Ghost Street.
Whole steamed king prawns, glass noodles, fried garlic, sweet soy.
Steamed wong bok rolls, soy, fresh chilli.

This new underground eatery is bringing a taste of Beijing to Britomart

When it comes to dining out in winter, we crave warming, flavourful dishes and a cosy, cocooning environment in which to enjoy them. While this week’s opening of their new venture may have been in the works for over two years, hospitality duo Krishna Botica and Tony McGeorge are right on time with Ghost Street. 

Situated beneath their recently relocated (and eternally popular) restaurant Cafe Hanoi, Ghost Street has made itself at home in what was previously 1885 Basement. The subterranean space was given a thoughtful interior refresh by Dajiang Tai and James Ting of Cheshire Architects, an elevated yet approachable reimagining of the bustling hole-in-the-wall eateries that run along Beijing’s famous food street from which this eatery takes its name.

Textural and transportative, the 82-seat space presents all manner of options for differing group sizes — as perfect for an intimate date night as a rousing meal with friends, a business lunch and more. A 44-seat private dining room will also open on the 1st of June. A long, stool-lined, shared table runs in between the central pillars of the room, with an open kitchen giving diners ample view of executive chef Nathan Houpapa and head chef Khai Yee ‘KK’ Khor leading the culinary action.

The idea behind Ghost Street, Botica tells us, was to hone in on aspects of Chinese cuisine that the team feels passionate about. As with Cafe Hanoi, Xuxu Dumpling Bar and Saan, the eatery celebrates Asian cuisine while combining it with a Western-style beverage offering — at Ghost Street, this takes the form of aromatic cocktails that contain spices, bitters and herbs, almost like a Chinese apothecary, plus a curated selection of Champagne, wine and beer.

Both Houpapa and Khor have a particular affinity for Chinese food, and Ghost Street’s menu offers rustic, seasonal dishes from throughout the country with a particular emphasis on those from the western cities of Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, and Xi’an. A research trip in China two years ago saw the team curate a collection of dishes that pack a flavourful punch, with a balanced selection that means you can hit all manner of taste profiles from tart and vinegary to savoury, to both sichuan and hot spice. 

Chinese pickles with fried wonton skins are an ideal way to start, and the pickle bowl is generous enough that you can cleanse your palate in between other bites. Scallop wontons are beautifully silky, layered in a shallow gingery broth laced with numbing sichuan oil. We found the vege fried rice to be extremely moreish yet non-stodgy, and we are told KK’s special fried rice with tiger prawn tails and XO sauce is another must-order.

Biang Biang noodles are already being touted as somewhat of a signature, and whole steamed Australian king prawns are a delicious dish to roll up your sleeves for, arriving in their shells on top of an umami tangle of glass noodles and stuffed with fried garlic. The full menu is comprehensive yet not overwhelming, with plenty to satisfy both carnivores and vegetarians alike. We also loved the sichuan eggplant — spicy and jammy, it melts in the mouth and is topped with sesame seeds and fresh chilli.

It’s not something we’d usually mention, but even the menu design is clever — tick a box next to the dishes you want, hand it over and you’ll be saved all the back and forth of yelling over the table to your waitperson. 

As they are wont to do with their other openings, Ghost Street’s team has identified a gap in their neighbourhood’s offering and filled it in the best way possible. We suggest you get yourself down there to try it for yourself.

Opening hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 5PM — close (around 10PM)
Thursday: 12 noon — close (around 10PM)
Friday: 12 noon — late (around midnight)
Saturday: 5PM — late (around midnight)
Sunday: 5PM — close (around 10PM)

Ghost Street
Basement Floor,
27 Galway Street,
Britomart
Access via Tuawhiti Lane (adjacent to Hotel Britomart)

www.ghoststreetakl.nz

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Meet actor Erana James, the Kiwi rising star making her mark on global screens

Among young New Zealand creatives with their sights set on fame and fortune, a voyage overseas is a well-trodden tradition. For 22-year-old actor Erana James, however, Hollywood came to her, offering a central role in the Amazon Prime Video series The Wilds.

Filmed in Auckland, it was touted as the breakout hit of the season upon its release in December 2020 (with a second season confirmed soon after), and thanks to the show’s success James has been catapulted onto the global stage.

The Wilds follows eight young women who, following a plane crash, are washed up on a desert island. Described as a successor of Lord of the Flies, or Lost (but with teenage girls), the show has been praised for its relatable portrayals of a range of young women from diverse backgrounds, and its stars have garnered dedicated fanbases that grow seemingly by the minute.

James as Toni Shalifoe in Prime Video’s The Wilds.

For James, who plays tomboy Toni Shalifoe and was the only main cast member from Aotearoa, the opportunity to shoot her first American TV show on home soil was a dream. “It was so amazing,” she tells me. “It’s the type of job that can change your life a little bit, because you get thrown out of life as you know it for such a long time.”

