Thursday, September 18

Food Review: Tankuki's Cave

Cuisine: Japanese/Yakitori
Price: $175 for eight bottles of beer, a dozen dishes and large sashimi set
Location: 319b Queen Street, Auckland

Tanuki's Cave is one of a trio of restaurants in the same family, the others being Kura and Tanuki Sushi & Sake Bar. Each one of them specialises in something different, with the Cave focusing on yakitori and kushiage in a casual dining environment. The restaurant is invitingly warm and bustling, which is especially appreciated when the weather outside is awful. Be mindful that Tanuki's is always busy, so you'll find it hard to be seated if you turn up with several friends. The seating is mostly positioned around the central bar, with only a few tables available. This is not fine dining, instead it’s the perfect environment to eat and be merry. The menu is centred around kushiage (bread crumbed, fried skewers) and yakitori (barbecued skewers). There are many options under the umbrella of seafood, meat and vegetables. For instance you can choose from squid, chicken mince balls, shitake mushrooms, fried cheese or one of dozens of other options. We ordered ten skewers, the large sushi platter, some dessert and plenty of beer.

The dishes were served irregularly, but mostly promptly. Portion sizes were pretty small when sharing between two people, but then most are reasonably priced. Just don’t go eating too many of the $8.80 scallop skewers! From the large choice of kushiage and yakitori our favourites were the kushiage pork belly, kushiage squid, yakitori scotch fillet and yakitori chicken skins. The kushiage pork belly coating was incredibly crunchy, and the tender juicy meat provided a fantastic contrast. The chicken skins were also fantastically fatty and crispy. Some of the skewers weren't quite as appetising, such as the bland mushroom and leek yakitori or the forgettable chicken mince balls.
The large sashimi platter was well portioned and lovingly decorated. For some inexplicable reason it wasn't served with pickled ginger, nor did they have any when we asked. Odd. The selection included king fish, tuna, salmon and a single prawn. The fish tasted fresh and was a great dish to share between two. Very enjoyable, though there are better places in Auckland for fish (like next door Kura).
We finished up our meal with some dessert; fried kumera balls and the nata jelly with ice cream. I love kumera, so this dessert was a slam dunk. The balls were coated in crispy almonds and went perfectly with the ice cream. The nata jelly drink was unusual. It was served in a glass with alcoholic soda (in my case peach), with a small amount of jelly and a scoop of ice cream. It was sort of like an ice cream soda, but a particularly bland one. The jelly didn't add anything and the soda wasn't tasty enough to carry the dish. I would rather have had a coke float.
Some of the dishes were bland such as the vegetables, but many of them tasted fantastic such as the kushiage or yakitori steak. Overall we were very satisfied and very filled by our meal!

The cosy Tanuki’s Cave provided the perfect back drop for a casual, yet well crafted, meal. Many of the dishes were mouth wateringly delicious, including the chicken skins and kushiage pork belly. Not everything was a hit though, such as the leek and mushroom yakitori, and discovering those perfect skewers might take a few visits. It was a warming experience and one best enjoyed with alcohol and friends.


Tuesday, September 9

Food Review: Neighbours Restaurant

Cuisine: Taiwanese
Price: <$15 a main
Location: 8 Lorne Street, Auckland
Website: NA

Neighbours is the type of restaurant which you could walk by a dozen times and never notice or visit. If this is you, then you've missed out! Neighbours is one of a few Taiwanese restaurants in Auckland, serving similar, but unique, food to a Chinese restaurant.

Entering the restaurant, you will not be wow'd by the decor, the ambience or the seating arrangements. In fact it’s all rather bland (and green), but you'll soon find it's the food that makes this place shine. In the corner of this basement restaurant are large pictures of food, with little cards hanging from hooks. This is your menu. You'll cast your eyes over dozens of sumptuous choices including fried meats, fish balls, soups, rice and desserts. When you are ready to order, you pick up the cards of the dishes you want and give it to the counter staff. Yes, it is completely weird and I still can't work out why, but it's all part of the charm of Neighbours. You'll also notice a giant vat of self serve green tea, which while certainly won't be the best you've tasted, is certainly appreciated.

