Saturday, March 4, 2017

Auckland Diner's Diary: February 2017

Fringe Openings

Beer, Burgers and Sandwiches

Northern Nourishment

Hospital Rations


Plan from the Orakei Bay Village website.

Other - Grocery Stores


Sunday, February 5, 2017

3 Chinese Restaurant Signs that Survived their Closure in Auckland

I haven't been posting much lately, other than my lists of new openings. You know how it is - life gets busy, and it's much easier to just send out a quick tweet or two. Once you've procrastinated enough, all those blog ideas you had don't really seem so relevant anymore.

Anyway, to add some pictorial content back to my blog, here are some restaurant signs I've seen around the place. I find it pretty amusing how long some of them have lasted for, since these Chinese restaurants closed years ago!

1) Ding How 頂好飯店

Ding How is probably the restaurant I remember the most of the three in this list, since I actually went there with friends using an Entertainment Book voucher, rather than just having a vague childhood memory. I'm not too sure when that was, but I found a review from 2007 online, and it was still around for the St Patrick's Square opening celebrations in 2009.

The upstairs space is now home to the Heaven Scent Food Co. It's a great place for pies and salads, but from the red sign outside their windows on the side that's away from the square (overhanging Albert Street), you could easily mistake it for the Chinese restaurant which no longer exists!

No Ding How Chinese restaurant here, despite appearances (picture from September 2016).

2) New Orient 新東方酒家

* (Presumably it had been operating the longest of all the Chinese restaurants in Auckland at the time, since the first Chinese restaurant in Auckland was in the 1920s or even earlier.)

I don't remember much other than going down the stairs to the basement restaurant, but apparently they had a full Chinese buffet for lunch or dinner which was popular.

New Orient sign outside the Stand Arcade (picture from September 2016).

New Orient sign inside Strand Arcade (picture from December 2016).

3) Palace Restaurant 皇宫酒家

Unlike the previous two examples, the signage for Palace Restaurant is just fading paint on the side of a wall now. You have to stand across the road to see it, otherwise the awning over the footpath gets in the way, and until recently, it was covered up by advertisements. I don't have any recollection of this restaurant at all, though the business apparently existed from 1993 to 2000.

The company listing shows it was on level 10 of the red pagoda tower known as Choice Plaza, which used to be called the Orient Towers. The distinctive building was commisioned by Mangere's Chan family in 1988, and designed by Auckland architect Ron Sang.

Palace Restaurant painted on wall (picture from October 2016).

Bonus Signage: Sri Makhota 滿金香 (City Branch)

Sri Makhota is Malaysian restaurant whose original East Tamaki branch was purchased by the Chin family (founder of the Hansan Vietnamese chain) in 2008. While that restaurant and its sister in Epsom are still around, the city branch, which opened in 2010 on Upper Symonds Street, closed quietly last year, despite a renovation in 2014.

Closed sign (April 2016) and menu from Nice Dumplings (November 2016) at the same location.

You could be forgiven for thinking Sri Makhota still has a third restaurant though, since the city branch is still listed on their website. And if you go around the corner and peer down Stable Lane, you will still see the restaurant sign hanging out the back.

Sri Makhota sign in Stable Lane (picture from November 2016).

What is it about Chinese restaurant signs that give some of then such an extended life span? Do you have some other examples I have missed?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Auckland Diner's Diary: January 2017

Food Trucks and Pop-Ups

Crazy for Coffee

Central Cheap Eats

Fringe Flavour




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Auckland Diner's Diary: December 2016

Market Stalls

City Eats

Food on the Fringe

Out and About


Other Food News



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Auckland Diner's Diary: November 2016

City Openings

Fringe Eats - Ponsonby and Herne Bay

Fringe Eats - Newmarket

Fringe Eats - Mount Eden

Not Much Further



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Auckland Diner's Diary: October 2016

New in Town - Something Special

New in Town - Burgers and Wraps

New in Town - Food on the Go

New in Town - Watering Holes

Fringe Feeds

Suburban Charm


Other Food News

Pop-ups & Markets

Other Events

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Bite in Brief: Satya Spice and Chai Shop

We came here because we were checking out the Sandringham Street Festival, and came across the intriguing little entranceway next to Satya Restaurant while hunting for chai.

Alleyway entrance to the chai lounge.

The menu was mainly taken up by drinks of various forms (including chai, craft beer and cocktails), but also had a selection of Indian, Indo-Chinese and non-Indian street food.

Part of the menu - there were also 30+ types of craft beer.

The setting was cozy and casual, with a natural look from the upcycled furniture made from coffee sacks, pallet boxes and tree trunks. Edison bulbs and plants on planks hung overhead. From other people's pictures, it appears quite magical at night with fairy lights too.

A hidden hideaway in Sandringham village.

The service was engaging and informative - the person who looked after us not only told us about the specials and provided details about the menu items, but shared interesting things like:
  • his parents own the four Satya restaurants
  • the chai lounge has been around for about 6 months (the spice shop somewhat longer, and the restaurant next door has been there for 16 years), but it had a quiet start as it didn't have all the signage out the front
  • he decorated the place over the space of a month while his parents were on holiday, with help from his friends (one of whom works at a landscaping business and another at Allpress coffee)
  • the reason there are Chinese-sounding items such as fried rice is because India and China are close to each other, and Chinese immigrants have influenced Indian cuisine
  • idli and dosas are traditionally eaten for breakfast
We were also invited to take a look at the spice shop in the next room, a corner of which was being used to cook our food. Apart from spices and teas, you could also buy idli and dosa batter from the fridge!

Spice shop area.

What we had included:
  • Spiced buttermilk ($2) - this was a savoury and refreshing drink, seasoned with coriander leaves and spices
Spiced buttermilk.

  • Masala chai ($1 small, $2 larger) - we ended up ordering another one of these because we loved the blend of flavours in this milky tea
Masala chai.

  • Vegetable manchurian ($12) - these freshly fried balls were delicious! The sweet soy flavour of the brown sauce went well with the spicy and gingery bites.
Vege manchurian.

Overall, we were stoked to have stumbled upon our first chai lounge in Auckland, where you can relax, snack on tasty food, and choose from a wide selection of drinks. Others have even apparently played a game of carrom there, but we don't need entertainment to entice us back for another visit!

Store Details

Satya Spice and Chai Shop
515a Sandringham Road, Sandringham
(09) 845 8451
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