Prawn shao-mai
Sunny Town
Beef noodles

We find out what all the fuss is about at Lorne St’s Sunny Town

During a recent lunch break I took a stroll through Auckland’s CBD and while wandering along Lorne St I passed Sunny Town. When this eatery first opened in 2018, the queue was too long for my impatient tendencies and I never quite made it through the door. Fast forward to today and there’s still a long line of customers willing to wait for a table at Sunny Town, which told me that for the hype to continue, there must be something pretty special about this place. My interest was piqued all over again, and this time, I wasn’t going to let a line deter me.

Sunny Town

I returned the following day with my Denizen foodie confidant Clara. We strategically decided to go at 1:30pm, after the lunch rush, and were still greeted with a long line of customers. Thankfully Sunny Town runs a fast-paced operation, where people simply eat and exit as soon as they’re done. Diners order at the counter, and by the time they take a seat, the food arrives in almost an instant. The menu is categorised into three sections — Noodles and Wontons, Buns and Porridge, and Drinks making the ordering an easy task.

What we ordered:
– Sauced pork buns
– Vegetable buns
– Prawn shao-mai
– Dandan noodles
– Beef noodles

Watching the chefs kneading, rolling and filling the buns while we waited for a table put our expectations high, and when the buns eventually arrived at our table, they didn’t disappoint. With a pillowy-soft texture that I attributed to the fact that they are rolled, filled and steamed to order — a rarity in this town — the sauced pork buns were so soft and saucy, they reminded me of a meat pie, a very very good one. Not to be outshone, the vegetable buns were filled with vibrant greens and boasted a fresh and earthy flavour that was also utterly delicious.

Sauced pork bun

At Denizen, we love dumplings of all shapes and types, from gyoza to Italian ravioli and now Sunny Town’s prawn shao-mai is also firmly on our list of favourites. The skin of the shao-mai was thin with a gentle chewiness but it was the filling that stole the show for us. An unbelievably juicy pork mince with a plump prawn, it was almost like a xialongbao and we could have easily consumed a dozen more.

The dandan noodles were a feast for the eyes. A deep bowl was filled with chilli oil and pork mince that had been infused into a soup and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Unlike most of the dandan noodles I’ve had in the past which left me feeling heavy and with a numbed tongue (which I love), this one was more refined, stripped back and clean-tasting. The soup included Sichuan peppercorns which Sunny Town actually imports from the Sichuan province in China and despite having the numbing effect I was expecting, were not overwhelmingly spicy. Surprisingly, the beef noodles were our favourite out of the two noodle dishes. The broth was comforting yet flavourful while the chunks of beef were tender — the perfect meal for when you’re feeling under the weather.

Dandan noodles

I was admittedly quite dubious about Sunny Town before this experience. The combination of its modern and spotless fit-out, food that was ready to serve in a questionably short amount of time and the fact that it’s a franchise in China had me second-guessing its authenticity and integrity. However, the flavours of each dish speak otherwise. It’s simple things like the fact that the broths for the noodles are prepared in large quantities in the morning so that they gain more flavour as they brew, and the dumplings and buns are made fresh to order all day, every day by hand. Sunny Town is ultimately reshaping people’s perceptions of Chinese food, proving that authenticity doesn’t have to be served in a rustic restaurant that’s located on Dominion Road. I for one will be returning very soon.

Opening hours:
Monday — Saturday: 10:30am until 8:30pm
Sunday: 10:30am until 3pm

Sunny Town

10-14 Lorne Street
Auckland CBD

www.sunnytown.co.nz

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How to nail the barely-there sandal trend everyone is wearing this spring

Remember when dad sneakers were the footwear everyone was touting? Big, chunky shoes with various add-ons and logos you could see coming from a mile away?

Now, it seems that fashion has (as fashion tends to do) swung in the opposite direction, with members of the style set wearing shoes that are decidedly less obnoxious (to the relief of those for whom the dad sneaker was a bridge too far). This is heralding the rise of what people seem to be calling the ‘barely-there’ or ‘naked’ sandal — and honestly, it feels like a more elegant approach to the season.

