Isolation Diaries: 5 Of The Best Restaurant Takeaways To Try In Auckland

Jesse Mulligan eats his way through a mountain of takeaways to bring you his top five dishes

Lamb pita from Gemmayze Street. Photo / Supplied

I’ve trudged through a lot of takeaways to bring you listicle joy this week. When I first started food blogging 11 years ago, I learned that I would get way more clicks by including in my headline keywords like "BEST", "WORST" and "BOOBS".

Only the first of these three options seemed appropriate in a week when bruise-tender restaurateurs were finally returning to work; so in order to eat enough to write the Contactless Oscars with integrity, I have picked up takeaways for almost every non-breakfast meal since the clock ticked one minute past midnight on that weird Anzac Monday. 

READ: How To Make Forest Restaurant's Go-To Halloumi Soup

Below are my top five Level 3 lockdown dishes. Some of these meals were supplied for free and some of them purchased by me. I’ve treated both equally — I have written about and chosen not to write about some of each.

AZABU - sushi platter
Level 4 was a total fish drought but what better way to climb back on the sea-horse than with the Azabu sushi platter, a luxurious tray of food with the great practical advantage that if it gets cold on its way to your house, that’s sort of a good thing. The sashimi is cut against the grain with a knife so sharp that the flesh has a texture almost impossible to recreate in a domestic environment. Little prisms of rice, fresh slices of beef, salmon and shellfish plus plenty of condiments make this the thing you should have been craving when you were actually craving McDonald’s (if you seriously need something hot and fatty though, Azabu’s pork belly is the best in Auckland).

Lamb pita from Gemmayze Street. Photo / Supplied

LILIAN - prosciutto and grape pizza
A great, chewy, fire-scorched bread base with generous heaps of prosciutto, thyme and halved green grapes. There are so many wonderful things about this Grey Lynn restaurant but the pizza is world class (and the tiramisu is the lightest and best I can remember eating for years).

SIDART - duck curry
Buying The French Cafe gave chef Sid Sahrawat the opportunity to turn his flagship Sidart into a fine dining Indian restaurant. It’s unbelievably good and the genre lends itself well to takeaway — this delicately slow-cooked duck thigh can either be eaten lukewarm (as anything you pick up will inevitably be by the time you unpack it) or gently reheated in its deep but freshly spiced makhana gravy, with pieces of kumara and the occasional sweet spike of lychee.

Okay, it was hard not to plump for the za’atar/honey French fries but the filled pita is more of a meal — a tightly packed sphere of super-authentic Middle Eastern ingredients and flavours. The falafel is almost as good but I love the way the charred lamb stirs elemental feelings, with the occasional pomegranate seed acting as foil for a deeply savoury meat, topped with a semi-pickled red onion, cucumber and all sorts of cool and spicy sauces.

THE GROVE - sticky toffee pudding
Michael Dearth of The Grove told me, “When I tried this for the first time I thought, 'Well maybe we’ll only do sticky pudding.'" It is so good that I immediately recommended it to two friends so, by the now familiar laws of exponential community transmission, you may well already know about this dessert. You might not know that, although it’s technically only available as part of the three-course take-home menu, I’ve convinced Michael to let Viva readers buy a pudding on its own from the restaurant if your hunger symptoms get particularly acute.

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