Dishes are reasonably priced and the portions are extremely large. In some cases you may struggle to finish a single main! Everything I've tried on the menu has been enjoyable and there are a few dishes which were particularly delicious. The pork trotters are incredibly succulent, the meat falling off the bone and the rich broth perfect with rice. Dumplings are always a safe bet at Neighbours, available either dry or in soup. The braised beef soup is wonderful, with heaps of noodles, large chunks of meat and an unami rich broth. Neighbours also serves my favourite bubble tea in Auckland, which is neither too sweet or too bitter and comes in the perfect serving size. Every occasion I've visited Neighbours I've left with a full stomach and happy palette.

Don't go into Neighbours expecting fine dining. Instead expect tasty, hearty, generous food. It's the perfect place to bring friends and share a casual lunch.


Food Review: Farina

Cuisine: Italian
Price: $28 for pasta and dessert
Location: 244 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

Farina is one of the many inviting, upmarket restaurants lining Ponsonby Road. I've never been particularly ecstatic about Italian food, but I was happy to give this eatery a try with friends. We sat in the cramped restaurant with our helpful, though opinionated waiter, advising us. Farina specialises in pizza, which is obvious when looking at the large selection on the menu. There are many other dishes available, such as the typical pasta and anti pasti, as well as more unique options like the spiedini. 
We each decided to order a different pasta dish, I choosing the tagliatelle ragu of the day, which was tomato and duck. My friends ordered the gnocchetti and tagliatelle nero. I also ordered tiramisu for dessert.

When the dishes arrived they certainly looked appetising, but the taste left something to be desired and the portions were on the smaller side. I found my ragu rather bland and the sauce thin, with only the deliciously succulent duck standing out. My friends weren't impressed either, both the gnocchetti and tagliatelle nero failing to excite.

The tiramisu, however, was a treat. I'm a massive fan of this dessert, and it can be hard to find a well made tiramisu. The chocolate powder was rich, and the dish creamy while still maintaining lightness. After the mediocre main course, I was at least happy with this.

While there was nothing in particular wrong with Farina, very little of the experience excited us. The restaurant was cramped and we all felt unfilled by our meal. The only stand out for me was the tiramisu, but it wasn't worth going there for a single dessert. The experience was curtly summarised by us as "disappointing".


Saturday, September 6

Food Review: Il Buco

Cuisine: Pizza
Price: $5 a slice
Location: 113 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland (multiple locations)

Il Buco is a unique little establishment, with two locations in the city. The décor is minimalistic, clean and sharp. It is a nice little touch to the dining experience, separating it from other pizza chains, which look more like fast food joints. Il Buco primarily serves pizza, with an impressive selection of toppings. Each slice is $5 and they are cooked fresh, as opposed to reheated, within 10 minutes.

As mentioned Il Buco has an extensive selection of toppings, which easily number into the dozens. I usually find it hard to choose what I want to order, but no matter my choice, I'm always blown away by the taste. The pizza slices are non greasy, and the ingredients taste fresh and bold. A real stand out for me was the feta and spinach slice. I recommend coming here with a friend, so you can order and share  more of these delicious wee bites.

Il Buco serves up simple, fresh and great tasting pizza every time. If you are a bit bored of the greasy, reheated variety, go to Il Buco for a fresh take on pizza.


Thursday, September 4

Food Review: El Faro

Cuisine: Spanish tapas
Price: $150 for 7 dishes, sangria and sherry
Location: 39 Elliot Street, Auckland

El Faro is located in the comfy Elliot Stables, which is essentially an indoor upmarket food court. The restaurant itself is tiny, with minimal seating, however there is a large shared open space to sit. The Stables are lively during dinner, with live music a couple of times a week. While uplifting, this energetic atmosphere may not be best for a quiet date night.

