Monday, 26 May 2014

Faro on Lorne Street


Greetings ladles and jelly-spoons!

 So our dual first food post will be on the Korean BBQ restaurant on Lorne St, in Auckland CBD. It's address is 5 Lorne Street, Auckland for those who have curious souls. It's relatively high end and the service is quite good. It gets really crowded around 7 ish so it is best if you make a booking if you want to make sure you get a table.

I know that's not much to go on so lets dive right into it:

Atmosphere: The restaurant is pretty big despite the entrance being deceptively average-sized and easy to miss. It's well-lit and there are little details that give the place a Korean feel to it,from things like the chairs and the wooden kitchen windows, to the more authentic touches such as the wallpaper, the screen doors, etc which we love as you feel like you've just walked into a nice little restaurant in Seoul. Having gone to this place sometime close to the winter season the warmth from the many grills operating at the time were a welcome addition. There is the issue of the place being a quite smoky from the BBQs because the fan tube can't suck up everything, so it's recommended to sit at a table nearer to the entrance. That being said , a down side to sitting near the entrance is that you may get additional smoke from cigarette users from outside. Try not to sit in a confined room, as it's a lot more smoky than the other tables due to the fact that there are no windows whatsoever and no ventilation other than the fan tubes.




Food: We had two orders of beef scotch fillet, one order of pork belly, one order of prawn and one order of ox tongue. These were all cooked on a charcoal grill just like the ones in Seoul (we've been there, we would know) as shown in the picture below and as mentioned before there's a vacuum from the ceiling to suck up the smoke (also shown in the picture below). Take note that the grill is really hot and simply radiates heat, so unless you thrive on that kind of temperature don't put your face too close to it (I know that's common sense but there are certain people out there...).


Side dishes are refilled for you for free which is a huge plus side for this place as the meats themselves usually aren't enough to fill a person up. When ordering a main (Beef, Pork etc) you are automatically eligible for seven side dishes. The side dishes are quite appealing and you really are fairly spoilt for choice with seven of them. Out of all the chestnut jelly one is usually the one that has to be replaced the most often. It has a delightful texture (for those who are into that kinda thing) and has a note quite salty but not overly sweet taste with a hint of nuttiness. From what we could tell from the menu (which is in Korean but with English subtitles) for another $20 you could get an extra two side dishes plus a salad and a traditional Korean soup that usually accompanies a BBQ so it really is up to the individual on whether they're going there for the whole experience or just for the basics.

The larger option for side dishes.

Personally I preferred the beef, because it has more taste than the pork. The ox tongue was also alright but I wouldn't order it on my own. I personally preferred the pork but that's simply because nowadays I find myself enjoying pork a lot more in general. Both meals were cooked to give them the best texture possible and none were under-cooked nor over done in any way. The pieces did vary, some were bite sized others were too large and had to be cut further so I think consistency is a small issue here.The ox tongue was nothing to rave about, and in terms of value for money was probably something that I regretted ordering.


Each person is given a dish with a small amount of salt on one side and a fair amount of some sort of sweet sauce on the other with a space for your meats in the middle. I think that the meats by themselves were fairly bland as they're not marinated (there is an option for marinated meats on the menu but this time we're just reviewing what we got) and dipping each bite of meat with a small amount of salt and then followed by the sweet sauce is the way I tend to go with eating it.

 



Presentation: Although this is a BBQ and food presentation is not a big thing, there is a fair amount to comment on in general. The grill, for example, is such a cool piece of cookware. The wire that the meat is cooked on is much better than in other BBQ places where it's a flat metal plate like some modern heating element. We love how that in Faro, you are able to see through and view the live coals underneath and the specific kind of grill that they use is very similar if not the same as the ones we saw while in Seoul, which adds an authentic feel to your meal. For the food itself however raw meat on a plate generally isn't very attractive unless you.. are into that kind of thing then this part is probably not for you. The side dishes, however, were presented neatly in little dishes.  However, seeing as it's a relatively high priced restaurant you would think the staff's uniform could be more professional than a colorful apron with their black clothing, maybe that's a Korean thing, but I know I've never seen that till now but feel free to leave me a comment below to let me know otherwise.