Having a strong female support system throughout the filming process was also incredible, she says, reflecting on the opportunity to work with industry legends such as the late Jamie Tarses, producer Amy Harris and writer Sarah Streicher, as well as her other female co-stars.

James was born in Whangārei and moved to Wellington when she was 10, where she got into acting at the age of 14 — her mother manages performing arts school Rata Studios. There, James was mentored by actor and renowned acting coach Miranda Harcourt, which led to the then-17-year-old being cast in her first local breakout role as Laura Chant in the Margaret Mahy film-adaption, The Changeover. A year after that was released, she was cast in The Wilds.

“I never really thought it would be something I’d do full time,” says James of her accelerating acting career. “But, I’ve been very willingly thrown into this crazy job at the moment, that I hope will continue to go well.”

Poised, eloquent and wise beyond her years, James speaks candidly about her journey and keeping her head in a notoriously difficult industry. She’s getting used to having more eyes on her than ever before, including a social media following of over 218,000, but she’s also not afraid to speak out for what she’s passionate about.

“I have always been and will always be passionate about indigenous culture, having indigenous culture be at the forefront of the education system and being able to play indigenous characters,” says James, who is Māori from Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei hapū on her father’s side. “Telling those stories through the right lenses has always been [important]… and also changing the narrative around the types of women we see in film.”

Coming off the back of playing Toni, an openly gay character, James is delighted by the outpouring of positive messages she received from the LGBTQ+ community, telling her they felt seen and represented by her portrayal. “It just means the world.”

When it comes to preparing for a role, part of what makes James so compelling to watch is her skill in finding a balance between inhabiting a character and being herself. “My acting coach [Miranda Harcourt] speaks about finding the naturalism in the story you’re telling,” she says, “so, whatever part of myself I can activate for whatever character I’m playing — stronger, dull that back, push that further — if there’s already truth in that [emotion] in me, then I hope the truth comes through in that character.”

Ask James about who or what is inspiring her, and she’s quick to praise her brother, Ethan James, who also works in the industry as a 1st Assistant Camera (also known as a focus puller) naming him as her “biggest inspiration and drive.” And, as far as dream roles are concerned? “I have always wanted to work with Jane Campion, so whatever role she wants to give me!”

This year, James will be filming season two of The Wilds for several months, and after that, she’s looking forward to diving into more work. We’re sure she’ll have her pick of any number of amazing roles.

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Meet Sunday Blessings Auckland, the community-driven initiative combating food insecurity

It’s always a good time to think about what you could be doing to give back to the community and those in need. It can, however, occasionally be a little confusing trying to figure out what the best use of your funds or your time will be. In this new series, we’re highlighting initiatives that we deem worthy of your support. First up is Auckland community-driven food service Sunday Blessings

The philosophy
Sunday Blessings Auckland was formed in 2018 to address its founders’ commonly held belief that no one should have to rummage through a rubbish bin for food. That same year, a report by the United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization found that 14 percent of New Zealanders experience regular food insecurity. This figure is likely to have grown significantly in the aftermath of Covid-19, and Sunday Blessings Auckland aims to combat this by providing nourishing, hot meals to those in need.

Who they are
Sunday Blessings Auckland was founded by Laurie McLeod, Audrey Van Ryn and Danielle LeGallais, and involves a rotating roster of kind volunteers who get involved every week. 

What they do
Utilising community surplus food and volunteers, Sunday Blessings Auckland feeds around 160 people every Sunday at the Ellen Melville Centre on Freyberg Place, in the Auckland CBD, having served more than 26,000 meals since it was formed. The once-a-week service is often increased with an impromptu meal when they have a surplus of food donations, and the initiative helps to alleviate food waste overall by working with local hospitality businesses to repurpose their excess food. 

Co-founder LeGallais also frequently speaks to audiences about how to get involved in community work, simultaneously aiming to help shift negative preconceptions about the un-homed. This year, as well as the food-focused aspect of Sunday Blessings, LeGallais says the team will be moving into offering advocacy services in an effort to empower the community.

Who they work alongside
Sunday Blessings partners with various other important initiatives and charities to offer even more than a nourishing meal at the gathering site. These include Orange Sky, which provides free laundry and showers to people experiencing homelessness, and registered charity Tender Love & Care.

Not-for-profit repurposed clothing initiative Koha Apparel joins Sunday Blessings once a month, and loyal yet unofficial supporters include Glendowie Primary School’s staff and students, both St Georges and Kings College rowing clubs, and community group Brown Pride NZ.

Several hospitality organisations and retailers also regularly support eliminating food insecurity with less waste practices using Sunday Blessings, including Bluebells Cakery, AUT Events and its Newsfeed Cafe, Refuel Cafe in Onehunga and more.