El Faro had a special that night for four dishes and a litre of sangria. We started there and ordered an additional three dishes throughout the evening. One thing you should know by now is that tapas comes in small portions and it doesn't tend to be very filling. This is why we ended up ordering an additional three dishes, and even then we still weren't full. Tapas does not tend to be value for money!

The menu was diverse with many appetising options. The helpful waitress advised us on what to pick. We chose several meat dishes as well as a couple of vegetable dishes. The portions served were a good size for tapas and looked striking. The taste was also exceptional. It was clear that the ingredients were chosen and cooked with care, as their elegant simplicity shone through. The churros were the best I've tasted in Auckland. Incredibly crunchy with a rich, dark chocolate sauce to accompany. We finished up our meal with a glass of some of the finest sherry I've ever tasted. I even asked the waitress where they got the bottle from! Overall the meal was delicious, and we were exceptionally happy with the taste. 

El Faro serves delicious tapas, which is clearly cooked with love and passion. The staff were lovely and the experience was mesmerising. However we paid a steep price for this, and we still had room to eat more by the end.


Tuesday, September 2

Da Bestest Meal Ever

Went to The French Cafe last Friday. Easily one of the best meals I've ever eaten. A couple of dishes were so so, most were good, a few were great and a couple were amazing. Company was fantastic as well, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. Will post a review later in the week!

Tuesday, August 26

Food Review: Johnny Barr's

Cuisine: American bistro
Price: <$20 a main course
Location: 12 Jellicoe Street, Auckland

Johnny Barr’s is one of the many clean, upmarket restaurants which line Auckland’s Viaduct. Walking past these restaurants I didn't expect much, my impression being style over substance. Johnny Barr’s almost proved me wrong, serving mostly delicious fare. Reading the menu, I came across many tantalising options including chicken waffles and cheese steak sandwiches. I hadn't eaten fish and chips in a long time, so I ordered that and the cheese cake. My friends also ordered some of the restaurant’s speciality ‘thickshakes’.

My first dining experience at Johnny’s started off poorly when the food took over 20 minutes to arrive. When the food actually came I was impressed by the clean presentation, which made for some great looking photos! I was finally able to dig in!

Monday, August 25

An End To Drinking? An End To Drinking!

It was a typical Saturday night. Had dinner with friends, came back to mine to drink. The night ended with me hurting some people close to me. Going forward it’s really simple; no more drinking in the flat. This has been a long time coming but I need to give up drinking before I end up hurting others again.

Friday, August 22

Food Review: Aoyama

Cuisine: Japanese
Price: $1 per sushi piece, $14 for ramen
Location: 2/4 Orbit Drive, Albany, Auckland
Website: NA

Not ramen ho!

Aoyama is one of the many Japanese 'restaurants' that litter Auckland. The vast majority of which are the equivalent of McDonald's, serving deceptively soulless, mechanical and profit driven food. I wasn't expecting much from Aoyama, and that was entirely the correct attitude. The large selection of sushi was poorly crafted and mostly the disgusting Western variety. I ordered a few pieces of the more traditional options including teka nigiri, it was inoffensively ordinary and nothing more. I also ordered the spicy seafood ramen, there being no option for proper ramen. The bowl came with a nice diversity of sea food, including mussels and scallops, though they were over cooked and tasted like they were recently frozen. The broth was completely bland and I had to season it with soy sauce to make it edible. The only real upside was that it was a large serving and I was stuffed after finishing the bowl.

Aoyama is yet another soulless Japanese restaurant, which offers a poor imitation of real Japanese food. The slight upside is that the food isn't appalling and it does come in large quantities. You could do a lot worse, but then you could do a hell of a lot better.


Thursday, August 21

The Flatmate Dilemma

I'd like to think of myself as a decisive person, one who doesn't dabble in mediocrity. I'd like to think that if I have a problem, I sort it and fast. However ever since I moved to Auckland I've faced a dilemma I haven't yet solved. I'm living in a three bedroom, two bathroom flat with two male flat mates. It’s liveable but it’s not perfect, nor are my flat mates. On one hand the rent is fantastic; $180 per week for 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms in Auckland city. I know people who are sharing with 7 people who are paying similar rent. One of my flat mates is really cool, the other one is all right. The location is reasonable; half an hour walk to Britomart and 5 minutes from Ponsonby. On the down side the flat is incredibly drab and borderline ugly. My flat mates, while pleasant enough, still retain an adolescent male mentality were dirt and grime accumulation is okay.