This sandal is characterised by what isn’t there. Made with thin, understated straps that have been used sparingly so that the shoe stays on without any unnecessary fuss, these sandals are designed to flatter the wearer and nothing more.

The antithesis of loud fashion, the barely-there sandal has arrived at a time when the idea of curating and building on a refined wardrobe of timeless, versatile pieces is far more important than owning the latest ‘it’ thing. It speaks to a more quiet, contemplative approach. One that in our growing awareness of the waste around the industry, feels appropriate for now.

That said, finding the kind of shoe we’re talking about can be a task. Lucky then that lauded Parisian label IRO Paris has released a style that suits perfectly, and it’s just landed at Superette International.

Left: IRO Paris Anaco heel | Right: IRO Paris Fixa heel
both from Superette International

Superette International

8 Kent Street
Newmarket

(09) 360 2363

www.superette.co.nz/international

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Why Christofle’s new tray is set to fulfil all our hosting needs ahead of party season

The art of entertaining has become a far more laid back affair. Dining out has become more about share plates and where hosting guests at home no longer requires a three-course meal, it has become more about the food fitting seamlessly around the flow of conversation.

When it comes to the etiquette around entertaining then, ease has usurped formality and even historic houses like Christofle are ensuring their offering reflects this change in mood.

Enter the Christofle MOOD Party tray — an extension of the iconic MOOD collection, but a centrepiece that acknowledges the changing manners. Anchored by the classic luxury of the French brand this polished steel tray boasts six compartments of varying sizes made from Limoges porcelain and both a central, circular compartment and presentation board made from walnut.

The beauty of this tray, especially for longtime fans of Christofle, is that the middle has been designed to fit the brand’s MOOD Party set, a 24-piece silver-plated cutlery set that includes butter knives, small spoons, cocktail picks and two-tine forks. It’s a detail that will add a luxurious dimension to this tray in its role as a culinary centrepiece.

The perfect way to serve nibbles whether for a brunch, cocktail party, or pre-dinner snack, Christofle’s MOOD Party tray is embracing our more casual dining habits albeit in an elevated way, so that while formality might be waning, taste never is.

Christofle’s MOOD Party tray is available locally from The Studio of Tableware. For more information, click here.

The Studio of Tableware

5 Harold St
Mount Eden
Auckland

(09) 638 8082

www.thestudio.co.nz

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Redeem

This healthy soda might be the best thing to happen since the rise of kombucha

Meet Redeem, the soda brand created by the team behind The Collective, the premium dairy company renowned for the unique yoghurts it creates by collaborating with chefs like Al Brown. Redeem is redefining soda with its new range of kefir soda that comes in four different flavours — Natural Ginger, Charcola, Mandarin Yuzu and Raspberry Hibiscus.

For those of you unfamiliar with what kefir soda is, listen up, as it’s about to become the hottest beverage around. Each bottle of Redeem’s Kefir Soda contains less than a teaspoon of sugar and has been created through a process of fermentation that means it is rich in probiotics. Redeem ferments and brews kefir cultures (a particular SCOBY comprising over 30 different probiotic culture strains) with natural, certified organic ingredients such as aromatic ginger, sweet raisins and zesty lemon, to create its delicious flavours. It may sound similar to kombucha, but Redeem’s Kefir Soda is rising above the other fermented drinks on the market for its particularly low sugar content and inclusion of a more diverse range of probiotic strains.

And while this drink is undeniably good for the body, it’s also working to benefit the world. Redeem has gone beyond just employing sustainable packing and has opted to take part in the One Percent for the Planet initiative. This sees one percent of all sales made by the company donated to ‘Trees that Count’ in order to support the planting of native trees in New Zealand. More trees means increased biodiversity, cleaner waterways and improved air quality, and at a time when climate and the environment could not be more important, it’s a worthy cause indeed.

