March 29, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Occupying prime spot in the Ponsonby Central complex, Blue Breeze Inn is another stunner from the Mark Wallbank/Chef Che Barrington stable. If you’ve dined at any of their other restaurants, you’ll know the kind of food they serve up – big, bold Asian flavours with some good heat and a touch of sweetness. Accompanied by a little Kiwi attitude, of course.
This is one you need to book in advance for, and like the other venues they tend to work around two sittings – 6-8pm and 8pm onwards – so bear this in mind with your booking time. We dined on a public holiday and were a) happy to see that they were open, and b) even happier to hear they had no surcharge (usually this is 15-20% on public holidays in New Zealand). We were also chuffed to have scored a table out front on the balcony this time around. Blue Breeze is super popular and a tad short on space, so seating verges on tinned sardines – let alone if you want to actually squeeze in between tables without knocking fellow diners’ dishes off their table with your backside. Whilst still pretty squishy to get in and out, at least our outdoor table was a tad less claustrophobic.
Blue Breeze Inn specializes in modern Chinese with a Pacific Rim fusion cuisine, but mostly it’s Chinese with balls. The décor is tiki bar glam and just good fun all round – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a range of craft and commercial beers on offer (from Parrot Dog to Tsing Tao) and the wine list has improved dramatically since my last visit, with plenty of good options around the $60 mark.
What we ordered:
STEAMED DUMPLING OF PORK AND BLACK TRUFFLE (4) – $12
FRIED SPICY CHICKEN DUMPLING – $10
BRAISED BEEF CHEEK, CUMIN AND FERMENTED CHILLIES – $24
CHINESE ROASTED DUCK – HALF – $32
WOK-FRIED MARKET GREENS, BLACK BEAN, CHILLI, GARLIC AND SHAOXING – $10
Being Din Tai Fung addicts, it’s pretty hard to impress us with Xiao Long Bao, which is what our Pork and Black Truffle Dumplings turned out to be. Big and full of soup, the dumpling wrapper lacked the finesse of the DTF version – much thicker, and I can’t say I really noticed the truffle, but still tasty overall. My table mates also ordered the Pork and Prawn Dumplings and were happy with these too.
My beloved Peking Duck Taro Balls have been replaced on the menu much to my disappointment, however I needn’t have worried – their replacement was almost as delicious. The Fried Crispy Chicken Dumplings were outstanding. Succulent and sweet chicken and spring onion encased in a crispy outer casing with a layer of sticky, chewy dumpling underneath – amazing! I was really tempted to reorder these.
Next up, the bigger dishes – cue the braised beef cheek. Fall apart tender with a complex and rich sauce that had just a hint of sweetness and a kick of chili, we wolfed this down with the piles of fresh coriander atop the dish. So good! Our next dishes were also fab, but this was a hard act to follow. These were the half duck, and the wok tossed greens. The half duck was pretty sizable and sat chopped up on a bed of hoisin sauce. Crispy skin and juicy meat – what more can you ask for when it comes to duck? I was a little sad we couldn’t get it Peking Duck style with veges and pancakes – this is only available on a Sunday, but a good reason for a repeat visit. I’ve visited just for this in the past, and it might have been the best Peking Duck I’ve had in Auckland – lots of meat on the bones!
Our greens were also very tasty, but by this point we were running out of steam. This order more than fed four very happy diners – and happy not just because of the food, the bill at the end is sure to be a crowd pleaser too. Blue Breeze Inn is fantastic food at great value prices, and a perfect spot if you’re looking for a sophisticated casual vibe, not to mention the best Chinese on offer in Auckland. Go there, and go hungry!