Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

The chef recommends...

Some of our top chefs name their favourite places to eat, many of them quite cheap, reports Nicholas Jones.

Spicy House in Dominion Rd is one of a host of restaurants in what could be called New Zealand's culinary strip. Photo  / Sarah Ivey
Spicy House in Dominion Rd is one of a host of restaurants in what could be called New Zealand's culinary strip. Photo / Sarah Ivey

It may be a better guide to eating out than how busy the restaurant is - where do our top chefs choose to go for a meal?

A book has answered that question by asking some of the most esteemed chefs for their restaurant recommendations.

And while the fine dining establishments that regularly make "best restaurant" lists feature, some options are cheap and cheerful - and could be in your neighbourhood.

The publishers of Where Chefs Eat asked more than 400 chefs around the world to recommend where to eat, when to go, and what to order.

Dominion Rd could lay claim to being the culinary strip of New Zealand, scoring six recommendations, four of them in the budget price range.

The road's cheap eats included Japanese restaurant Banzai, recommended by Michael Meredith, and Chinese restaurant Spicy House.

Dumpling fans are advised to go to New Flavour or nearby Barilla Dumpling House for a ridiculously cheap late-night meal.

Also on Dominion Rd, but in a different price range, is Merediths, praised in the book for its range of flavours from Northern European to Southeast Asian.

Closer to the city, Karangahape Rd institution Coco's Cantina was put forward by Al Brown as an "eccentrically decorated space" with a mature and affordable selection of Italian food and drink.

And Sal's, which sells New York-style pizza for $4 a slice, was recommended by Benjamin Bayly of the Grove restaurant - itself one of book's recommendations.

Mr Bayly told the Herald it was important to find eateries - high end or hole-in-the-wall - which had consistently high standards.

"Places like Vevo up in Titirangi - you know whether the owners are there or not, you go there and you'll have the perfectly poached egg."

He said Auckland's multicultural mix meant there were fantastic ethnic restaurants scattered around the city, all well worth a trip across town.

"They have to have a certain amount of care and attention to detail ... that philosophy that you have in a top-end restaurant, otherwise you'll be a flash in the pan."

As a chef he was often asked for tips on where to eat out, and he said such recommendations were increasingly important in the trade.

"You might get a good review, it doesn't mean you're going to be busier the next day. There's so much choice."

South of the Bombay Hills, the book's tips range from the famously fresh seafood at Fleur's Place in Moeraki, to "Aotearoa burger legend" Fergburger in Queenstown.

- NZ Herald

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