Redeem Kefir Soda is available in selected stores and cafes. For more information, click here.

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Farewelling his signature eclecticism, Alessandro Michele changes the game at Gucci, again

Fashion is notoriously fickle but there are some things we have come to expect. Seeing a line-up of outrageous, eclectic looks at Gucci’s show in Milan is one. The incredibly unique (incredibly popular) world that the house’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele has created, even has its own terminology — where pieces featuring detailed appliqués, over-the-top bedazzling and detailing that toys with the idea of ugliness in a bold but not unappealing way have all come to be referred to as “Guccified”. It has carved out a particularly profitable niche for the brand, with Michele’s vision drawing in a raft of new fans over the last few years and the house’s show at Milan Fashion Week guaranteed to be one of the more fascinating fixtures of the fashion month calendar.

But last night, Gucci presented a collection for Spring/Summer 2020 that seemed to wave farewell to the outrageous aesthetic that anchored its predecessors. And while we were certainly taken off guard, it felt the right time for Michele to switch things up.

Underscoring the whole presentation, was this idea of a clean slate. From the sterile, moving runway illuminated by bright fluorescents to the opening series of monochromatic looks that felt like they’d come out of some kind of asylum (like white tops clearly inspired by straight jackets), Michele seemed to be making a symbolic break from the old before he sent his new-look collection down the runway. It was a palette cleanser of sorts, a neutral prologue that foreshadowed change.

From tailored suiting to pencil skirts to sheer, peignoir-inspired pieces, Gucci’s Spring 2020 asked how ideas of sensuality and contemporary practicality could coexist in the modern wardrobe. Where most looks felt altogether appropriate for the workplace, there were nods to the show’s title, “Orgasmique” in leather detailing, plunging necklines and cheeky accessories like the chunky chains on the sunglasses and the whips some of the models were carrying. The difference here was that the accessories felt quirky without being polarising, and the definitive DNA of Gucci was present but subdued.

Because despite the fact that the looks themselves indicated a clear change of pace for the house, Alessandro Michele is (and always will be) provocative. The opening sequence was bold and the collection still served up surprises while feeling immediately wearable. In all, it seemed to be a timely maturation for the brand and indicated a promising step forward. These were some of our favourite looks…

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Photo by Tim D

We chat with legendary wordsmith Dominic Hoey ahead of the release of his new poetry book

We’ve long been fans of Dominic Hoey. Also known under the moniker Tourettes, Hoey is an artist who has tried his hand at nearly all forms of creative expression, and with four critically acclaimed rap albums, a debut novel longlisted for the 2018 Ockham NZ Book Awards, two well-received books of poetry and an applauded one-man play under his belt, it’s clear that anything Hoey touches turns to artistic gold. Now, Hoey is piquing our attention once again with his latest creation — his third poetry book. Here, we sit down with the lyrical mastermind to learn more about what we can expect from I Thought We’d Be Famous.

First things first, tell us about I Thought We’d Be Famous. What can we expect?
I Thought We’d Be Famous is my new poetry book. It’s about Channing Tatum and Edward Furlong and Chilli the Pomeranian and the teacher who beat us half to death and killing your landlord and sleeping with zombies and falling in love so hard you wake up concussed.

Okay… sounds interesting. Is there an overarching theme?
There’s a bunch of themes running through the book, but I guess the main ones are love, living with a disease and politics.

We hear you’ve been working on it for quite some time, how long exactly?
I’ve spent about five years chipping away at it. I was planning on releasing it in 2017 before my novel, Iceland, but the publishers came to me with a date, and then I did a one-person show, and the next thing I know its 2019. I’m glad I waited though. I feel like it’s a much more solid book now.

If we only had the time to read three poems from the book, which would you suggest?
I have a love poem to Channing Tatum called Sex Army that I really like, there’s a poem called Kill Your Landlord which is always a hit live, and a poem about my rescue Pomeranian, Prince Chilli, and how morons yell at me in the street for having a ‘gay dog’.

