Thursday, September 1, 2016

Auckand Diner's Diary: August 2016

Novel Pop-Ups

Feeds in the City

On the Fringe - Ponsonby and Parnell

On the Fringe - Mount Eden and Newmarket

On Point

Branding New

Cheap and Cheerful

  • Mama Flavour 媽媽味 - Chinese restaurant in Eden Terrace with some interesting menu items
  • Bab Deng Deng - Korean fusion food in Mount Eden




Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Meal in Brief: Burger Bar K'Rd

We came here because this burger bar opened at St Kevins Arcade around the same time as the glowingly reviewed Lebanese eatery Gemmayze St just steps away, yet I couldn't find anything about it online other than on their Facebook page.

The menu not only ran through their selection of burgers, sides, sauces and drinks, but gave some details that they really ought to slap on a website. Things like:
  • "Our patties are handmade and we mince our beef, pork and lamb fresh on site"
  • "Our chips are hand cut and condiments and sauces made in house"
  • "All buns are wholemeal"
  • "We stock a wide range of locally made boutique soft drinks and an even wider rage of craft beers"
  • "We have a strong focus on minimising waste"

The setting had a vintage feel, which was perfectly suited to the iconic arcade. From the wonky lamp and retro furniture, to the classic board games and tea towels with burn marks, to the colourfully mismatching plates, this places manages to be both delightful and different.

Retro couches with TV dinner trays and National Geographic magazines.

Cutesy robot table numbers.

The service was given with a smile, from a lady wearing a soft burger hat. I had to ask how to open my bottle of CoAqua coconut water (just $4!)—I only realised afterwards that I captured the opener in the photo above—but I easily spotted the herb salts and sauces you can help yourselves to.

Board games, herb salts and sauces.

What we ate included:
  • Lamb burger ($14) - stacked tall and skewered into place, you could clearly see each layer of filling: salsa verde, cumin and rosemary lamb, brie, kale and spinach, tomato, beetroot, and red onion, sitting between two halves of a wholemeal Wild Wheat bun. It was fresh and flavourful, and though you don't generally expect wholemeal bread in a burger, it really worked.
A tall and tasty lamb burger.

  • Vege/vegan burger ($11) - we were given the option of having cheddar cheese or brie with this, but it seems they left it out in the end. No matter - it was already a filling meal as it was. The spiced pumpkin, chickpea and lentil patty was a little soft (so it squished out the sides if you squeezed too hard) and also a little underseasoned (but that was easily fixed with the aforementioned herb salts). The vibrant colours, including the bright pink of beetroot hummus and the pale green of the coriander yoghurt, helped bring out the different components of the burger.
A colourful vege burger.

  • Homemade coleslaw ($4.50) - creamy without being heavy, a great addition to boost your veg intake!

Overall, the Burger Bar K'Rd has everything going for it: a great location, tasty and wholesome burgers and sides, a neat atmosphere, and an ethical philosophy. It deserves so much more press than it is currently getting, and we can't wait to come back and try some more (for instance, their duck breast, chicken liver pate and crisped parsnip special looks epic)!

The Burger Bar K'Rd is a perfect addition to St Kevins Arcade.

Restaurant Details

Shop 18, St Kevins Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road, Auckland

Opening hours:
Mondays to Tuesdays 11am - 3pm
Wednesdays to Thursdays 11am - 9pm
Fridays to Saturdays 11am - 10pm
Sundays 11am - 7pm

Monday, August 1, 2016

Auckland Diner's Diary: July 2016

Cityside Eats

Food at the Fringe

Out and About


Other Food News


Apart from the events already listed in a previous post, here are some events coming up:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Auckland Diner's Diary: June 2016

Around Town

City Fringe

Going the Distance


Other Food News


Also worth a mention: although the Visa Wellington on a Plate (12 - 28 August) is not in Auckland, there are some fantastic events organised as well as dining specials, and you can vote for the best burger and cocktail in Wellington. If you are into craft beer, you can also time this with the Beervana festival (12-13 August).

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Auckland Diner's Diary: May 2016

Central City Openings

European Inspiration

Cafes, Cakes and Bakes

Asian Eats

Fishy News



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lucky Lucky Dumplings' House of Varieties: Elements

Blink, and you would have missed it. A few days before the Open Streets K'Rd festival a couple of weeks ago, the Denizen unveiled an exclusive experiential degustation to celebrate the event, the first in a series of interactive dinners called House of Varieties. For one night only, Lucky Lucky Dumplings promised to blow our minds in a collaboration with the Las Vegas Club, combining molecular gastronomy with performances from The Dust Palace to bring us their take on the four classical elements - earth, water, air, and fire. The two sittings sold out almost straight away, and we felt lucky even to get into the 5pm slot, rather than the 7pm one we requested.

