Three little stars - they were probably red once. And the neon strip lighting around them probably glowed once too, with that kind of galactic hope that cropped up in 90s architecture, reaching for the millennium, like the gaudy planetary spire still sitting like an alfalfa atop Queen St's Sky City Metro.
The stars that still hover over Mercury Plaza have faded now, and years of motorway fumes run in dirty streaks down the stucco teal band below. But anyone who's fallen for this place – and that includes Richie McCaw – has never been fussed about its dilapidated state.
Of course, when it opened in 1994, Mercury Plaza would have been as snazzy as its name. But it's long been a food court of a bygone era - where ceilings were Saturday Night Fever-patchworks of too-bright lights, menus were numbered photos tiled around tiny counters like bingo boards, and plastic translated to fast and cheap – and that was all.
Sure, you can still get a taste of it at Albert St's Food Alley (Rat Alley to frequent patrons) and, to a lesser extent, Ponsonby Central. But while other food courts were adding planter boxes and bamboo cutlery, Mercury Plaza held fast to its original fixtures.
As it heads for closure this week, making way for a future its star-studding sign-designer likely envisaged as more hover boards than underground trains, we paid a final visit to sample the best of what's left.
Sandwiched between giant shoulders of rugby greats is the grinning face of Tony Chan. It's a picture Chan has posed for many times, and strung-up in laminated lines above the little corner store he opened with his wife, Ming Chan.
When we ask him how long he's been turning out his Mercury Plaza barbecue pork and making friends with All Blacks, he tells us, "Longer than you've been alive."
Well, bless you Mr Chan because when you opened in 1994 one fo us was already eight years old, the other almost four.
Since then, Chinese Cuisine has become as much famed for it's celebrity fans - The All Blacks reportedly ate here before every World Cup match in Auckland - as it has its menu.
Barbecue pork is the most popular dish and Tony tells us the boys in black order it served in steaming wonton soup. So we order that too.
It's a flawless dish, really: the pork fat balanced by sharp notes in the broth and the silken wonton casings cut by fresh slips of bok choy.
When we ask Tony where he'll go after he shuts up shop on October 20 he grins and tells us to follow him on Facebook.
New Gum Sarn Asian supermarket
On a good day you'll find some of the cheapest avocados in town here. On a bad it's a trough beyond guacamole dancing with fruit flies.
Every day it's the spot for a $4.90 bottle of Kirin to wash down your Pad Thai - and although we've done this many times before, the cashier tells us alcohol in the food court is not allowed.
We take our seats, defeated.
A woman at one of the food stalls scurries over with a bottle opener ...
The Thai Issan & Vietnamese food stall touts their Fried Kwai Teow Chicken as their most popular dish.
Served piping hot with an oily sheen, the $13 vegetable and noodle dish is topped with chicken, beef or pork (if you're a guts you can go for all three).
This is the type of meal you should reserve for a dusty Sunday afternoon when you can climb straight back into bed afterwards, enveloped in a cosy food coma.
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Fans of E-Sarn Wok will still be able to get their fix at the recently opened store in Mission Bay.
Ruang Thong Thai
The Pad Thai here is one you'll want to share: a hefty nest of noodles tangled with curly fat prawns, it comes out hot and glistening in a sweet dark sauce.
Served up since 1999, the woman behind the counter tells us even though there's another store in Mt Albert, not all of the staff from Mercury Plaza will go to work there. And they certainly won't get the same sort of clientele: "It will be sad," she tells us, looking down and wiping the same spot on the counter. "Lots of rugby players and super stars came here."
They used to sell containers of some of the best kimchi in town here. But as the Koreaunts prepare to shut up shop, go for their bibimpab - rice bowls topped with vegetables and a fried egg - or a spattering hot plate of barbecue squid on rice. With that spicy Gochujang tang, this dish is also best washed down with an illicit bargain beer.
The last Mercury Plaza stores close for good this Saturday, October 20, and the building will be demolished to make way for a new train station as part of the Auckland City Rail Link.