Jesse Mulligan’s Auckland Restaurant Review: Thai Village Remuera Offers Opportunity For A Banquet

By Jesse Mulligan
Raw prawns, "beef waterfall" salad and crunchy pork are on the menu at Thai Village, Remuera. Photo / Babiche Martens


Cuisine: Thai

Address: 10/415 Remuera Rd, Remuera

Phone: (09) 523 3005

Drinks: Fully licensed

From the menu: Spicy prawns $18.50; Waterfall Beef $29.50; red duck curry $27.50; crunchy pork $28.50.

Rating: 15/20

Score: 0-7 Steer clear. 8-12 Disappointing, give it a miss. 13-15 Good,

After some years of patient waiting, I’m pleased to report that 1050 — Remuera’s flash new restaurant development named after the suburb’s postal code — is open and thriving. Wakuwaku and Spiga, two great restaurants forced for some time to run their businesses out of spaces the size of walk-in wardrobes, have sprawled into roomy new digs. And now here is Thai Village, a formerly cosy local that suddenly finds itself with a huge, modern dining area to fill.

Japanese, Italian and Thai — if you could choose three cuisines to eat for the rest of your life I don’t think you’d do better than that. Even better, this is pure Thai: not the sushi-here, dumpling-there fusion you find in most upmarket suburbs.

It’s been ages since I sat down to a menu like this, so long I’d almost forgotten the best way to order — something wet, something dry, something fresh, something spicy … your job is to create a multi-textural banquet comprising various meaty proteins.

The elevated dining room, located in the newly opened 1050 Remuera precinct. Photo / Babiche Martens
The elevated dining room, located in the newly opened 1050 Remuera precinct. Photo / Babiche Martens

Ideally, there’ll be somebody who knows the menu better than you to help you with this task but although the staff at Thai Village are generally fast and friendly, I wanted more engagement around the food. Our guy was happy to point us to a couple of the chef’s specialties but we were two hungry men clearly in the mood for a banquet, and the banquet didn’t happen.

We ended up with a couple of saucy dishes he recommended along with a beef salad and spicy prawns from the specials menu and then it was all over. How about some noodles, or rice, something deep-fried — or at least dry-fried? When it comes to the final order, the buck stops with us, the customer, but we’d leaned heavily on him to tell us if we’d got it right, and I’m not sure we should have.

When the savoury dishes were over, so was the service. I don’t know if they do desserts, because they were never mentioned. When I paid the bill I couldn’t get the staff very interested in any of my questions about the menu, or the history of the restaurant. It’s possible I’m the first person to want this level of conversation around what they were serving, but I think they should be willing to go there when somebody asks.

The "beef waterfall" salad. Photo / Babiche Martens
The "beef waterfall" salad. Photo / Babiche Martens

All of this aside, it was a full restaurant of happy locals, and aside from a little wine mix-up (the list is okay but not particularly exciting) things on the floor run very efficiently. And the food is crowd-pleasing, with enough variety and interest that you’ll find something you like no matter what you’re in the mood for.

The prawns were a strong start — tails on, raw and dressed with a nahm jim-style sauce that was spicy enough to get your attention but not the dare-strength intensity that sometimes comes with this dish (I once got the spicy prawns at Mekong Neua in Kingsland and they were so hot I couldn’t finish them, so it’s always worth asking your waiter what to expect). Like the other dishes would be, this one was beautifully presented, with the iconic carrot-shaped-like-a-flower and plenty of other pretty garnishes.

You can judge the generosity of a Thai restaurant from the amount of fresh vegetables they include and Thai Village scores highly here — each dish heaped with surprise produce like broccoli, capsicum, peas, radishes and beans.

They throw in plenty of herbs too — less of the coriander, interestingly, and more of the basil (it was European basil but the swap works in that direction — just don’t try to put Thai basil in your caprese salad).

I loved the duck curry, a perfectly uniform ochre-coloured gravy with plenty of shredded meat and a few pieces of pineapple — surely the only legal use of the fruit in a savoury setting.

The pork is served with an array of tasty veges. Photo / Babiche Martens
The pork is served with an array of tasty veges. Photo / Babiche Martens

The pork was good too — a house specialty, it’s listed as “crunchy pork” on the menu but this isn’t quite right — “firm to the bite” is the most you could say about the slices of belly which were nonetheless delicious, and came in a spicy sauce without the coconut cream. Fat is what makes one meat taste like it’s distinct from another (lean anything tastes like lean everything) and cutting pork belly in thin cross sections guarantees every mouthful is packed with piggy flavour.

There was no larb on the menu but we got a sour-spicy salad with pieces of beef sirloin, which did the trick (no sticky rice here either, and I missed it to mop up the dressing and those last spoonfuls of duck curry).

The thing I really wanted was some noodles or other starch — I’d come close to ordering the pad thai but the waiter screwed his nose up and suggested the kitchen could make me some pad see ew instead if I wanted, hinting that there might be a list of off-menu dishes you could access if you wink at the right person. It’s unclear why you’d want to though — there are at least 50 options on the main menu so you’d be a bit of a monster to look up and ask, “What else have you got?”

Final tip: you’ll enjoy yourself either way but this is one menu I’d consider scoping out before you arrive, pre-loading your reading and hopefully easing the pressure of getting your order exactly right on the night.

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