Student prices, a community vibe and a good cause all intersect at Ngopi.
June 09, 2015
Not-for-profit cafe Ngopi immediately feels like somewhere other than the inner sanctum of Auckland. Everything from the street art entryway, the colourful pallets and the mismatched tables and chairs give off a creative scent that can usually be sniffed out around every corner in Wellington and Melbourne.
Instead of a moustached, coffee entrepreneur behind the DIY space, the cafe was actually founded by the House of Praise Church of New Zealand as a way to help charities on an ongoing basis. All profits are distributed between poverty and housing initiative Habitat For Humanity and anti-human trafficking organisation, The A21 Campaign. During their tight bracket of hours, it's run by a small number of core staff and a regularly rotating cast of volunteers, and - like you would imagine - the service is both humble and relaxed.
With the name Ngopi (ngo-pee) translating as an Indonesian term for drinking coffee, the caffeine treat is one of the sole contenders on the drinks list. Though, instead of your usual flat, short, long or fluffy, I suggest branching out and trying one of the Malaysian brood on offer. The Cham is a South-East Asian drink that does the unexpected and combines both tea and coffee, and either hot or cold. The latter is similar to an iced coffee, without the sickly cream, and has pleasant point of difference with addition of the milky sweetened tea.
Penang-born chef Albert runs the kitchen. Like his former restaurant in Ponsonby's International Food Court, the menu is made up of traditional Malaysian dishes including everything from: roti chanai, hainan chicken, char koay teow and nasi goreng. The nation's signature dish nasi lemak ($12.50) is a filling and reasonably healthy option for lunch; served with coconut rice and either beef rendang or chicken curry, as well as the traditional sides of anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg, cucumber and a mild sambal.
The comforting seafood laksa ($12.50) is served to the brim with broth, tofu, squid balls, two kinds of noodles and topped with a king prawn. By default, its spiced mild to medium and will aide in getting rid of those wintery colds.
The best part about all of the dishes is that they all come with a student price tag (between $10 - $12.50) and portion sizes of the gods. While the food is of a good standard, the highlights of Ngopi is the community vibe. Thanks to its central location and close proximity to Auckland Uni, you'll find people from all walks of life sitting amongst the tables. All that plus you make a difference with your purchase.
16 Anzac Avenue, Auckland CBD