Jesse Mulligan Restaurant Recommendations: Where To Eat In Commercial Bay; Where I Buy Indian Spices

By Jesse Mulligan
Gochu’s cold noodles with white kimchi, seaweed, egg yolk and pickled radish. Photo / @Gochugotyou

In this fortnightly series, Viva’s resident dining-out editor shares his sage advice on exactly where to eat. He’s eaten a lot of bad meals so you don’t have to.

Do you have any restaurant-related questions or dining-out conundrums? Jesse Mulligan is here to help.

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Here are some questions he’s been asked lately and what he told them.

Gochu offers a variety of food choices packed with flavour. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Gochu offers a variety of food choices packed with flavour. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Hi Jesse,

My parents are visiting Auckland and I think my mum is gonna drag me and Dad around Commercial Bay for most of the afternoon. Can you recommend somewhere to eat nearby afterwards? I don’t think we’ll do the full Ahi sit-down dinner but somewhere casual for a nice glass of wine and something tasty would be cool.

Thanks so much for this service! Sarah

Hey Sarah,

I’m going to send you all to Gochu, a beautiful half-restaurant on the second floor of Commercial Bay. I say half-restaurant because there is technically a hallway running through it but you wouldn’t know it from the quality of service, the excellent and highly trained wait staff crossing that high-traffic corridor like a teenager playing Frogger in the 80s.

The food is incredibly good — “modern Korean”, technically, which means flavour upon flavour upon flavour with few rules about what can and can’t be done. Do get the milk bun — a surprisingly firm structure that you slice in half to reveal a soft, pillowy interior and Korean-spiced beef baked into it. You then pour a jug of warm beurre blanc (a rich, French white sauce you’d probably most often see with asparagus) sloppily over the bun and have a munch. It’s messy but beautiful.

Hi Jesse,

I’ve seen you talk about cooking Indian food a lot and I wondered if you had any tips for a first-timer? I fear the box of cumin powder I bought from Pak‘nSave is not going to cut it.


Hi Matthew,

I’m a total amateur myself but an enthusiastic one. I got a lot out of the local book A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That which features a mum and daughter sharing recipes from the Gujarati province. As you suspect, one huge difference you can make to your cooking is buying spices directly from an Indian store (I go to Mahadeo’s behind the Mahatma Gandhi centre in Newton, or Hobson Street’s A1 Spice in a pinch) — once you’ve inhaled the lemony scent of fresh coriander seeds you’ll never go back to the supermarket. Auckland-based cook and food guide Perzen Patel reckons one of the most significant changes you can make is to use ghee instead of oil — it’s widely available these days. She also implores you not to skimp on the onion frying time.

I can tell you from experience that if you use a good recipe, buy authentic ingredients and devote half your afternoon to prep, your curry will still only taste half as good as a bought one. But that’s still pretty good. Remember there’s no shame in taking a shortcut and picking up a jar of Sid Sahrawat’s Cassia range instead. Look out also for Banu’s Chilli Oil, a locally made spice bomb that super-charges almost any dish!

Onslow's interior boasts small extravagances. Photo / Babiche Martens
Onslow's interior boasts small extravagances. Photo / Babiche Martens

Hi Jesse,

I saw you lamenting the disappearance of the Onslow steak the other week. I loved it too! Did you ever find out what happened? I haven’t been back to Onslow since it opened, is it worth another look?


Hey Graham,

Yeah, Onslow is humming — so busy they’re now open six nights a week (remember that next time you need somewhere to eat out on a Monday), and five lunches. Last time I visited Josh Emett himself was at the helm (impressive given how much time his new venture Gilt must be taking up). He tells me the scotch was simply too tricky to keep cooking the way they cooked it (they would sous vide the entire fillet then slice and finish it to order) but hinted there will be some exciting new steak options at his new bistro.

In the meantime do go back to Onslow. The room is flash as, the staff are very, very good and the food is indulgent and beautiful. I tasted my first asparagus of the season there with a glass of Neudorf Albarino which matched perfectly. Then a plate of cumin-rubbed duck breast with duck leg meatloaf (apparently the exec chef has returned from a US trip with a hankering for it), alongside braised red cabbage, witlof, parsnip puree and intense duck jus. Incredible!

Viva dining-out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens
Viva dining-out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

What you’ve asked, what he’s shared.

Dining Rooms With A View; Best (Inexpensive) Lunch In Auckland’s CBD. Because eating a city lunch can sometimes feel like another work chore.

Where To Find Great Indonesian Food; Review Regrets. One reader asks: Do you ever regret writing a bad review (or a good one)?

Where To Go For A Good Steak & A Big Work Dinner. The answer for a 20-strong group: A veritable feast for $70 a head.

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