Bikanervala Henderson branch
It’s always so very exciting when a new eatery opens in West Auckland. Things are getting better but this part of Auckland is still a little bit shy on ethnic diversity in restaurants and cafes.
We have been to Bikanervala (a big Indian chain that has come to New Zealand) before in White Swan Road but I guess every branch of any franchise is slightly different so we thought it worth checking out the new Henderson outpost too. We were not disappointed.
Even though it’s open day and night, it looks more like a cafe than a restaurant. There’s a massive cabinet groaning with Indian snacks and sweets and also an extensive menu. We loved the very cool chairs and tables and gorgeous water jugs too.
In the interest of trying as much as possible in one hit we ordered the Special Thali ($9.90) and the Chennai platter ($15.50). The special thali came with fresh roti and a poppadom as well as the standard silver bowls filled with rice, lemon soaked onions, dal makhani, raita and a vegetable curry. As with any good thali, everything complemented each other and you could achieve the perfect bite with combinations like rich, creamy dal and sharp tangy onions or tasty veggie curry with sour mango pickle to cut through.
Thalis and platters are perfect if you are not familiar with South Indian fare and even though we are, we loved the variety in the Chennai platter. It came with a Masala Dosa, Uttapam, Vada, Idlis, Sambhar and the chutneys to go with. The Masala dosa was good, the rice/lentil batter crepe was thin and crispy but not overdone and the curried potato filling had a wonderful comforting flavour. It was fairly mild meaning you could dial it up to whatever heat you wanted with the Sambhar (a spicy lentil based thin soup with a hint of tamarind). It was in a triangle shape rather than the rolled version we often see around Auckland.
The idlis were great too – soft, spongy steamed rice/lentil flour cakes they too were wonderful with the Sambhar. The Vada were very deep fried making them super crispy on the outside almost like an overdone savoury doughnut. I possibly prefer my Vada little less crunchy but they were still delicious and we ate them both.
I am a huge fan of Uttapam (a thicker spongier version of a dosa), and this one was pretty good. I found the onions a little raw but it was still enjoyable. This whole meal would be a feast for anyone who is gluten free, as wheat didn’t feature once.
Bikanervala remained busy the entire time we were there, with a steady stream of people coming in for sit down and take out. We are very excited to have some good South Indian and Indian street food available so close and are very keen to go back and try the items off the snack menu. We saw someone order the Bhalla Papdi and it looked drool-worthy covered in yoghurt and tamarind sauce.
Bikanervala may be a chain but it pumps out some pretty good food. We’re excited to see where in Auckland they’ll pop up next.