Service: The staff are very friendly and the owner himself interacts with all the customers too. Also, sometimes it takes a while for them to get back to you and although they cook the meal for you we have learnt from experience that sometimes the place gets too busy and that you should always keep an eye on your meat yourself if you don't want to be eating cinders. On that note a winning point for this restaurant is that if you don't know how to use the BBQ or you just want to relax and let someone else do it for you, this place is ideal because they usually take charge if you're a foreigner to these things (and by foreigner I mean anyone who's not Korean). One thing I would comment on is the fact that the staff don't ask if you want refills, like they do in Korea. Some customers may not be aware that you can refill for free, and when you show that you're willing to refill the side dishes, then it makes people feel more at ease. It was fairly awkward for us ask for refills so when it's offered it makes you feel like it truly is a service driven restaurant especially if it's something that they provide.



Price: The price was around $120+ for about five dishes . Unfortunately we didn't get a receipt so we can't give you the exact price but as you can tell it was fairly pricey. Not quite on the high fancy gourmet restaurants but at an average of about $24 a meal it wouldn't exactly be a student's first choice. If you went there with a group of people with small appetites, you might feel it's more worth the price. The side dishes are refilled for free, but as we mentioned above some people feel like it's quite awkward to ask for them so they generally won't. I suppose the money goes towards the service and the experience along with the authentic feel of the place as even with that kind of price tag on most nights this place is fairly packed.


Conclusion: Overall Faro on Lorne Street is a delightful restaurant to go to for many occasions. Perhaps not an intimate date setting (unless a smoky room with the smell of wine and cheap perfume is your idea of a romantic date) but definitely for a party, casual dinner (family or with friends) or for an authentic Korean BBQ experience. Their service is great and their food relatively well done. Everything about it, from the menus to the equipment used, screams authentic Korean restaurant and as we've mentioned many times before it's like stepping off the streets of Auckland and into Seoul. There are small things that we feel could be improved upon but in general this is really a one of a kind place that is probably only matched by their other branch out in the North Shore (though we have yet to try it). Recommended from their menu is the beef or pork (really depending on your preference at the time) and is further recommended to stay away from the luxury items such as ox tongue as they as add unnecessary cost for very little value.

Rating:  /10

Atmosphere:  9
Food:            6.5
Presentation:  7.5
Service:         7
Price:             5

Overall:  7/10

Thanks for reading this blog!!

The Lambs

Friday, 23 May 2014

Thai Village in Remuera

Greetings ladles and jelly-spoons, you all look radishing today!



You can probably tell by the pun at the beginning but it's Jia here. Sorry it's taken so long to get started on posting; it's difficult to have two people rating the same thing because you need to have some sort of consensus while writing and a similar schedule and Songie just couldn't fit it in. Therefore, I will be starting off our blog with a post all by myself~

As you can guess from the title, I will be reviewing Thai Village, a nice restaurant tucked away in Remuera Village. You can either walk to it from the main road of Remuera via a pathway with a nice garden gazebo type entrance that passes the bookstore, or go around via the parking lot. The parking lot is situated above the Countdown parking and the drive into it is right next to Countdown so don't get confused. Parking is free.

Anyway, getting straight into it;

Atmosphere

Even from before you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted with an exotic statue that provides an insight to what's inside. The waiters and waitresses are dressed traditionally, and the walls are full of gorgeous Thai embroidery and art. It makes you feel like you're in a completely different world from the one you stepped in from.The lighting is light and cheery except for a few corners that are slightly dimmer. While there is some background mood music, you have to listen hard to catch it, because it's a fairly lively restaurant. It's the type of restaurant that you can go to for a family dinner, a casual date or a small scale party. Probably not a place you'd want for a romantic date though. On the other hand it can get quite cramped given the layout of the furniture. I mean it's not like there's not enough space to walk around or that you can read the next table's menu, I just feel like I'm a bit boxed up.




