Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities on the planet. According to science (Science, 2021), the greater the cultural diversity, the greater the range of delicious places to eat. We’re meant to be spoilt for choice here…which makes me quickly breathe air through my nose, because we seem to be repeatedly choosing fried chicken, sushi, kebab, and not much else. We have a melting pot…where’s the fondue?
Some cuisines are seriously overeaten. Some cuisines are seriously underrated. Here’s my pick of some places around Auckland that might diversify your stomach a little. Pro tip: go to a restaurant with a person who knows that cuisine! No use going to a Thai place and only ordering the Pad Thai and then using chopsticks (the horror). Pro pro tip: Do not try to make friends this semester based on what ethnic foods you’ve wanted to try. Dawn still hasn’t returned my calls.
Grab your mates, go to a neighbourhood you’ve never been before. Who knows, maybe there’s a place down the street that you didn’t know about…
Vietnamese – Try It Out, Ōtāhuhu
Bit of a famous one, and the best rare beef phở in town, I reckon. Bánh mì goes off too. You know that scene in Ratatouille where Colette crunches the baguette to tell that it’s a good baguette? Yeah. That’s the quality of the bread here. Absolutely stuffed with meat, coriander and đồ chua (pickled veg). Is it worth it? My parents would do an 80-minute return trip for date nights here. Every week.
South Indian – Satya – Grey Lynn, Eden Terrace, Mt Eden
Indian, but not your usual tikka and vindaloo. Try their famous panipuri and chaat. Can’t go past the masala fries at the Sandringham branch. Tongan and Samoan – Fale Kai, Papatoetoe & Taste of Samoa, Henderson The best Islander food I’ve had has always been homecooked. And that’s straight facts. However, there are a lot of local businesses that are very popular (same rule applies here as it does for Asian restaurants that don’t have Asian diners…if you don’t see an Islander eating there, don’t go there…). There’s always the night markets to try something Pasifika styles, but for Tongan I’d say try Fale Kai in Papatoetoe, they open ‘til late all the time, and for Samoan try Taste of Samoa in Henderson – chop sui and palusami never tasted better.
Lebanese – Shefco, Mt. Roskill + Dominion Rd Takeaway
Charcoal chicken. Lamb kebab. Shawarma. Hummus. Salads. Chips (ofc). $25 AYCE on Friday and Saturday evenings. What more could you want. Came here with one of the boys once, didn’t talk much cause we were so focussed on the feed. When it’s not a buffet, there’s kebab and all the usual suspects (their house pita is also great). Hummus, babganoush and pita for takeaways? Pretty divine.
Filipino – Gold Ribbon, Glen Eden
I have only been here for the halo-halo (shave ice but so much more) and the ube cake. Holy moly the things you can do with potato’s cousins! Thank you, Philippines, now bring Jollibees here. Note: you may have heard of Turo Turo in GI. Filo friends said it was average, and non-Filo friends said it was delicious. Perhaps it’s more for Western tastes…?
Korean – Tai Ping, Glenfield
You wot m8? I am confusion. Yes yes, I said what I said. Had to include Korean ‘cause this isn’t your usual bibimbap/kbbq/food you saw in your guilty pleasure K-drama. At the back of the supermarket there is a Korean dumpling and steamed bun shop (right next to the Korean donut shop, which is right next to the Korean fried chicken shop). The dumplings hit home and the red bean buns make me outwardly smile. Buy ‘em frozen for snacc later hehe – and get a ggwabeggi (twisted sugar donut)!
Māori – Blue Rose Cafe, Sandringham
Te Ao Māori Editor here! Māori kai is hard to come by in shops and nothing slaps more than a good ol’ marae-made meal so usually, I would just wait until my next visit home to eat. But when I saw a TikTok of a lady eating HANGI PIES I knew I had to make my way there. You heard that correctly whānau, Hangi pies. Blue Rose Cafe in Sandringham homes not just Hangi pies but Boil-up pies too. So if you’re in the mood for the Hangi Pie’s creamy kumara and pork stuffing, or the Boil-up Pie’s salty bacon bones and watercress, your marae kai cravings will be satisfied! I’m personally a fan of the Boil-up Pie, with its flaky crust and JUICY meat inside (how do they do that?!?). Pair both pies with some tomato sauce, YUM!