1: Bian Sushi and Donburi
183 Symonds St, Newton
The perfect place to eat dinner before a Powerstation gig, Japanese restaurant Bian boasts a brilliant dinner-only bento box for $23 or $25. Also in Bian's favour - they'll let you BYO beer at $1 corkage per bottle (a bottle of wine is $3). Only suitable for a couple or group of four at a stretch, the tiny Symonds St haunt is walking distance to the aforementioned live music venue and other city hot spots. The fresh sushi selection, served in single pieces, is also worth getting into if you're stopping by during the day.
2: KK Malaysian
463A Manukau Rd, Epsom
Always heaving. You will want to book ahead if you're keen to sample the tasty Malaysian fare at KK. The plates are very generous, we suggest picking three spicy dishes and sharing the spread with a small group. If you're a first-timer, we suggest the KK Special Chicken and the Beef Rendang, both $20. BYO a bottle of dry white wine to match your Malaysian feast and they will charge $2 corkage per person.
3: Pane e Vino
20 Williamson Ave, Ponsonby
Great for large groups, Pane e Vino offers hearty Italian fare, charming service and a blackboard full of specials (get the vegetarian ravioli when it's on offer). You need to book on weekends, even if you're only after a cosy table for two. There is a private room that can be booked out the back with a special set menu (we can vouch for it as a great space) or request a table in the front covered courtyard if you're expecting a jovial crowd of more than half a dozen. Corkage comes in a little steeper at $8.
4: Canton Cafe
477 New North Rd, Kingsland
If you're going to visit Canton we reckon you must round up a crew of at least six to sit around a Lazy Susan and get stuck into sharing some delicious Chinese food. The place is always packed so be sure to book, even during the week - and if some of your mates are rowdy, ask for a table upstairs. The Peking duck is really good (from $26), the sweet and sour is tasty ($24) and we also go for the stir-fried egg noodles with barbecue pork ($19). Corkage is only $2 per person. The plates are particularly generous so don't go too crazy (or if you do, fight with your friends over the doggy bag).
17 Great North Rd, Ponsonby
It might not look that flash from the outside, but we've had plenty of fun BYO dinners at this South Indian restaurant. There are four Satya restaurants and they are suitable for a couple or a larger group - this one, just off the top of Ponsonby Rd, was our regular. To start with, make sure you order a plate of the Dahi Puri ($9.95 for 6 piece). These little potato, chickpea, tamarind, spiced morsels topped with yogurt are our favourite. The service can be a little slow, but very friendly. If you're into spicy food don't be afraid to ask for it hot, we have found the curries sometimes a little too mild for our taste.