A one-minute stroll from the shores of Takapuna Beach, at the intersection of the coastal suburb's main streets you'll find Tok Tok; a new vision in Southeast Asian dining from the people behind Le Vietnamese Kitchen. Named after the three-wheeled taxis/deathtraps common throughout Southeast Asia, the menu here fuses Filipino, Singaporean, Thai and Vietnamese with mouthwatering results.
Tok Tok's interior is a clever amalgamation of Asian motifs with tubular neon lights, paper lanterns and a bar made almost entirely of repurposed window shutters. It's a rather successful attempt at combining distinctly Asian knick knacks and design practices to create a large space which oozes a quirky oriental charm. Then there's the deck: massive, airy, and covered in mini palms and comfortable booth seating.
Waiters swarm upon entry (perhaps a little overeager after a few early reports of poor service surfaced), seat us quickly and dispense advice on how the menu works, including recommendations on its best items. I suggest you listen as the recommended meals were so delicious they had me praising Buddha and buying plane tickets to Thailand at the dinner table. For a snack, try the popping prawns ($15), cooked to perfection and covered in crunchy curry leaves, chilli and almond. Or the pork belly salad ($18) a neatly presented plate of wok fried belly, peanut, pickled papaya and nahm jim; a fresh and zesty salad unlike any you've tried before. Wash it all down with one of several local vinos on the wine list, or perhaps a pint of ice cold Tiger, the quintessential Southeast Asian lager.
When it's time for the main event, try everything you can. However, if you don't have a stomach the size of a water buffalo, go for the crispy hapuka ($29), a dry red curry which bursts with flavours of ginger, chilli and a medley of Asian herbs. After rabidly inhaling several curries and sides, I had to reluctantly forgo dessert in order to avoid risking a terminal food coma. If you manage to show more restraint during your initial courses (good luck with that), the bay leaf panna cotta ($13) with banana caramel and peanut praline comes recommended and looks absolutely delicious.
Upon leaving and paying a surprisingly modest bill, my fellow curry enthusiasts suggested that Tok Tok was perhaps the best Southeast Asian restaurant on the shore, despite the presence of a certain Madam down the road (Madam who?). Either way if you're fond of Southeast Asian cuisine, or just delicious things in general pop off to Tok Tok and experience it for yourself.