For instance this morning I found the bathroom sink filled with burned fatty flakes from a frying pan. Often the stove tops and wall are covered in grease splatters. So far they've done their part when I ask them to help clean, but rarely do they do it of their own accord. I hate the idea of having to mother people, especially grown men. I'm pretty anal about cleanliness (thanks to my mum and sisters), which I actually really appreciate because it means my space is usually very presentable, hygienic and tidy. The other problem I've found is my flat mates also seem quite happy to living in dilapidation. The living room is essentially bare with only broken chairs, a mouldy sofa and one ironing board. There is no colour, vibrancy or life. One of my friends has also encouraged me to move out, saying I can do better in terms of location and flat mates. Further fuelling my desire for change is recent exposure to what our place could look like. The other day I visited neighbours who live in the same apartment complex, and saw a much more welcoming and impressive living space. They actually had a dining table!

The dilemma is this: Do I stay in mediocre accommodation, with dirty flat mates and good rent or do I move to nicer accommodation, take the risk with new flat mates and ultimately pay more?

For now I'm encouraging my flat mates to be cleaner and to spruce up the accommodation, so we’ll see how that goes. Either way for now I am staying put until my work visa comes through. If I get a work visa then I can re-examine this issue. If I don't then I'll stay put, since there is no point in paying significantly more rent when I will be leaving within a year.

Wednesday, August 13

Always Look...Smell Your Best

Recently my eczema has been really bad, to the point that my entire body is dry and itchy. Last night I had a particularly bad spell, where I scratched all over. As a result I decided not to shower, wanting to avoid the physical pain that the water would bring to my wounds and to stop my skin drying out further.
So the next morning I gave myself a wet wipe clean around the major areas, to make sure I didn't smell too bad, ultimately not worried since I'm mainly surrounded by guys and rarely in close proximity to them. I figured I could get away with not showering for two days. Then the day took an unusual turn. 

First I had a meeting in a crowded room. Then I had to leave that meeting in close proximity to other people. Then one of the only two attractive girls in the office, came and talked to me for the first time.

At least I would have made a strong first impression on her.


Friday, August 8

Not A Food Review: Velvet Burger and Mad Mex

Not A Food Review is an informal first impression of a restaurant I've eaten at, in which I did not taste enough of the dishes to form a definitive opinion of the establishment.

I popped into both restaurants over the last few weeks. Each location was chosen by a different friend, one was much better than the other. Read on to find out which!

Velvet Burger
Cuisine: Burgers (American Diner)
Price: $17 for burger and hash browns
Location: 18 Fort Street, Auckland

Velvet Burger is yet another burger and diner style restaurant. The menu is primarily burger based, with a few other diner style options. I went for the namesake; The Velvet Burger, with hash browns on the side. The food was served within 10 minutes and I was treated to a large burger and a suitable bowl of hash brownies. The burger patty was a thick slab of venison with salad and a delicious sauce, which seemed to be composed of yoghurt and chilli. It was perfectly spicy, stimulating my taste buds, with the patty providing a satisfying juicy bite. The hash browns were over salted and became soggy pretty quickly. My friend’s kumera fries where crunchy on the outside and soft inside, a delicious combination. Next time I think I’ll stick with wedges or fries.

Velvet burger served up a great burger, with some mediocre hash browns. As far as burger joints go, Velvet Burger will treat you right. However it may be hard to justify going there, when better options exist nearby such as Burger Fuel and Burger Burger.