How to get involved
A roster on the Sunday Blessings website that is simple to complete makes it very easy to get involved. Find links to two Google Doc sheets, one to volunteer for serving and one to volunteer to cook. Anything could be on the menu, including baked cakes and biscuits, pizzas, stews, soups, sausage rolls or sandwiches. Sunday Blessings is unique in that it takes perishable items for people to eat (as long as they’re still unspoiled, of course).

It’s also a great thing to get the whole family involved in, especially young children, who will benefit from seeing the value of compassion at a young age. As the Sunday Blessings team says: “don’t underestimate the power of a warm smile from someone giving their time and food.”

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Take cues from these street style looks to create an unforgettable outfit.

Need some autumn outfit inspiration? Here are 4 looks to wear right now

It can be difficult to know what exactly to wear at this time of year. As temperatures take a dive but days can still deliver warmth, getting dressed in the morning can prove tricky. So, considering that one of our favourite fashion go-tos, Workshop, has recently had an influx of new pieces from the likes of Isabel Marant, Acne Studios and Ganni, we thought it high time we rounded up some of the looks we plan on wearing to get through this funny, in-between time. (And hopefully, give you the inspiration you need.)

Everyday Formal

Cool and Casual

Easy Elegance

Luxe Layering

Coveted


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Mother’s Day Gift Guide: 30+ thoughtful ideas for Mum

The second Sunday in May is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get ready to celebrate mothers everywhere. From simple tokens of love to sublime gestures, these gift ideas are sure to inspire the perfect present for your beloved mum.

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Mineraleir Persia Hoop

Mineraleir Persia Hoop

Mineraleir Persia Hoop

Mineraleir Persia Hoop

Available from Muse

Isosceles Book & iPad Stand

Isosceles Book & iPad Stand

Isosceles Book & iPad Stand

Isosceles Book & iPad Stand

Available from Powersurge

Wynn Hamlyn Loop Chunky Sweater

Wynn Hamlyn Loop Chunky Sweater

Wynn Hamlyn Loop Chunky Sweater

Wynn Hamlyn Loop Chunky Sweater

Available from The Mercer Store

Dauphine Bumper iPhone Case

Dauphine Bumper iPhone Case

Dauphine Bumper iPhone Case

Dauphine Bumper iPhone Case

Available from Louis Vuitton

Lamé Papier Hat

Lamé Papier Hat

Lamé Papier Hat

Lamé Papier Hat

Available from Gucci

Suzanne Turley: Private Gardens of Aotearoa

Suzanne Turley: Private Gardens of Aotearoa

Suzanne Turley: Private Gardens of Aotearoa

Suzanne Turley: Private Gardens of Aotearoa

Available from ECC

Bone China Paper Cups

Bone China Paper Cups

Bone China Paper Cups

Bone China Paper Cups

Available from Tiffany & Co.

