Puha & Pakeha
In Auckland’s ever-growing international food scene, it is wonderful to visit a restaurant that is home to modern New Zealand food. Puha & Pakeha brings together the traditional cooking techniques and flavours of Maori cuisine with those of modern New Zealand cuisine. The result is a delicious flavour “fusion” created with aroha.
Puha & Pakeha is well-known on the food truck circuit. We searched out their new restaurant home on a late sunny Sunday afternoon. Here’s a tip: it is located at the T-intersection of Richmond Road and Surrey Crescent. The restaurant is small but beautifully formed and decorated in a simple and stylish Kiwiana decor.
The menu covers all the bases that most diners are looking for. Hearty dishes and lighter ones, something for meat-eaters and vegetarians. All are made with that little “something” that sets it apart from the norm.
We started off with one of the small dishes to share, the Kūmara & Coconut bites ($8). For some reason we didn’t order the Tua Tua Fritters ($12), although we wanted to try them (a return visit is in order). For mains we ordered the Piri Piri Chicken Salad ($12) and the Fish and Chips ($14).
We settled in at an outside table in the little courtyard at the front of the restaurant. Our food arrived after about 15 minutes and was “plated” in takeaway containers. These are compostable as is the cutlery.
Our bites arrived first and there were three to the serving. This meant that we had to negotiate over who had the third bite, but we cut it in half. The bite was made from hangi-smoked kumara which had been mashed and combined with coconut, then coated in panko crumbs. I loved the combination of smooth and crunchy textures, and the flavour of the kumara, although the coconut flavour eluded me.
Our mains were both excellent and good size portions. The fish of the day was terakihi, which had been coated in a horopito/kawakawa panko crumb. This was served with well-cooked fries and accompanied by tomato sauce and a handmade karengo tartare sauce. I didn’t get a taste of the fish, but the fries were nice and crunchy and not at all greasy.
My generous salad consisted of spicy horopito piri piri chicken, salad greens & crushed peanuts served with a handmade coriander & lime dressing. This was a very tasty and refreshing salad. I enjoyed the dressing which was creamy without being overly rich, although I could have used a little more salt to bring out the flavours (I am a self-confessed salt user).
I had resolutely avoided ordering dessert, but after chatting with co-owner Jarrad, I thought it would be rude not to try one. I can attest that the Kawakawa Meringue ($5) topped with whipped cream and drizzled with a manuka honey caramel sauce is not only beautiful to look at but absolutely delicious when I devoured it at home with a cup of tea.
Puha & Pakeha are creating beautiful food in a charming setting, and serving it with love. Visit them soon!