10 days around New Zealand (part 2) – Crystal Harbour Restaurant
After some research before jetting over, I found many nice restaurants would be closed during the holiday period, and given we weren’t particularly inclined to dine at any place with a Christmas set menu – one: it is generally a rip off, two: quality is likely to be lower – we decided on betting our money on some trusty Chinese / Asian restaurants that are bound to be open when everyone else is closed. We drove rather aimlessly around a quiet Auckland City taking snap shots of the lovely City of Sails. Lucky for us we stumbled upon this quite newly open Chinese restaurant, tucked away on a side street away from the bustle (or lack thereof since everything was closed) of the harbour.
There is quite a huge offering on the menu, with items ranging from the normal $20-30 to the well over $400 shark fin dishes – something you will hardly see in Melbourne. Anyways, we decided to keep with a budget and refrain from going all out on 3 digit items =P.
Seated by the window, we caught the last gleams of light whilst we browsed the extensive menu.
They served a number of teas commonly served in Hong Kong – not so often seen in Melbourne. That’s a good start!
Yin Yang Prawns – extremely succulent with the slightest hint of garlic, chilli and a sweet note somewhat reminding me of BBQ sauce.
My parents were quite jovial when the rice came served in these heavy clay bowls. Underneath the pearly white long grains that were soft, fluffy and fragrant as anything, there was a crunchy crust of camarelised rice formed against the clay surface. Mmmm spoonfuls of awesome rice in the mouth just as is.
Extremely plump NewZealand scallops glistening with the slightest coat of oil, were paid due respect with a clean sauce that brought out the fresh succulence of the sea. They were the biggest treat in the mouth – soft, bouncy and very juicy. The crunchy bits of broken macadamias, carrot, celery and baby corn offered a nice textural contrast. Actually I take that back for the celery – I’ve never been a big fan of celery in stirfries. =P
Aren’t they georgeous!
A fragrantly simmering pot of tender but firm slices of beef (with no evidence of over tenderisation with baking powder), flanked with loose knots of fresh enoki and vermicelli at the base to soak up all that sweet meaty intensity… mmm.
As simple as this dish looks, this would actually have to be the dish that sits best on my taste buds – rustically homely yet fit for a classy restaurant. Crunchy but powdery lengths of coarsly cut taro in amongst a mince of prawn, chicken and more taro, coated with a lovely umami intensity from a base of chicken stock. Absolutely delicious! One side point: I would’ve liked the taro to be cut more evenly though, so that they can be steamed (cooked) more evenly. Though I didn’t exactly mind the mix of softer powdery bits contrasted with crunchier counterparts. (I’m such a hypocrit – haha)
Little cute fork-lets for dessert – reminds me of the ones we used when I was a kid. =)
Cubes of sweet, creamy and velvety coconut milk jelly/pudding. Extremely soft and delicate (very little if any agar) that hardly holds together on the flimsy fork-lets.
easily more than Yummy+1 (retrospective upgrade Yummy+2), with quite a promising menu I will likely award it a +2 if I were to come again, especially when they have firmly established their feet. Service is amicable, décor classy, and surprisingly scrumptious Cantonese food. I must say I was quite shocked (in a good way of course) that one could get such quality authentic Cantonese in a country with a population of 4.3 million people and 30 million sheep (Sorry to all the Kiwi readers, I couldn’t help but make that joke =P).
Actually it was so memorable (well at least relative to the fact that none of the highly reviewed places I wanted to visit were open for business), we returned on the last day for another bout of Cantonese food coma… to be continued
[Crystal Harbour Restaurant]
Where: 19 Market Place, Auckland, New Zealand
Contact: (09) 377 3773