Khao San Eatery & Bar
Newmarket welcomes the second outpost of this vibrant Asian fusion eatery and bar.
Former SkyCity sous chef Nat Harrington has graced Newmarket's Davis Crescent cul-de-sac with the hip and casual Khao San — the second Auckland outpost of the Asian fusion bar and eatery. Stepping into the bright space, we were immediately greeted by smiley and attentive staff and giant cocktail umbrellas in every colour hanging from the ceiling, as well as a colourful graffiti mural by Enuake Sirikige. The vibe is lively and energetic, and will transport you in a way that makes you feel like you've left your passport at home.
Attention was quickly diverted to the cocktail list, where we started with the Bangkok Kiss Kiss. The whisky-led cocktail certainly packs a punch. As a sake lover himself, Harrington's pick is the sake-based Red Moon cocktail. The wine list is dominated by New Zealand wines, with plenty of options available by the glass.
The small plates section boasts all the familiar favourites, from prawn shu mai ($14) to sashimi ($17) — in this instance featuring fresh salmon swimming in an original Wa Zap dressing. We opted for the tiger prawn wraps ($12), and upon first bite of the sweet plump prawns wrapped in spinach leaf, dressed with toasted coconut and peanuts and drenched in a delicate Miang Kham dressing, it became a race to who would get to eat the last tasty morsel. Also on the 'not to be missed' list are drunken noodles and the famous Khao San Project deep-fried chicken wings ($12) perfectly paired with sweet chilli sauce.
The variety of the larger dishes could please even the fussiest of eaters, ranging from a lamb shank massaman curry ($26) to green curry mussels ($24) and Thai staples such as pad Thai ($22) and chicken/pork larb ($22). The consensus at our table was to order the wagyu Panang curry ($30) which was an exceptional rendition of the classic dish with its slow-cooked brisket in a creamy coconut gravy. It would be rude not to mop up any remaining sauce with the soft roti ($4), which is akin to a buttery layered paratha. We overzealously ordered the pork belly Asian greens ($22) too — the crisp, sweet pork belly was a marriage made in heaven with the fluffy jasmine rice.
This unpretentious eatery served up one of the best meals I'd consumed (inhaled) in quite some time. The value for money is excellent and the depth of flavours are layered and rich.