Mad Mex
Cuisine: Mexican (Tex Mex)
Price: $12 for a burrito
Location: 16 Fort Street, Auckland

Mad Mex menu consists of the usual ‘Mexican’ staples such as burritos, nachos and quesadillas. Don’t expect anything unique or authentic from the menu. Unimpressed, I ordered a simple beef burrito with beans and the hottest sauce they had. The burrito was served room temperature, which was ridiculous. It was pretty big, so in that sense it was satisfying. However the burrito was under heated, under seasoned and completely bland. Despite ordering the hottest sauce, it was pretty mild. I found myself pouring on extra hot sauce just to give it some flavour. My friends dishes didn’t look any better.

Mad Mex is yet another bland and uninspired Mexican conveyor belt, serving food only fit for those who like imitations of actual food. It’s like McDonalds with a veneer of class.


Thursday, August 7

Missing Pieces

I'm reading Haruki Murakami’s book Kafka On The Shore. It’s a captivating and bloody weird book. One part in particular draws my attention. In it our 15 year old antagonist (Kafka) sees the ‘ghost’ of a 15 year old girl and falls in love. He finds the spirit of this girl in a 50 year old lady. The ‘ghost’ is in fact the 15 year old version of this older woman. Kafka is able to form a short, intense, messed up relationship with this lady. Whatever it is, it’s love. Why does this series of events captivate me?

Kafka is able to find ‘true’ love, find a girl whom he treasures, a girl who makes him both nervous and joyous at the sight of her. Although this is a novel, and fiction often idealises various concepts and themes, I find my life lacking in ‘love’ and Kafka On The Shore only illuminated this fact. You see while I have no problem finding dates, or women to talk to, I've never felt any real connection to them. In a woman I implicitly want a sense of humour, good looks, intelligence, a love of food, is physically active, travelled, passionate and is emotionally stable. The majority of women don’t have these traits. The majority of women are complete bores. Despite my apparent high standards, there was one exception, my ex from Singapore who I dated for about a year.

She met many of my implicit criteria, but she had noticeable flaws. For instance she was deeply religious, yet ignorant of many religious themes. She couldn't accept that her job was making her miserable, and that she should move on to something that made her happy. I broke up with her because I was in New Zealand, and her Singapore, and long distance relationships don’t work. Despite these incompatibilities, and the uncertainty of our suitability long term, I loved her with all my heart. It didn't make sense to me on any level, yet there it was, she was the only girl I've ever loved. I still think of her a lot, and until recently made a concerted effort to regularly talk to her and try to be part of her life. For now I've given up on communicating with her, because it was a one sided exchange.

Saturday, August 2

Food Review: Le Garde Manger

Cuisine: French
Price: $50 for 3 courses
Location: 446 Queen Sreet, Auckland

Le Garde Manger is one of a few French restaurants in Auckland, and I’d heard it offered authentic grub at a reasonable price. I hadn't tasted quality French food in far too long, so I was immediately tantalised by the promise of a great meal that wouldn't break your wallet. The restaurant is situated on Upper Queen Street and looks very unassuming, I’d walked past it dozens of times without realising it existed. The décor is somewhat rustic but inviting, with warm colours and cosy seating. We had booked a table for 8:30 pm, but it wasn't ready until almost 9 pm. Adding more salt to the wound was the waiter leading us out to the freezing cold back patio of the restaurant, to wait for our table. Some of our friends who arrived later, stayed in the restaurant where the waiter encouraged them to wait outside as well. They sensibly ignored him. After what seemed like a long wait, we were finally told our table was ready.

We sat in the toasty restaurant and opened up the menu. La Garde Manger offers a concise, yet diverse, range of dishes. There were plenty of French specialities such as tartiflette, coq au vin, Kir and les galettes. The authenticity of the ingredients further enthralled me. Many of them are imported from France, such as the cheeses and wines. My appetite began to grow as I imagine biting into some reblochon. For dinner I chose the French onion soup to start, tartiflette as a main and for dessert the crepe William.

Les galettes au hand.

Friday, August 1

New Zealand: Home Of The Mutts

Just a interesting observation I've made. In countries like the US and UK, the population is predominantly mono race, with under 5% (in some cases under 2%) of the population identifying as mixed race. In other words it's rare to meet somebody who is of mixed ethnicity. The same can't be said of New Zealand.