One Year Denizen Subscription

One Year Denizen Subscription

One Year Denizen Subscription

One Year Denizen Subscription

Available from Denizen

Sothys Energizing Serum

Sothys Energizing Serum

Sothys Energizing Serum

Sothys Energizing Serum

Available from Sothys

Tom Dixon Scent Elements Diffuser

Tom Dixon Scent Elements Diffuser

Tom Dixon Scent Elements Diffuser

Tom Dixon Scent Elements Diffuser

Available from ECC

Huski Wine Cooler

Huski Wine Cooler

Huski Wine Cooler

Huski Wine Cooler

Available from Sills + Co

Mother's Day Spa Package

Mother's Day Spa Package

Mother's Day Spa Package

Mother's Day Spa Package

Available from East Day Spa

Bitossi Clessidre Collection Vases

Bitossi Clessidre Collection Vases

Bitossi Clessidre Collection Vases

Bitossi Clessidre Collection Vases

Available from Matisse

Cashmere Heart Socks

Cashmere Heart Socks

Cashmere Heart Socks

Cashmere Heart Socks

Available from Elle + Riley

Poltrona Frau Ilary Monolithic Coffee Table

Poltrona Frau Ilary Monolithic Coffee Table

Poltrona Frau Ilary Monolithic Coffee Table

Poltrona Frau Ilary Monolithic Coffee Table

Available from Studio Italia

B.zero1 Ring

B.zero1 Ring

B.zero1 Ring

B.zero1 Ring

Available from Bulgari

Mid-Year Weekly Diary

Mid-Year Weekly Diary

Mid-Year Weekly Diary

Mid-Year Weekly Diary

Available from An Organised Life

Diptyque Tubéreuse Rouge Candle

Diptyque Tubéreuse Rouge Candle

Diptyque Tubéreuse Rouge Candle

Diptyque Tubéreuse Rouge Candle

Available from Mecca

RNZYS Raincoat

RNZYS Raincoat

RNZYS Raincoat

RNZYS Raincoat

Available from Karen Walker

Lettuce Vintage Blooms Puzzle

Lettuce Vintage Blooms Puzzle

Lettuce Vintage Blooms Puzzle

Lettuce Vintage Blooms Puzzle

Available from Father Rabbit

Kaiser Montana Vase

Kaiser Montana Vase

Kaiser Montana Vase

Kaiser Montana Vase

Available from Studio of Tableware

Diamond Leaves on Sleepers

Diamond Leaves on Sleepers

Diamond Leaves on Sleepers

Diamond Leaves on Sleepers

Available from Sutcliffe

Celine Sunglasses

Celine Sunglasses

Celine Sunglasses

Celine Sunglasses

Available from Parker & Co

Tom Ford fragrance

Tom Ford fragrance

Tom Ford fragrance

Tom Ford fragrance

Available from Smith & Caughey’s

Printworks Tic Tac Toe

Printworks Tic Tac Toe

Printworks Tic Tac Toe

Printworks Tic Tac Toe

Available from Father Rabbit

The Pantry Strawberry Cakes

The Pantry Strawberry Cakes

The Pantry Strawberry Cakes

The Pantry Strawberry Cakes

Available from Park Hyatt Auckland

Cadbury Roses Limited Edition

Cadbury Roses Limited Edition

Cadbury Roses Limited Edition

Cadbury Roses Limited Edition

Available from selected retailers

Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit

Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit

Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit

Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit

Available from Inès Store

Philippi H2O Water Carafe

Philippi H2O Water Carafe

Philippi H2O Water Carafe

Philippi H2O Water Carafe

Available from Studio of Tableware

Isabel Marant Camera Bag

Isabel Marant Camera Bag

Isabel Marant Camera Bag

Isabel Marant Camera Bag

Available from Workshop

'We rise by lifting others' T-Shirt

'We rise by lifting others' T-Shirt

'We rise by lifting others' T-Shirt

'We rise by lifting others' T-Shirt

Available from Dior

Printed Twill Scarf

Printed Twill Scarf

Printed Twill Scarf

Printed Twill Scarf

Available from Prada

Anni Lu Nuanua Bracelet

Anni Lu Nuanua Bracelet

Anni Lu Nuanua Bracelet

Anni Lu Nuanua Bracelet

Available from Workshop

Unfortunate Portrait Fashion Playing Cards

Unfortunate Portrait Fashion Playing Cards

Unfortunate Portrait Fashion Playing Cards

Unfortunate Portrait Fashion Playing Cards

Available from Maman

Crew Neck Sweatshirt

Crew Neck Sweatshirt

Crew Neck Sweatshirt

Crew Neck Sweatshirt

Available from Maggie Marilyn

Maison Balzac Grande Pauline

Maison Balzac Grande Pauline

Maison Balzac Grande Pauline

Maison Balzac Grande Pauline

Available from Maman

Wild Game Month at Onslow.

Here’s everything you need to know about Auckland’s dining scene this May

There are plenty of tasty things to get excited about this May, from fine-dining vegan degustations to ultra-luxe Champagne lunches, a bottomless frosé bar — and much more.

Make a booking
Wild game month at Onslow
Throughout May, as the cold weather creeps in, Onslow is encouraging diners to embrace the slow food movement — celebrating dishes that take longer to prepare, and meals that take their time at the table. During autumn and winter, the restaurant is offering a special four-course Sunday lunch for $79, with the option to upgrade to a full wine match. As the first weekend in May signals the beginning of New Zealand’s game season, the first Sunday lunch series will revolve around all things wild game this month — expect to see rabbit cassoulet, venison sausage rolls, confit duck and more.

Euro’s snapper belly tartare, chilli, lime, taramasalata, taro.

An autumnal long lunch at Euro
Gather your group and enjoy Euro’s autumn lunch menu, celebrating warming flavours for the upcoming cooler days. Available throughout May, the menu features six delicious dishes designed to share and a glass of selected wine, for only $40 per person.

A celebration of fine food, craft beer, and whisky at Botswana Butchery
Join the team at Botswana Butchery, along with The Tuatara Brewing Co. & Glenfiddich Distillery, on Thursday, 20th of May, for their Against the Grain Whisky Dinner. With four scrumptious courses, each paired with a craft beer and whisky, this meal will be a must for fans of rich and indulgent flavours such as grass-fed beef tartare, ostrich loin, and Te Mana slow-roasted lamb. To book, contact the restaurant directly on 09 307 6966.

Vegan degustation at Sidart.

