Carlo Buenaventura has long been dedicated to offering a dining experience with a difference at his cosy, Cross Street venue. In fact, Bar Magda has garnered quite a stellar reputation among local gourmands for its intriguing food that, on the one hand, is deeply rooted in traditional Filipino flavours, while on the other, is catered perfectly to the palette of the contemporary New Zealand diner. Buenaventura calls it ‘new wave Filipino,’ we call it delicious.
Now, Bar Magda has unveiled a raft of delicious new additions to its lauded menu, each one in keeping with Buenaventura’s aim of curating a unique experience that never feels stuffy. Here, the dishes are decidedly elevated but still accessible enough that you might also enjoy them at the bar with a beautiful glass of wine. These new dishes, Buenaventura tells us, mark the first instalment of Bar Magda’s full menu change, with other additions set to land in the coming months as new seasonal produce becomes available.
Among the raft of new dishes, a few certainly stand out. One is the incredibly tasty Terrine of Spiced Ham, or what Buenaventura calls his take on ‘SPAM’, made with a secret spice mix, prosciutto, smoked pork hock, back fat and smoked ham. This is served with toast, pickled cucumber and crab-fat mayonnaise. Another is the Barbecue Green Asparagus, served with green miso, white anchovy and sauce Mirasol — a sauce that the Bar Magda team created with flavours of yellow peppers and coconut yoghurt. Here, a hint of savoury spice is paired perfectly with a burst of fresh acidity for a balanced and light dish.
There is also a Glazed Purple Carrot Ham, which is an interesting dish in which the purple carrots have been braised, smoked and lightly dehydrated to deliver a soft, chewy, ham-like texture. They are glazed with Bar Magda’s in-house sweet and spicy sauce that speaks to a fusion of Asian and American barbecue flavours, and is served with fresh goat’s cheese and crunchy snow peas.
Elsewhere, the 300g Magda Pork and Duck Longaniza is a Spanish sausage (similar to chorizo) made with sauerkraut (that has been charred and preserved with Filipino fish sauce ‘patis’), yellow mustard and seed sambal. Buenaventura tells me his team makes the base for this in-house before sending it to the experts at Grey Lynn Butchers, who do the final touches to create the perfect-looking sausage.
The Smoked and Pickled Black Yams are a delightful vegetable option, served with a slaw of kohlrabi and ginger, coconut bay leaf aioli and buttered pistachio, while we have our eyes on the Kilaw dish, which comprises raw swordfish and scallop dressed in pickled lemon and served with nashi pear and macapuno (a type of coconut endemic to the Philippines that is softer and naturally sweeter) and served carpaccio style.
From start to finish, Bar Magda’s new dishes truly are a delight for the senses. Unique, thoughtful, full of flavour and unlike anything else you’ll experience in this city, these new additions are giving us every excuse to book a table at Bar Magda immediately. And if you are still yet to try this stellar spot, consider this a sign.