Okay, moving on from ITWBF. How did you first get into writing?
I was always really into words but I’m dyslexic, so the idea that I would become a writer seemed a bit silly. I started rapping around nine or 10-years-old with my best friend Danny. We had a poetry competition at my school when I was 12 and I won. I think that was the first time anyone showed me attention at school, apart from yelling at me, so it was a moment that really stuck.

You’ve been writing, rapping and poetry-making for the best part of your life, how do you think your writing style has evolved over the years, if at all?
I think my style just keeps getting simpler and more childlike in a way. I try and get rid of everything that doesn’t need to be there. When I was younger, I think I was self-conscious about being dyslexic and not really having an education, so I’d overcompensate in my work. But now I embrace all of that and make it part of my style.

You’ve dabbled in rap, poetry, acting, documentary making and playwriting, which do you prefer?
I probably prefer poetry. Its the art form I get to do the least because it makes the least money. But I love being on stage and connecting with people with only a mic and some words.

What inspired you to make the transition from rap to poetry? Was it an easy transition?
I’ve always done poetry, even when my music was going good I did poetry at my rap shows. But even six or so years ago people’s perception of poetry was very different from what it is now. Although I love that I’m not making music anymore! The music industry is filled with the worst kind of people you can imagine.

What do you think it takes to be a great wordsmith?
I think having your own style is a big one. Trusting yourself. And also learning to kill your darlings.

When do you feel at your most creative?
I usually write late at night and edit in the day. I wish I was one of those people that can get up and create in the day time, but its just not in me.

What do you do in your spare time?
I hang out with Prince Chilli, I mentor rangatahi through the Atawhai program, I run writing workshops, and I walk aimlessly through the first out by my place in Laingholm.

Are there any up and coming rappers, poets, or musicians in general that you’ve got your eye on at the moment? Who are you listening to right now?
There are so many talented rappers and poets in this country. Eno and Dirty have just dropped an album which is really cool, there are a few Auckland poets who are about to do bigs things, too — Ria Masae, Liam Jacobson and Vanessa Croftskey are who your readers should be checking out. Also, one of the rangatahi I mentor, Queen Stel, is blowing up at the moment and is an incredible poet.

What are you working on right now, is there anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’m writing a new one-person show about class, money and art called 45 Cents An Hour. I also have a new novel that my agent is shopping around.

What’s in the future for Dominic Hoey, both personally and professionally?
Prince Chilli just got a hair cut so I’m planning to take him out to show off. I’m also going to do a residency on Malcolm Island off Vancouver next year.

I Thought We’d Be Famous is available for preorder here, via Dead Bird Books.

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Recipe: these spicy BBQ prawn tacos are perfect for every night of the week

Taco Tuesday isn’t actually a thing. We firmly believe they should be devoured no matter the day, preferably more often than not. This is a beautifully, tangy and citrusy prawn taco recipe, which is super simple to make — especially if you have guests coming over. 

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 tsp Sriracha, divided
4 tsp Lillie’s Q Hot Smoky BBQ Sauce, divided

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag frozen prawns, peeled with tails removed
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
2 limes
Pinch of Himalayan salt flakes
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1/4 cup coriander, freshly chopped
1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
8 corn tortillas

Method
1.
Stir together 2 teaspoons of Sriracha, 2 teaspoons Lillie’s Q Hot Smoky BBQ sauce, soy sauce and minced garlic in a large bowl. Then add prawns and mix until well coated before setting aside to marinate.
2. In a Ziploc bag, add sour cream, the remaining 2 teaspoons of Sriracha and Lillie’s Q Hot Smoky BBQ sauce before closing the bag and keeping in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sesame oil, honey and the zest and juice of one lime with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the cabbage and coriander and lightly toss, then set aside.
4. Pour extra virgin olive oil into a large pan on medium to high heat. Add the prawns and marinade and lightly pan fry until caramelised, then flip. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until firm before transferring onto a plate. (The extra marinade can be poured over the tacos at the end).
5. In a separate, dry pan place the tortillas on medium heat. Once warm, transfer to a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.
6. Assemble the tacos with a handful of cabbage slaw and a few pieces of shrimp. Snip a corner off the Ziploc bag and drizzle the tacos with the Sriracha-sour cream sauce. Garnish with a wedge of lime and serve immediately.

