White + Wong's
While it may not be the most authentic Asian meal you'll ever enjoy, it may just be one of the tastiest.
Asian cuisine aficionados city wide need to get excited because the newest joint on Auckland's viaduct is serving up some damn fine fusion. Helmed by Good Group, the team behind Botswana Butchery and Harbourside, and occupying a previously unused space next to Crew Club, White + Wong's boasts a marriage of flavours from Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.
The look of the place belies its slightly silly name, slick and modern to the core and plenty of Asian influence in its bright colour schemes, dragon-themed private dining rooms and pale wood furniture. Service is excellent off the bat, and the waiters almost swarm upon entry, saying friendly hellos, and seating us outside by the water. The deck is expansive and airy, with views of the harbour and plenty seating from bar stools to dinner tables, looking out over a dozen or so yachts as they slowly rock back and forth with the waves. It's the perfect spot for a few cold ones, so luckily W+W's sport a decent list of premium beers, a couple crafty options, an impressive cocktail list and an even more impressive Kiwi heavy wine list.
When it comes time to order food you're guaranteed to struggle, as there's over 50 items on the menu — each of which look absolutely delicious. Upon fervent negotiation with my dinner companion, and consultation with our friendly waiter we went with the chicken gua bao (2 for $12), a steamed roll stuffed with crispy Asian-style fried chicken, pickled cucumber and wasabi mayo; a BBQ pork roti roll ($14), stuffed with slaw, coriander, mint lime and covered in a soy and sesame dressing, and then a massaman curry of lamb, with potatoes, peanuts and crispy shallots ($34).
The starters were both verging on glorious, with the roti roll being particularly amazing, dripping with juicy barbecue pulled pork and given an extra flavour punch thanks to a generous helping of coriander and whatever that amazing soy dressing was. The massaman had me in two minds however, as it tasted unlike any massaman curry I'd ever tried. Not as creamy or mellow as your average massaman; I was torn between thinking "this isn't really a massaman" and "oh my lanta this is delicious". An explanation for this can perhaps be found in the words of head chef Stuart Rogen, speaking on his attitude towards Asian fusion, "We're not purists, so if it's tasty, White + Wong's are steaming it, frying it and serving it up fresh and fast."
While it may not be the most authentic Asian meal you'll ever enjoy, it may just be one of the tastiest. So next time I visit I won't worry about the curry tasting a little different, or being wrong in the purist sense.