A vegan degustation at Sidart
Sidart is, of course, known for its exceptional cuisine, service, and atmosphere, and the team is putting on an exciting plant-based menu for the Eat Drink Love Ponsonby festival this year. For the entire month of May, a five or seven-course vegan degustation will be available, featuring all manner of exquisite delights — no animal products included. There will also be the option of fully vegan wine matches to complement the menus.

Celebrate the mum in your life with a delicious meal
It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, 9th of May, and there are plenty of restaurants offering special menus to celebrate. We suggest you secure a booking now to avoid missing out, and luckily for you’ve put together a list of all the best places to book. See it here.

Billecart-Salmon Champagne lunch at Onemata, Park Hyatt Auckland
This very special event taking place on Saturday, 29th of May, with Onemata setting the scene for a luxurious lunch, paired with Billecart-Salmon Champagne. Expect a selection of canapés and a glass of the good stuff on arrival, followed by four delicious courses — all paired with premium Billecart-Salmon Champagne, for $195 per person. Expect the likes of Ora King salmon and goats cheese crumpets; Harmony pork katsu; Lobster with buffalo ricotta agnolotti — and more. Plus, if you book a room at Park Hyatt Auckland, you can trot up there afterwards feeling very well fed indeed. For bookings and enquiries, please contact Aimee Tuck on 09 366 2500 or [email protected]

NSP.

An Italian-style long lunch at Non Solo Pizza
While this offer may not be May specific, we think it’s always a good time to linger over a delicious long lunch, and what better place to do so than Non Solo Pizza? Gather your friends and loved ones and make a day of it, with shared plates for the table including a large selection of antipasti; pasta like linguine and ricotta, spinach and mushroom rotolo; a roasted pork belly porchetta with duck fat potatoes; and dessert. For $55 a head, and groups of four or more, if this doesn’t get you ready for winter, we don’t know what will.

Dinner and a show with Satya at Hyderabad Hotel
Get your culture fix and an irresistible meal to boot, with this pop-up play happening at Hyderabad Hotel. Showing for three days on the 4th, 5th and 6th of May, Lovepreet Reckons is a Rom-Com that follows newlyweds Corrie and Ferdosh as they move into a new apartment building following their honeymoon. Having to cope with the new apartment being smaller than expected, Corrie and Ferdosh find themselves not only having to contend with conflict in their own relationship; but also with intrusive family members and the crazy neighbours they’ve inherited — needless to say, hilarity ensues. This event is $89 for a five-course meal and 90-minute play, make sure you book before it sells out.

Frosé Your Way at Dr Rudi’s
From now until 6th of June, rosé fans are invited to indulge in its fun frozen counterpart with a bottomless frosé pop-up at Viaduct Harbour venue Dr Rudi’s. Featuring various eye-catching frosé shades plus a DIY garnish wall filled with sweet treats, Frosé Your Way is available in 2-hour slots with a one-foot pizza for $49 per person, minimum four people per booking.

Grownup Donuts.

New openings to check out
Brothers Beer & Juke Joint BBQ — Birkenhead: Bringing a family-friendly gastropub vibe to the North Shore, the sixth venue from the team behind Brothers Beer combines crafty brews and tasty eats for a crowd-pleasing offering. Read about it here.

Dusty’s Depot: With fans across the city for its artisanal baked goods, The Dusty Apron has finally opened a bakery and cafe out east where you can grab a croissant and some great coffee to go. Visit the spot in St Johns, and read about it here.

Grownup Donuts: Some of the best doughnuts we’ve ever tried have come to the central city, and we’re both overjoyed and concerned for our blood sugar levels. Handmade daily with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, these indulgent treats are the real deal. Find the new store at 2 Anzac Ave, and read about it here.

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward

Kate Spade New York’s vibrant new fragrance is here to inspire joy with every spritz

Fragrance has the power to influence our emotions and moods, so why not reach for something uplifting? Kate Spade New York’s newly-launched, eponymous fragrance is inspired by the fashion house’s vibrant, clever essence, which has celebrated women and their sense of individuality since its launch in 1993.

A joyfully feminine perfume, Kate Spade New York harnesses a combination of fruity and floral notes— in particular, wild strawberry. Perfumer Marie Salamagne of renowned Swiss fragrance company Firmenich aimed to pay tribute to the lush red fruit, capturing its unique scent and tempering it with rose essence.

A top note of bergamot adds a sparkling, citrus element, while the floral heart combines that rose essence with freesia. Base notes of ambroxan and cashmeran add a slightly musky, woody depth, ensuring this fragrance is not simply sweet frivolity.

For Kate Spade New York’s launch, dancer Maddie Ziegler lent her rhythmic talents in a free-spirited campaign capturing spontaneous celebration. Shot against the iconic New York City skyline, Ziegler and her friends embody the unbridled joy that comes with feeling authentically yourself — a sensibility we hope to channel, while smelling delicious in the process.

