Archive | March, 2012

Brito Mart – Auckland, NZ

5 Mar

Nestled amongst industrial buildings and mid-rises in Auckland city, hidden from the waterfront, is Brito Mart, a great example of the burgeoning arts / fashion / foodie scene in Auckland.  Having traipsed around the city in the search for a trendier dining venue, my colleague (AC) and I arrived at Brito Mart train station without a clue as to where this supposed hipster nirvana could be found.  Certain that the SubWay and local train coffee shop were not the Brito Mart we set out to discover, we circled the vicinity several times and were just about to give in when a small black sign pointed us to a Vietnamese restaurant housed in an old industrial building.  And suddenly Brito Mart revealed itself.

Consisting of a handful of trendy restaurants, bars and independent boutiques, Brito Mart showcases the best of NZ talent, and whilst the idea is not entirely unique (cue the recent spate of ‘pop ups’, food vans, etc.) it was certainly a welcome discovery for AC and I as we were quickly tiring of our favourite haunts (e.g. The O’Connell Bistro – the rabbit pappardelle was a favourite!).

Having scoped out the offerings and keen to give our feet a rest (in particular for me the preggie lady) we settled on Ebisu – a modern Japanese joint housed in a cavernous warehouse space just across the road from the water.  Now you may think that Japanese is an odd choice for a pregnant lady, but having perused the menu there was plenty of cooked foods on offer (and thank you to AC who refrained from tempting me with my only pregnancy craving – raw fish).

Built mainly around the concept of izakaya style eating (adapted to modern NZ tastes of course) we shared agedashi tofu, soft shell crab, smoked eel sushi, pork belly and for dessert the most divine little apple donuts.  All came beautifully presented on an assortment of sleek japanese crockery – visually it was a win already!

Agedashi Tofu

Soft Shell Crab

Smoked Eel Sushi

The agedashi tofu was s real highlight – 5 perfect blocks of firm but soft tofu, lightly battered and with a drizzle of the sweet sauce (not swimming in sauce as is the commonly served dish in your average Japanese joint), topped with thin slivers of spring onion.

The soft shell crab was incredibly fresh and juicy.  Perfectly touched with a light smattering of batter (rather than smothered) and served with a light mayonnaise it needed nothing else – any more condiments would have ruined that beautiful crab flavour.

The sushi was average at best – although the other sushi and sash ini which we saw served at other tables looked fresh, the eel was not a strength on this night.

Pork Belly

Pork belly came as 5 cubes of tender (but not falling apart) blocks of meat with a light soy / teriyaki glaze.  Whilst it was tasty, the sauce overpowered the dish little and the consistency across the 5 cubes was not great.  My first piece was quite solid, not quite melt in the mouth but with a bit of bite to it.  My second piece was almost entirely fat – to the point of not being really consumable.

Apple Donuts

No meal is complete without dessert, but given we were both quite full, AC and I decided to share the apple donuts – and i am sure glad we did.  Piled high in a little bowl with a side of oozy chocolate sauce and ice-cream, the sugar covered golden parcels looked delectable.  Biting into the donut, one was surprised to find a juicy chunk of apple – with barely any dough at all.  The sweetness of the sugar coating and the slightly tart apple provided a fantastic flavour combination and made you feel just a little less guilty about consuming deep fried balls of dough.  I am not really one for desserts generally, but this really hit the spot!

Impressed by our first Brito Mart experience, AC and I ventured back the next night to try some more Auckland delights.  This night we settled on tapas at Agents & Merchants – although once again we had trouble locating it in one of the lane ways of the precinct (it almost made it feel like we were in Melbourne – almost).  Rustically fitted out with old wooden floors, booth seating and french louvered windows, Agents & Merchants is really more a bar serving up some good share plates. AC and I shared an assortment of small plates, including meatballs, arancini, grilled eggplant and the requisite bread and dips (pesto, olive tapenade and harissa) – and whilst nothing to write home about, it was a perfectly comfortable place to spend a couple of hours winding down.

Its a shame it took us so long to find Brito Mart – out f the 5 weeks spent in Auckland, we only managed to find it on the last two nights. Nevertheless its definitely worth a visit for a bit of NZ shopping, wining and dining!

Ebisu

116-118 Quay Street  Auckland, 1010, New Zealand

+64 9 300 5271

Agents & Merchants

Roukai Lane, 50 Customs St East, Britomart, Auckland

+64 9 309 5854

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