The top 5 must-try dishes at restaurants in Auckland

As one of the world's most multicultural cities, Auckland’s culinary scene is as diverse as it is delicious. Now in its fourth year, Iconic Auckland Eats celebrates the best of dining out in Auckland as nominated by the locals. Here are five award-winning dishes you need to try in 2024.

  • Author

    Natalie Clement
  • Last updated

    Mar 2024
  • Time to read

    5 mins

1. Ika Mata at Homeland

Nominated by Tracy Berno, Ika Mata from Westhaven restaurant Homeland is a celebration of Pacific culture.

“I have lived and worked in the Pacific for over 30 years,” shares Tracey. “I've researched Pacific food; I've written books on it. The ika mata at Homeland is hands down my favorite ika mata out there.”

The traditional Polynesian dish consists of raw fish marinated in lemon or lime, diced vegetables, and coconut milk. Layered textures, vibrant colors, and unexpected elements like curry leaf oil and chili ginger jelly have scored Homeland a spot in this year’s Iconic Auckland Eats.

“Whenever I have out-of-town or country guests, I always take them to Homeland, and I always order (at least one) ika mata for them to try. I can't imagine a dish that better represents our beautiful city.”

2. Malaysian Tom Yum Soup by Chef Rasa Sayang

Over the shore in Birkenhead, Chef Rasa Sayang's Malaysian Tom Yum Soup was nominated by Joyce Choi. 

“When I first encountered the Malaysian tom yum soup, it was on a crisp winter evening in Auckland. My family and I sought solace in the cozy ambiance of Chef Rasa Sayang,” explains Joyce. “As the bowl of tom yum soup arrived, I felt like I was about to embark on a journey. The vivid red broth tantalized my senses, and the scent of Malaysian spices transported me to the bustling streets of Kuala Lumpur.”

The dish is an adaptation of the Thai favourite, known for its comforting blend of hot and sour flavours. Tom Yum soup was introduced in Malaysia in the 1980s and is now popular on many menus, but the one at Chef Rasa Sayang is a must-try.

“It's a taste of our city's diversity, culture, and shared experiences, all beautifully wrapped up in a steaming, flavourful bowl of soup.”

3. The Aucklahoma Burger at Kane's Burger Club

Open from Wednesday evening to Sunday, Kane's Burger Club in Te AtatÅ« South is a local favourite famed for its smashed burgers and fluffy buns. 

Caleb Webb’s go-to on the menu is inspired by the classic American flavours of the Oklahoma fried onion burger. Aptly named the Aucklahoma, it’s a smashed brisket patty with onion, cheese, and sauce sandwiched between a toasted brioche bun.

“The Aucklahoma burger at Kane's Burger Club isn't just a dish on the menu for me; it's a culinary journey that mirrors my own connection to Auckland, intertwining local flavours with a touch of nostalgia,” Caleb shares.

The familiar flavours coupled with the restaurant’s laid-back vibes make Kane’s Burger Club a standout for Caleb. “The vibrant atmosphere and the friendly faces that greet me each time I walk through the door add a layer of warmth to this culinary experience.”

“The moments spent there with friends are special, and through the story of Kane, it's a reminder that through tough times, we can persevere and something great can come. This burger has become a part of my Auckland story, a symbol of the city's diverse culture and the joy of discovering unique and delicious dishes.”

4. Carnitas Taco Bundle at La Mexicana

For authentic Mexican food, try one of La Mexicana’s two eateries in Grey Lynn or Milford. On the menu, you'll find delicious tacos composed of homemade corn tortillas, slow-cooked fillings, and fresh marinades.

Fernanda, an Auckland local, chose the Carnitas Taco Bundle for the Iconic Auckland Eats award, which she credits with reconnecting her to her culture after moving from Mexico to New Zealand to finish high school.

“I wasn't sure if I was meant to be proud of being Mexican or if I had to abandon that part of myself to fit in,” Fernanda shares.“The first time I went to La Mexicana, I was transported back to my hometown's local taqueria. I was a little doubtful about the food just because there are a lot of Tex-Mex restaurants in New Zealand that claim to be authentic.”

“However, when I saw the first plate of tacos come out of the kitchen, I knew this was 100% authentic. I know it is silly to say a plate of food changed you, but those carnitas tacos really had an impact. This was one of the milestones for my cultural identity journey. I felt like my culture was worthy of being seen.”

5. Portuguese Egg Tart at Yuan Taste

Tucked inside the Strand Arcade on Queen Street, Yuan Taste offers freshly baked Malaysian and Taiwanese treats. For Bee Keng Koh, their Portuguese egg tarts have become a must-have weekly treat.

“Many of us are familiar with Portuguese egg tarts, but the ones I am familiar with are the Macanese variety that I used to drive all the way from my home city of Singapore to Malacca to get,” Bee shares.

“There's a little shop in Malacca's Portuguese settlement that sells the best. The Macanese style is different from the pure Portuguese ones; they are not overly sweet and have a smoother, creamier custard.”

She says Yuan Taste has finally satisfied her 20-year craving for authentic Macanese-style Portuguese egg tarts - and may be even better!

Written by Natalie Clement

Last updated 12 Mar 2024

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