This new Southeast Asian eatery, helmed by a pro, is delivering the goods.
Those who know Birkenhead know that in spite of its abundance of local eateries, there are few that beckon us with the promise of new and exciting fare as does its Southeast Asian newcomer, Mulan.
Succeeding the trusty Thai restaurant that went before it, the space that sits atop Hinemoa Street has been promptly gutted, painted and dressed with simple tables and an eclectic collection of chairs to create a refreshingly unfussy and casual eatery. Responsible for the food side of things is North Shore local, James Balaksharian (formerly head chef at Takapuna’s Madam Woo) who has spearheaded a menu that elicits all the delightful flavours of his homeland, Malaysia.
Having popped in on a recent visit, we were privy to sampling a few items off their menu including ‘Mama’s Special’ – the incredible flavoursome sticky pork buns you can’t afford to miss – alongside other starters: the chicken satay — a laudable version of the tried and true dish with chicken marinated in lemongrass and tumeric with a delightful, homemade sauce; the juicy banana prawns cooked in lemongrass, Vietnamese mint and tamarind, and the ‘Golden Shield’ flash fry squid in a sweet chilli jam with one of our favourite ingredients, kaffir lime.
Following this build up of heady flavours, our mains comprised the Malay classic, beef Massaman, which was more than enough to satisfy us with its hearty serving of prime rump beef cooked in a blend of spices, roasted peanuts and coconut cream. There was also the classic Penang Curry Kapitan that was executed perfectly. If you’re up for tasting something different however, the market fish delivers a unique hybrid of flavours including lemongrass, ginger flower and green chilli.
While they’re still working out a few kinks in the service, we’re inclined to forgive them given the warm welcome we received. That, and the fact that you can’t help but feel relaxed at Mulan. With the bifold windows fully drawn back to let in the evening breeze, it’s the perfect place for a laid-back weekend meal or accessible weeknight solution.
Monday – Wednesday (dinner only): 5pm till late.
Thursday – Sunday (lunch & dinner): 12-3pm, 5pm till late.
243 Hinemoa Street
(09) 480 2806