bowl featured some crisp but bland chicken that seemed to have been prepared on a plancha grill, which had only a tiny hint of lemon grass, and the vermicelli was quite thick - quite a forgettable dish.
Fake Crab Claw ...Fake Crab Claw ...
Fake Crab Claw ...

... I don't mind crab pollock, but this was just plain bizarre when they molded it around an actual crab claw shell - it looked like some kind of mutant bird head, with a disproportionately-small beak.
Chocolate Boutique Cafe ...Chocolate Boutique Cafe ...
Chocolate Boutique Cafe ...

... perhaps all that is cool about Parnell, this funky-little candy shop/dessert café/coffee shop was a great place to chill out, as evidenced by the packed tables. Unfortunately, we didn't find the culinary offerings to be on par with the atmosphere ...
Dodged a Bullet ...Dodged a Bullet ...
Dodged a Bullet ...

... this chocolate tiramisu cake wasn't bad, as it wasn't too sweet, despite the unnecessary chocolate sauce. The cake was quite plain, however ... but we got lucky - seeing some carrot cake in the display case, I had the brilliant idea of getting a slice to go, as breakfast for before tomorrow morning's early flight. I decided against it when the server told me "Oh, it's not fully defrosted yet ..."


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