(By the way, if you are planning to go to one of the future shows, and are worried about spoiling the surprise, the organisers have assured me the dinners will be getting progressively more experiential and themed. They have even posted a video of some scenes from the evening. Read on at your own risk, though.)

Setting the Stage

As we headed up the stairs, featureless shadowy figures gyrated around us, caressing the banisters. We were taken to our table, which was within touching distance of a chair (or rather, a chair-shaped set of metal bars) and a hoop hanging from the ceiling. They weren't the only unusual items in he room though: on our table lay paintbrushes and a little pair of scissors.

While we waited for things to kick off, we grabbed some drinks from the bar. There was a variety of wines and beers available, but if you were after a cocktail, there was only one on offer on this particular night - a negroni on tap. Everything else would take too long to make, I guess.

Equipment in the middle of the dining area.

We were worried we wouldn't feel like eating so much earlier than our usual dinner time, but it was gettting to a more reasonable 5:30pm by the time the starters came out. These rose-shaped fried wonton skins were accompanied by a traffic light set of "paint" which seemed to be made from beetroot, pumpkin and avocado respectively, which explained the reason for the paintbrushes. It was hard to see their colours in the dim blue light though.

Wonton rose starter, with edible paint.


The first element began with hot water being poured into tall glass candleholders at each table. A tea ball floated into sight, then the accompanying aerial circus performance began, making use of the hanging chair. Towards the end of the energetic display, the artist tipped a canister of ice over herself, scattering bits all over the floor. It was particularly dramatic because of how close she was to the diners.

Tea on the table, ice on the floor.

By the time the act was over, our tea ball had blossomed into a floral chain. Waitstaff brought out wine glasses containing shrimps and a concentrated savoury soup, and told us to spoon some jasmine tea into the vessel. Not only was it novel and hands-on, but the dish was flavourful, and you could adjust its saltiness to your liking!

Blooming tea.
Shrimps in a glass.


Next up was the performance for earth, which took place on the little stage at the front of the room. A green being with horns and not much clothing showed off his strength and flexibility while balancing on a section of tree trunk.

Strength and flexibility on display.

At the same time, little pots with spinach, lettuce and parsley (the latter actually growing in soil) were put on our table. Someone poured in what was presumably liquid nitrogen, and suddenly the tabletop was covered with a swirling mist.

Fresh vegetables at the table, and swirling mist. 

After the display, we were given a cucumber salad, and told we could add to it by cutting greenery from the pot plants (ah, so that's what the scissors were for). The lettuce was a bit frozen at the bottom due to the liquid nitrogen, but the other two vegetables felt very fresh. We would have preferred the cucumber with just the fried shallots, soy sauce and chilli oil; although we didn't care for the coconut cream so much, it was useful for coating the leaves we threw into the dish.

Cucumber with chilli oil, fried shallots and coconut cream.


Yes, there was fire on stage. The lady with the burning torch did not flinch when she ran it up her arms, leaving a trail of little flames, but I got a bit worried for her when the fire neither extinguished in her mouth, nor when she tried to blow it out a couple of times.

Playing with fire.

I was expecting the main meal to be something cooked over a burner at the table, like those Chinese hotpot dishes, but I was wrong. What we got was a crispy duck leg on a bed of spring onion slices, served with the standard Peking duck accompaniments of steamed pancakes, cucumber and carrot sticks, and a sweet sauce. It was the least theatrical course of the evening, but it was also the most substantial and delicious.

Beautiful duck dish.

The vegetarian alternative of eggplant came with the same bottle of sauce, which it didn't need because it already had plenty of the stuff stirred through it.

Vegetarian eggplant alternative.


To the sound of howling wind, a waif-like creature now performed on the hoop hanging from the ceiling. She was very flexible, at one point arching her back so much that her foot touched her head. She was also incredibly strong, and was able to dangle from the apparatus without holding on, just balancing by the back of her neck!

Hanging by her neck.

In keeping with the theme, dessert came out with balloons hovering overhead. Staff then popped the balloons, which scattered rose petals over the table.

Dessert came with a balloon.

The roasted banana and caramel flavours of our final course were delightful, but as before, the coconut cream in the pudding lacked depth and we could have happily done without it.


It was fortunate that we ended up in the earlier sitting, as the next group had been waiting for over half an hour by the time we left, and there were still loiterers in the restaurant, as well as rose petals that needed to be cleaned up off the floor.

Diners waiting for the 7pm sitting.

All in all, we had a great evening, with good food and some outstanding entertainment. Other than the overuse of plain coconut cream (and the strange lack of dumplings), we were impressed by the creativity and quality of the dishes. I can't imagine what the next House of Varieties dinners will be like to top this. Kudos to all the organisers, performers, chefs and helpers involved!

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