 Food

I seriously hate when food takes a long time to come out, so I like this place because usually within 20 minutes of ordering the food will be served. The starters are pretty good and I'd probably recommend the Mieng Goong and the money bags. Mieng Goong is a dish that consists of a prawn, some rice noodles, lettuce and a sauce on a spoon. It's recommended to eat it in one bite so you get all the flavours and textures mixed in your mouth in one go. I really like the mix of the tangy sauce, the cool noodles and the fresh crunch of the lettuce. The moneybags seem just like cute spring rolls to me, just with the extra crunchy part on top where the skin has gathered, which is the part I personally love. The spring rolls and chicken satay are also but the spring rolls are nothing fantastic, they're pretty standard. The chicken satay is also quite standard but after having satay in Asia, nothing quite compares anymore. I don't feel like the chicken satay is worth it; there isn't a lot of meat and it's quite bland without the peanut sauce. I recently tried the prawn and pork on toast and I liked it; the pork and prawn combination in a mince form and then fried compactly on crunchy bread is actually good. However, it would probably be something I'd prefer to cook and eat at home rather than buy it.




(spring rolls and satay, Mieng Goong, prawn and pork on toast and money bags respectively)

For mains I've tried the stir fried cashew nuts duck, which is delicious. I love the colour and the mix of vegetables and meat in this stir-fry. The meat is boneless(Thankfully) and soft, and soaked in the sweet sauce. The cashew nuts aren't really my favourite part of the dish because I'm generally not fond of nuts in my food. Despite that, it does, complement the taste of the duck and the vegetables in the dish when eaten together. I find the carrot rose on the side a bit tough to eat because it's quite thick though.


I've also tried the green curry with beef, and while it does taste good(for the few seconds I can taste) I can't handle spice so I can't give you a good review on that, sorry. I've been told by spice-lovers that it's not hot at all though. I can, however, tell you that the beef was a bit overdone and dry in spite of being drowned in curry. It's not as rich as Indian curry and is a little on the bland side, especially when combined with rice which further dulls the taste.

 
The fried rice is nice though, and like all the other dishes, intensely colourful. It's not tasteless like some fried rice dishes that I've tried over the years; I would just call it generic fried rice with no special ingredients.

 
There's actually a lot of foods I would recommend you try but I haven't had them in a while. I'll give you the names anyway; flaming chicken(literally a chicken on a plate that's on fire haha), Pad Thai(obviously), and Choo Chee fish.

Dessert is usually a stressful affair me while I decide between desserts. The Hot Banana(banana fritters) is pretty good but I personally enjoy The Sunset(Mango sorbet on top of sago and coconut pieces) and East Meets West(sticky rice with traditional Thai custard on top with icecream). The East Meets West dessert has gone down in size since I first enjoyed it years ago(yes you can tell I'm a frequent customer here) but it still tastes great, with enough sweetness and texture to make me love it but not too sweet that it might put off a person who hasn't got a sweet tooth.

The Sunset is a cup filled with sago(tiny glutinous balls that don't have any taste but have a nice feeling to eat. Similar to the pearls you would get in pearl milk tea but on a much smaller scale) and coconut flesh which is slightly crunchy. It's topped with a bright orange-yellow mango sorbet that counters the tastelessness of the sago with its tangy flavour. I do warn you that it's better to share between two if you're full from dinner because it's really filling.
(The Sunset. They ran out of sorbet that day so they replaced it with the icecream of my choice)

 Presentation

In general I find the presentation of this restaurant really sweet. They make edible decorations like carrot flowers(as shown in photos above), or some beautiful arrangement with the fruits that may come with your dessert(not shown in the photos above). Songie thinks the dishes are inconsistent but I personally think it's fine, because the plates that we personally use are the same. The dishes that the food comes out of the kitchen on may differ at times but it's  not a vastly different design, it's usually just a plain plate or with a different texture to it, and I don't think they're the sole restaurant to do this.