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Mela's signature Snack Box.

Fine dining restaurant Mela launches delicious new autumn menu

A hidden gem in central Auckland is crafting fine dining food with love and flair. Named Mela, the restaurant is located in the City Road site previously occupied by Number 5, however this new incarnation is a destination all of its own. 

Owner and Executive Chef Jack Crosti has impressive experience from local kitchens, having worked at fine-dining institutions Sidart and The Grove, plus contemporary projects like the former Middle Eastern restaurant Beirut. Raised in Italy, his passion for cooking started at a young age, passed down from his mother and grandmothers. “Food elicits so many positive emotions and memories for me,” says Crosti, “and I was inspired to turn that sentiment into a career.”

He took over Number 5 at the end of 2019, bestowing it with its new name in October 2020 to solidify the venue as a project wholly his own. “The inspiration for the name Mela originates from a Greek fable; that we are all half of an apple, eternally searching for our other perfect half in order to make us complete,” he says. “Having my own restaurant felt like what I needed to do to feel whole as a chef.”

The food at Mela is predominantly European-style to tie in with Crosti’s background (before coming to New Zealand he worked at Michelin star restaurants in London plus establishments in Europe, the US and Australia), and draws from his many experiences around the world while celebrating the beauty of our local ingredients and produce. “Ultimately, I want to express creativity in food and emphasise the best New Zealand raw ingredients.” 

Diners can order either a la carte, or to indulge in a three, five or seven course degustation. Many of the products are made from scratch in-house, such as fresh cheese, cured meats, and fermented fruits and vegetables. 

With a seasonally changing offering, the autumn menu is brand new this week and is inspired by Crosti’s childhood memories of Italy in the fall — walks in the forest with his grandmother, foraging for mushrooms and chestnuts to cook on the fireplace. 

Highlights include mushroom, celeriac and burnt onion — packed with umami and earthiness, the celeriac is cooked in a facto-fermented mushroom broth made with oyster mushrooms grown on site. A warm broth of onions has been gently smoked on coffee tree charcoal and soy that has been fermented in-house. 

Beef cheek with last summer’s fermented blueberry and wasabi is also a stand-out — cooked for 72 hours, the beef cheek is brushed with the blueberry paste and finished on charcoal, served with a New Zealand wasabi-infused yoghurt, fresh cucumbers and herbaceous sauce. 

To finish, we particularly love the sound of goat milk ice cream infused with beeswax, finished with a warm pistachio cake, a fresh and zingy sorrel granita, and grated Koko Samoa for a slightly bitter finish. 

While 2020 was undoubtedly a tough year to be in hospitality, Crosti is forging ahead with innovation and passion for the craft. “It is a privilege to showcase my idea of food to this beautiful country that has adopted me,” he says. In sharing the inspiration behind his dishes with diners at Mela, Crosti hopes to help them feel more connected to the experience. “I love getting to share my story with customers, and making it far more than just a meal.”

To celebrate Mela’s new autumn menu, we have a delicious dining experience to give away to one lucky winner, who will receive a seven-course degustation for two, including Mela’s signature snack box with snacks for two, and a glass of bubbles each on arrival.

This giveaway has now closed.

Gastronomy


From perfect pasta to mouthwatering mezze, these are the best comfort food takeaways to order right now

This new Miann opening is bringing the sweet life to Ponsonby Central

Treat yourself to a Powersurge online shop, and receive a generous restaurant voucher for paying it forward
Garance Doré' via wearedore.com.

Auckland Writers Festival is back with a bang and these are the best sessions to book

After having to be cancelled in 2020 due to unfortunate circumstances we’re all very familiar with, Auckland Writers Festival is back with a bang this year. Bringing us a smashing selection of the best writers and thinkers from here and abroad, the Festival is a place for all to celebrate the world of books and ideas, enriching the culture of our city from the 11th — 16th of May. 

If you’d like some guidance on what to book from the excellent selection of sessions, here are the events we’re looking forward to seeing at the 2021 Auckland Writers Festival.

Left: Neil Gaiman. Right: Kazuo Ishiguro.

The Universe of Story: Neil Gaiman
Famed British author Neil Gaiman will be here in person (he’s currently living in Hawke’s Bay with his partner, musician Amanda Palmer) to espouse on the art of storytelling that he’s beloved for the world over, following the recent publication of updated collection The Neil Gaiman Reader: Selected Fiction. Containing 50 of his short stories plus excerpts from American Gods, Neverwhere and more, the book showcases Gaiman’s range and prowess as one of the world’s most talented contemporary writers — one that has sold over 50 million books, no less. Catch him in conversation with author Nic Low on Sunday, 16th of May.