The indigenous population, the Maori's, are now almost exclusively mixed with Europeans. There are apparently no pure blood Maori's any more. It's also extremely common to meet phenotypically (i.e. they look) white Kiwis who are part Moari. The other day I met a tall, blue eyed, white, blonde haired Kiwi who I assumed was Nordic. He grandfather was Maori.

I didn't really notice it at first, but nobody here seems particularly surprised when they find out I'm Euroasian. This is in contrast to most other countries where being mixed makes me somewhat of an odd curiosity. I just realised the centuries of racial intermixing in New Zealand is probably why nobody bats an eyelid at me. I also haven't seen any real racism here, it's perhaps the least racist country I've ever been in. Yay for a country that's not racist, without being a bunch of over-sensitive twats!

Tuesday, July 8

Not A Food Review: Everybody's

Cuisine: Japanese Fusion
Price: $70 for set menu
Location: 44 Queen Street, Auckland

Not A Food Review is an informal first impression of a restaurant I've eaten at, in which I did not taste enough of the dishes to form a definitive opinion of the establishment.

Everybody’s (also known as Everybody’s Izakaya) recently refreshed their menu. Previously offering Japanese fusion, their latest menu has a heavier slant towards European and Western flavours. The décor is rather minimalistic with the low lighting projecting a casual, yet refined atmosphere. I arrived at Everybody’s with a vegetarian friend. The set menu looked appetising, so we ordered it for two people and challenged the chefs to use only vegetarian ingredients. What followed was an incredibly boring experience.

Yay bland baba ghanoush!

Half a dozen courses were served, most of which were cold or warm. Vegetables comprised the bulk of each plate with minimal dairy, grain or eggs.  Disappointingly almost all of the dishes were bland, under seasoned and boring. What was truly baffling was that if I cook some bok choi with soy sauce, sesame oil and light spicing, I can create a delicious vegetarian dish. How is it a kitchen of full time chefs, with dozens of ingredients, could fail to create a memorable vegetarian meal? I will say that the presentation was excellent, and there was a discernable effort made to use several ingredients per dish. As a result there was a variety of textures from the different vegetables. Perhaps the only enjoyable savoury plate was a potato heavy, creamy dish. The potatoes were fantastically crisp and the cream added a nice silky texture, which contrasted fantastically. The only true high point of the meal came at the end, in the form of a delicious chocolate lava cake. It was indulgent and we utterly enjoyed it.

At least the kale and potatoes were crispy, can't say much about the mustard seed bed.

At Everybody’s we gave the chefs a tall challenge, and it’s one they failed almost entirely. The dishes were typically bland, cold and under seasoned. The only saving grace was the excellent dessert. I will not be back to Everybody’s in a hurry, even if the meal included meat.


All Bark, No Bite

It started out like any drinking night. Clean the flat, buy booze, welcome people and socialise. We played drinking games; Ring of Fire (called Kings Cup or Circle of Death elsewhere in the world). I couldn’t recall all the rules, so I had to ad lib. We drew cards, we got drunk, then I lost. I drunk a mug full of soju, wine, whiskey and coke as the penalty for losing. After that I remember nothing.

I woke up in the morning, my teeth felt strange. I got up, and winced at the pain in my knee. I hobbled to the bathroom mirror and opened my mouth. A gap tooth monster started back at me. My central incisor was half gone, and the other one chipped. My mouth was bloody and my lip swollen.  I couldn’t remember a thing. I Skyped my parents and swore profusely about my lack of teeth.

When my flat mate woke up I ran to him and asked what happen. He didn’t know. Apparently I got into a fight. I could believe that, I’d been in fights before, but my wounds didn’t add up. I concluded that I must have face planted the payment and destroyed my teeth.

I arranged a dentist appointment for that afternoon. I arrived and chatted with the friendly dentist and technician. I was still partially drunk, so was extremely talkative and had the ladies cooing. 2 hours later and $200 poorer my teeth were fixed, and looked fantastic. Who knew that cosmetic dentistry was so easy and cheap?