Adapted recipe by Judy Kim.

Image credit: Judy Kim

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Prada offered a change of pace as it kicked off Milan Fashion Week in style

Miuccia Prada has become known for creating bold collections that build on a foundation of controlled eccentricity. Who could forget the flaming wedge-heels? Or the oversized hats of Resort ’19? Or the brazen Alice bands that became the cult piece for a while? In short, Prada can usually be relied on to deliver pieces that make us say ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah,’ and marvel at the brand’s ability to tread the line between elegance and gaucheness with expert precision.

But for Spring 2020, it would seem Prada is shifting the focus from creating clothes that make their own, autonomous statement to offer pieces that instead, allow the wearer to take centre stage.

Of course, the collection carried the inherent DNA of Prada in its characteristic attention to detail. The set offered a colourful, geometric melange of orange paint, gold foiling and modern mosaic tiling, while the clothes themselves featured pops of pattern, embroidery and moments of luminescence. But beyond that, the collection felt immediately wearable. Fine, knit pieces met elegant, tailored blazers and below-the-knee skirts. It was almost an ode to the office worker, were it not for the line-up of floppy bucket hats that we’re naming a major early contender for street-style infamy in the seasons to come.

See our favourite looks below…

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This adorable new grocer is bringing plastic-free shopping to Birkenhead

In light of the increasing concern over plastic and waste many stores are not only reducing the amount of food and product packaging that they stock, but they are eliminating disposable packaging altogether. One such trailblazer who is paving the way for a more sustainable future is Hannah Paterson, with her new, plastic-free grocery store Sprout the Grocer.

Rustic and welcoming, Sprout The Grocer makes an alluring retail addition to the streets of Birkenhead. Inside, soft-hued flower arrangements adorn the space, neat little jars line the shelves — packed with bright legumes, rice, spices, flours and cereals — filled-to-the-brim refillery stations are stocked with everything from almonds to cleaning products, and household essentials pepper the aisles, a keep cup here — a bamboo toothbrush there. Rotating recipes — think bliss balls and sauerkraut — can be found scrawled across the chalkboard, recipes which the undeniably warm and welcoming staff are always happy to discuss — they have a love and knowledge of food and health that extends to far more than just the shopping list. It is a space where shoppers are, of course, encouraged to bring their own containers, but if you have nothing on hand don’t fret — there are plenty of paper bags and jars to purchase.

The store has only been up and running for a month, but it has been warmly received by the community and has already cemented itself firmly in the hearts of Birkenhead locals. The community, it seems, is eager to engage with the concept of reducing waste through their shopping habits, and Sprout The Grocer provides the most comfortable, homely and welcoming space to do so.

Sprout The Grocer

100 Hinemoa St
Birkenhead

www.sproutthegrocer.com

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Denizen presents Tokyo: An Unorthodox Food Tour by @eatlitfood

It’s no secret that Tokyo has one of the world’s most celebrated culinary scenes. With more than 160,000 restaurants, and boasting more Michelin Stars than anywhere else on the planet, deciding where to begin can be an overwhelming process.

Follow me as I eat my way through Tokyo’s varied food offerings, from a cheap and cheerful hole in the wall, through to an intriguing high dining experience that only serves one dish — and it’s not what you might think.

Harajuku Gyōza-rō
6 Chome-2-4 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Midori Sushi
Sushi Nomidori Shibuyaten
1 Chome-12-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo 107-6302, Japan
OUT
2 Chome-7-14 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan


Gastronomy


Denizen’s definitive guide to the best pizza in town

new

Global milk tea sensation, Machi Machi, opens its first store in Auckland

Comfort food and bottomless coffee collide at Avondale’s delicious new cafe