 Service

The service is generally quite good, exception of busy nights when it takes a while for the waiter/waitress to notice you, especially if you are tucked away in a corner. The staff are usually friendly and so is the owner. However, my brother and I have noticed on a number of occasions, that there seems to be a gap in the level of service for certain ethnicities. Occasionally the waitress forgets to put her game face on and doesn't seem to have enthusiasm about serving us(can't think why, we're obviously awesome ;P no, but really I don't think we're hard to deal with) . It may be coincidental but it has happened more than once so it is definitely something we wonder about.
 Price

I'd say the prices are fairly reasonable, because of the location of the restaurant, and the food isn't bad. Also, it depends on what you decide to eat. For one person, a general 3 course meal(appetiser, main and dessert) would probably be about $50 max, unless you really eat heaps. Not an entirely minimum-wage-earning-student-friendly restaurant, perhaps more for a family dinner, date or business meeting. It is pretty expensive though considering other Thai places on Remuera, but they are more reputable and better situated.

Rating: /10
Atmosphere: 7
Food: 7
Presentation: 8
Service: 6
Price: 6.5

6.9/10

In conclusion I think it's a good place to go for dinner and while I'm not a fan of all the dishes I am quite partial to the duck and the Mieng Goong. Oh, and the desserts. The presentation is neat and the food is up to standard if not exceptional. I love the d├ęcor that makes it feel exotic, and the convenience of free parking. The service may at times be lacking but in general the staff are friendly. The price may cause some to balk but given the location and the setting it's a rather reasonable restaurant. In any case, thank you for reading this review!

For those who want more information, you can go to their website here .

Just the one Lamb(to the slaughter? Just kidding.)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Lettuce Introduce Ourselves

Greetings, ladles and jelly-spoons! (this was so not my idea)

My brother, Song and I, Jia(as everyone seems to call me now...), have decided to start a food blog. This is sort of because we find ourselves eating out quite a bit and thought, well why not? People can check out our blog whenever they want to see what's out there to eat in Auckland, and how we rate it. Please please please note, this is what WE think of the food, how we feel as normal consumers. We are not in any sense professional food critics or anything, feel free to voice your opinion but don't judge us, sometimes we're right other times a lot of people won't agree with what we say, just saying.

A bit of background on us:

Jia:
I'm a second year Anthropology student at the University of Auckland, and I adore sweet food.Unfortunately due to genes I have to cut back on sweets or I risk future health problems. It's not that I don't love salty food though, I just seem to have more space when it comes to sweets. I can't handle spicy food though. I like travelling, reading, sleeping and taking photos that seem pointless to others.

Song: Hey guys! I have somehow been roped into this but it sounds like a fun idea and I reckon a useful source of info for everyone out there seeing as it's quite hard to find nice lengthy reviews on places especially around Auckland. So if this blog helps you come closer to a decision on where to eat in Auckland (or anywhere we go really) then we'll be really glad because a) someone reads this and b) we made a date night somewhat smoother than the usual "Where should we go?" "I don't know".

We probably wont be able to go to every cafe, restaurant and takeaway there is out there but we'll definitely have a range. That being said, we hope you'll find this blog helpful and you'll join us on our journey of eating our way through Auckland menus!!


For most of our posts (and by most she probably means all) the format we will be following is:

Atmosphere
Food
Presentation
Service
Price

Followed by an overall rating out of 10.

Also if you have any places you'd like us to check out then feel free to let us know in the comments or shoot us a message, we'll totally put it on our to-do list. So on that note, I echo my sister in saying that we hope you join us on our intrepid (and wallet emptying) adventure through eateries in Auckland, please, stay a while, have a coffee or two, we love to chat.

The Lambs

PS Those who are wondering about the subtle change in colors, Song is green and Jia is the black text colors.