There's a new kid on the block in Mt Eden, but it's a familiar face for fans of South Indian restaurant Satya which has already made a name for itself at its three locations across central Auckland - K Rd, Ponsonby and Sandringham - as an excellent neighbourhood curry house.
Owners Swamy and Padmaja Akuthota consistently appear in Auckland's top restaurant lists, and I'm happy to report their new Mt Eden "branch" is up to the same standard as their other restaurants which all deliver delicious authentic food at reasonable prices.
Just down the hill a little from The Powerstation, the new digs are decked out with polished wood floors and colourful paisley high-backed chairs, enclosed with a sari-covered ceiling and warm, pink walls.
This intimate space feels a little more upmarket than their other restaurants - especially the Sandringham one, which is the one we most often frequent - and the quality of the dining experience proves the same.
The service is friendly and knowledgeable. Our waiter goes out of his way to explain how to put together our tasty entree, pani puri, which we choose because of its menu notation: "Action-packed treat, we might get addicted after two or three trials".
The puri are six crispy wheat shells which you break one side of to fill with a potato and chickpea mix and tangy tamarind water. There are other entrees with equally enticing descriptions - the mirchi bajji majaka (fresh green chillies treated with herbs dipped in pea flour batter and deep-fried, then cut open for chopped onion, lime juice, spices and green coriander) is a speciality of a southern Indian state called Andhra Pradesh and is "mouth-watering for hot food lovers", while the "value-added" samosa, with tamarind and date chutney, yoghurt, onion, tomato and South Indian spices is the "connoisseur's choice".
The mains arrive perfectly timed after the last crumbs of the entree have been hoovered up. The menu has a bewildering number of options, with no less than seven choices of dosa (savoury pancakes) and we go for the chicken option, which, even split in three, is a hefty undertaking for each of us. The pancake is light and fresh, and the slightly spiced chicken tender and scrumptious. It comes with four dipping sauces and some cashews, including a coconut chutney and a raita, but is so juicy and flavoursome it almost doesn't need them.
Our three choices of curry are all excellent and there is plenty left over for lunch the following day for at least one of us. The prawns in the thakali curry, cooked in spices and coconut, are juicy and fresh, while the fish in the hariyali curry - cooked with spinach, garlic and spices - is melt-in-the-mouth and super-tasty.
The butter chicken, one of my dining companions says, is always a must-order at Satya because they make one of the best of its kind in Auckland. Tonight's version doesn't disappoint - it is light and the flavours pop in your mouth. I haven't ordered a butter chicken in years, but this one is so good I reckon I'll ask for it every time I visit Satya in the future.
Or will I? Even though it feels like we've ordered an awful lot, we've barely scratched the surface of this eatery's enormous menu. You could eat here every day for a month and enjoy a different dish each night.
So, welcome to the Mt Eden neighbourhood, Satya and congratulations on your ever-expanding brood. We're very happy to see you continuing to spread across Auckland.
From the menu: Pani puri $7.95, chicken dosa $18.95, prawn thakali curry $18.95, butter chicken $16.95, hariyali fish curry $24.95.
Drinks: Inexpensive wine list with house wine by the glass $5.90.