A Nobel Life: Kazuo Ishiguro
Those who have read his books can’t help but love the restrained yet poignant prose of Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro. The author of acclaimed novels like The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go has released a brilliant new book that is, once again, garnering hefty praise. Klara and the Sun tells the story of an artificial being in search of the family that will fulfil the purpose she was created for. Through Klara’s eyes we see both beautiful and cruel aspects of human nature anew, and ask the question: what does it mean to love? See Ishiguro in conversation with Michelle Langstone via livestream on Saturday, 15th of May, discussing his life’s work.

Left: Patricia Grace. Right: Garance Dore.

From the Centre: Patricia Grace
One of New Zealand’s most celebrated authors, Patricia Grace will be talking about the experiences that have shaped her life, books and distinctive voice following the publication of her new memoir From the Centre: A writer’s life — out on the 4th of May. Having penned multiple beloved novels, short stories, and children’s books including Potiki, Cousins (which has been adapted into a major film, in cinemas now) and Tu, Grace is sure to have plenty of wisdom and inspiring words to share, in conversation with Nic Low on Saturday, 15th of May.

A Question of Style: Garance Doré
One of the original fashion bloggers that kicked off the influencer movement, Garance Doré’s story is far from predictable. Having found what others would deem the pinnacle of success in the fashion industry, Doré walked away from it all in 2015 shortly after publishing her first book — New York Times bestseller Love X Style X Life — to find what made her truly happy. With a weekly subscription newsletter sharing personal, philosophical and often hilarious insights about her life, Doré speaks with Wendy Petrie via livestream about her journey on Friday, 14th of May.

Left: Ai Weiwei. Right: Behrouz Boochani.

Conversations: Ai Weiwei
The chance to hear directly from such an important, cultural figure is one we are excited about, as Ai Weiwei joins the festival via livestream to discuss his latest book Conversations. Chronicling candid discussions with critical thinkers, including Andrew Solomon and Evan Osnos, Weiwei touches on his relationship with China, the meaning of citizenship, how to make art, and technology as a tool for freedom of oppression. He will be talking to film-maker Chelsea Winstanley on Friday, 14th of May.

No Friend but the Mountains: Behrouz Boochani
Sometimes, in life, it’s good to have things put in perspective, and Behrouz Boochani’s story is sure to help with that. The Kurdish-Iranian journalist became a political prisoner after fleeing from Iran in 2013, detained indefinitely in the Australian-run Manus Regional Processing Centre, Papua New Guinea. On a smuggled mobile phone, he chronicled six years in the centre, tapped out in Farsi in a series of single messages, and subsequently translated into English by Omid Tofighian. The result was his book No Friend But The Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, which went on to win a host of literary prizes. Now resident in New Zealand, Boochani speaks with Julie Hill on Friday, 14th of May.

From left: Reb Fountain, Tom Scott, Marlon Williams, Moana Maniapoto.

A Celebration of Song: Reb, Tom, Marlon & Moana
The craft of songwriting is often just as much of a beautiful mystery as authors penning novels. Three of Aotearoa’s most esteemed musicians Reb Fountain, Tom Scott and Marlon Williams, will join fellow singer Moana Maniapoto to dissect their artistry and inspirations. Completing the conversation will be acoustic performances, making this session one to prioritise for both literary and music fans on Thursday, 13th of May.

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Gochu's XO noodles.

Denizen’s definitive guide to the best noodle dishes in Auckland

Diverse, delicious and comforting, noodles are something we really start craving as the weather cools down. From spicy noodle bowls to fulfilling noodle soups and everything in between, we have rounded up a list of the best to keep you satiated as we head into winter.

XO Noodles from Gochu
Described by some as a Korean ‘spaghetti bolognese’ these incredibly tasty noodles are back on Gochu’s menu after a hiatus in which they were sorely missed. Returning to sighs of relief from anyone who loves this innovative Korean restaurant in Commercial Bay, the chewy noodles are served topped with flavoursome Korean pork XO, indulgent cashew cream and perfectly pickled radish.

Rare Beef Rice Noodle Soup from Try It Out
Finding a solid bowl of Vietnamese phở is not the easiest task in Auckland, but Try It Out leaves us impressed every single time. Its broth has an unbelievable depth in flavour and allows the rare beef cook slowly underneath the surface while you slurp your way through the thin rice noodles — which surprisingly never go soft or mushy.

Hello Beasty’s shiitake XO noodles.

Shiitake XO Noodles from Hello Beasty
One of our favourite Viaduct Harbour spots to head to for a tasty bite, Hello Beasty serves up a hearty noodle dish that is not only flavoursome and fulfilling but vegetarian, too. Soft egg noodles are piled into a bowl and topped with delicious shiitake XO and a mixture of baby bok choy and choy sum before being finished with chives and typhoon shelter, which is a special kind of breadcrumb that offers a much-needed crunchiness to balance out the soft textures of the rest of the dish.