I still feel slightly sentimental at the loss of my own beautiful teeth, but I can’t turn back time and get them back. So I might as well get on with life.

Maybe next time I won’t drink as much.
Maybe next time I won’t drink on an empty stomach.
Maybe next time I won’t lose Ring of Fire.

Saturday, June 21

Food Review: Better Burger

Cuisine: Burgers
Price: $14.50 for burger, fries and milkshake
Location: 31 Galway Street, Britomart, Auckland

Better Burger is a newly opened premium burger joint in Auckland’s CBD. After a cold, wet and windy Tuesday morning I checked it out. The seating was open air which, while great in more pleasant weather, was noticeably chilly on this particular day. Thankfully they had flame heaters, which provided some warm. Better Burger’s menu is extremely simple, with beef or vegetarian burgers, fries, soda and milkshakes on offer. I ordered the double cheeseburger, with fries and strawberry milkshake, and an additional vegetable burger. The staff were extremely friendly and happy to explain their philosophy behind the eatery. All of the produce is carefully picked, and cooked with care. For instance the buns contain honey, as opposed to sugar, for a fuller flavour. 

Much like the menu, the presentation of the food was simple but clean. I couldn't wait to get stuck in! The beef patties were thick and perfectly seasoned, the vegetables crisp and the rich cheese adding to every bite. Each mouthful was juicy, delicious and morish. The doubled fried fries were fantastically crispy, while still retaining a light and fluffy centre. To top off this delightful meal was the strawberry milkshake. Thick and luscious, it was like drinking ice cream. Heaven! The vegetarian burger featured a fried Portobello mushroom, which had a fantastic savoury flavour. 

Better Burgers concise menu doesn't provide a lot of choice. However what they do serve is incredibly delicious and good value. The beef burgers are cooked to perfection and the fries are crispy pieces of heaven. I will absolutely be back for more.


Monday, June 9

Just Dance

I remember back when I was in Glasgow, hanging out at a bar and being handed a flier for salsa classes. I used to find dancing an uncomfortable and awkward experience, in clubs I would simply head bop. Here was an opportunity to test the limits of my comfort, try something new and get better at dancing. That's how I ended up at my first salsa class.

I felt very uncomfortable in my first lesson, with me being so reserved at the time. Touching girls was a bit weird, the moves were hard and I felt like I was being judged. Despite this, after the first class I realised I was hooked. Dancing was surprisingly fun! So I went back, and even took lessons twice a week. After a few months I was somewhat competent at salsa and would enjoy myself immensely. Part of the charm was undoubtedly talking to the girls, many of whom were cute. I also found that salsa would dispel a sour mood and leave me over flowing with positive energy. If you had told me that I would enjoy, and become an okay salsa dancer, I would have thought you crazy. Salsa also helped me to become less self concious, to the point I really started to enjoy dancing in clubs. Then things changed. I graduated, left Glasgow and didn't continue with salsa in Singapore. Now, more than a year later, I started salsa in New Zealand.

There are several options in the city but calling out to me was a Latin American dancing school, literally, opposite home. So I signed up for a class and went for the first time last week.

I forgot how fucking amazing dancing is.

It felt like I rediscovered something I had lost. I was actually terrible at the dancing since the class was teaching LA salsa (as opposed to Cuban which I learnt in Glasgow), but it didn't matter. Even when I was screwing up the moves I still had a great time and was so happy for hours afterwards. I'm definitely going to make salsa part of my life. I just need to find the right school now!

Saturday, June 7

I'll Be There For You, When The Rain Starts To Pour

I've only been in New Zealand a short while, but I can say I've been very lucky in one regard; the amount of friends I've made. Perhaps it's because I've done my best to be proactive and friendly, I always try to be a genuine person, but in a way I've been taken by surprise in how fortunate I am. So far I've made enough friends that I could see one a day, or even groups, and still not have time enough for all of them. More importantly these are all people I sincerely like and enjoy spending time with. Sadly some of them will be leaving the country soon, but I still feel blessed for these relationships.