Kalppong from Kaya
Serving up South Korean noodles, Kaya on Lorne St or in Albany is the place to go. Kalppong is a combination of two noodle dishes that are extremely popular in Korea — kalguksu and jjamppong. Kalguksu means knife-cut noodles, which sees each noodle in this dish carefully hand-cut to achieve a consistent size and texture. Jjamppong is renowned for its spiciness and seafood-rich flavour and Kaya has married the two ideas for a one-of-a-kind dish.

Saan’s wok-seared chicken thigh noodles.

Wok-Seared Chicken Thigh Noodles from Saan
Boasting a level of spice that just hits right, these noodles from Ponsonby Road’s Saan are a flavour triumph. Served with chunks of juicy, wok-seared chicken thigh, pieces of sweet butterhead lettuce, egg and lashings of house siracha, this dish is perfectly balanced, fresh and fulfilling without feeling too much.

Beef Pho from White + Wong’s
There really is nothing like a pho to warm the soul, and one of our favourite iterations of this Vietnamese dish can be found on the menu at White + Wong’s, whose take is a tasty, traditional beef pho where rice noodles are served in a flavour-filled soup and topped with bean sprouts, onion, and fresh coriander.

Ockhee’s myeolchi guksu.

Myeolchi Guksu from Ockhee
Serving up big flavour from its small Ponsonby Road spot, this delicious Korean eatery has cultivated a loyal following for its unique take on ‘Seoul food.’ Promising the perfect antidote to this increasingly chilly weather, Ockchee’s Myeolchi Guksu noodles offer a simple, satiating bowl of Somyeon (wheat flour) noodles in warming anchovy broth, served with vegetables and soy sauce.

Wan Dan Hor + Vermicelli from Bunga Raya
Tucked away in New Lynn, this tasty Malaysian restaurant is home to one seriously delicious noodle dish. Wan dan hor is something often found at Malaysian and Chinese restaurants, but no one does it better than Bunga Raya. There are two versions of this dish on the menu, the original or one with the addition of vermicelli, which is what we recommend. Fried vermicelli noodles offer a perfectly crispy counterbalance to the soft rice noodles, drenched in an egg gravy — a little tweak that makes a big difference.

Selera’s seafood laksa.

Seafood Laksa from Selera
It’s hard to beat the the laksa from Selera. You don’t even need to be a noodle fanatic to appreciate the greatness of this dish — it really is that good. The soup is like a thick curry and the egg noodles soak up all of its deliciousness while maintaining their perfectly-chewy texture. Also loaded with fish balls and plump prawns (or even pillowy prawn dumplings if you wish), it never fails to leave us feeling absolutely satiated.

Twelve-hour Organic Beef Brisket Ramen from Chop Chop
While it’s hardly surprising that this Ponsonby Central noodle house serves some of the tastiest noodles in town, Chop Chop’s twelve-hour organic beef brisket ramen is something else. The bowl of rye noodles is served with pieces of slow-cooked beef brisket that work to give the entire dish a rich flavour, alongside strips of bacon, shiitake mushrooms and egg before being topped with spring onion, sesame, and black garlic.

From left: East’s dan dan noodles; Udon Work’s kitsune udon.

Dan Dan Noodles from East
With an innovative menu that sees traditional Asian-style dishes given a modern, plant-based twist, East is a delicious vegetarian spot that delivers on flavour every time. Served with sesame, peanut, soft egg and a hint of spice, East’s Dan Dan noodles are not too heavy, not too light and perfect for refueling on a temperamental autumnal day.

Kitsune Udon from Udon Works
This Japanese udon dish is simple yet delicious and will leave you feeling wholly nourished without feeling overly parched from a lot of salt. A slightly opaque dashi broth is supplemented with thick, satisfying udon noodles, and fried tofu finished with a light sprinkling of spring onion, seaweed, and bonito flakes.

From left: Tanpopo’s tonkotsu shio tanpopo chasu ramen; Xi’An Food Bar’s Number 37.

Tonkotsu Shio Tanpopo Chasu Ramen from Tanpopo
When it comes to Japanese ramen Tanpopo is a great place to start. Its signature dish is the tonkotsu shio chasu ramen, which sees thin noodles drowning in a rich, salty pork broth, and topped with tender slices of pork and flavoursome black garlic oil.

Number 37 from Xi’An Food Bar
A dish that so iconic that the people behind the counter usually assume it’s what you’re after the moment you walk through the doors (and usually they’re right) The Number 37 is something else. Pulled pork sits atop a bed of noodles surrounded by a pool of spicy chilli sauce in what we can promise will be some of the sauciest noodles you have ever tried.

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