Ironically, The Burger Bros are actually owned and operated by two women. I think the name is catchy and gives that quintessentially Kiwi flavour of hospitality and familiarity. We found the truck in a car park with a couple of cars already waiting for orders. That distinct and glorious smell of searing meat on the grill hit us as we pulled up beside them.
It’s a tricky thing calling yourself a gourmet burger joint, actually gourmet-anything comes with the expectation of Insta-worthy burgers packed with flavour. Especially at the price point, because anything gourmet is not cheap, but I feel The Wagon is good value for money. I’ve certainly never left hungry, and that one time I ordered fries with that, I felt gluttonous to say the least.
When I heard that a new cafe was opening in Ohope Beach, I really hoped that they would have a great point of difference and not just your usual cafe offerings. As my parents and I approached the packed cafe, we got lucky and found an empty table. A friendly face greeted me front of house, my friend Sam worked there as a barista. There was definitely a good vibe in the place.
I love my food, and if you’re like me, you will love Melbourne and all that it has to offer. Pressed for time, this short visit didn’t really allow me to tick off many places from a long list friends gave to me. Still, I did feast and here’s just a few that restaurants I recommend should you find yourself in the city with some coin to spare. Also my friend, Arniella, is part of a foodie group in Melbourne. If you want to meet cool people while expanding your gastronomical vocabulary, send me a message and I will pass on her details.
Find them here: Watergardens Town Centre, R07/399 Melton Hwy, Taylors Lakes
Bookings: +61 3 8358 2109
I’ve been told that Cafe Greco have several restaurants in Melbourne, and I’m not surprised. The food is fantastic and service was quick. I’m not that schooled on Greek cuisine, so it was great to be able to try something new.
We met up with Ian’s brother, Carlo, and his wife, Valentina, and their kids Blake and Jimmy. Dinner that evening were two platters - meat and seafood. I drooled over the size of the prawns and looked back on the days before I was allergic to crustaceans. The platters were on the table in less than 20 minutes, which was awesome because I was so hungry.
I loved the calamari from the seafood platter, and the lamb from the meat platter is a must. Charcoal always brings out this incredible flavour in lamb, and dipped in tzatziki...divine! I wish we ordered extra pita bread, just to have a break from all the meat. Although I don’t think I could anymore in after our meal.
We hung around the playground so Blake could play - Ian ended up getting me a hot chocolate and churros from La Chocolateria for dessert. Great food and awesome company, I slept good that night.
RonnaEats: 4.5 Spoons | Atmosphere: 4.5 Stars
F.A.T. Fried and Tasty
Find me here: 360 Lygon St, Brunswick East | Bookings: +61 3 8560 3328
You will probably never find southern-fried chicken and waffles on a Weight Watcher’s menu, still, if you don’t care about the calories, it really is the bomb. Lygon Street in Melbourne is the street for whatever it is that you’re craving. FAT Fried and Tasty is located in the more industrial end of Lygon Street, where you find cafes and hair salons amongst mechanics and tyre fitters.
We actually sought out fried chicken (the southern variety specifically) and waffles after a post on Instagram - we figured we were heading into the city anyway and hadn’t had breakfast yet. I thought that by the time we got into the city, we would be ready for lunch.
For you sceptics who doubt this delicious combination - haters gonna hate but it’s ya’ll missing out.
The waffles were served with two pieces of southern-fried chicken, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. I could have done without the ice cream, but hey, I wanted the full soul-food experience. Next time I will try their spicy version, and maybe less the waffles.
We went early so probably beat the lunchtime rush. Also you should check out their funky bathroom - funky being the artwork, not the smell.
RonnaEats: 4.5 spoons | Atmosphere: 4.5 Stars
Find them here: Southgate, MR2/3 Southgate Ave, Southbank | Bookings: +61 3 9699 3600
Melbourne is one of the, if not, the most multicultural city in Australia - which is great for us foodies because migrants brought over fantastic cuisine that caters to every palette. La Camera means ‘the room’ in Italian - it was a pretty popular room looking at how packed it was on a Friday night. Luckily my friend, Selena, managed to get us a table, better yet, we had a view of the Yarra River and city lights.
La Camera is on the first floor of the Southgate Building in Southbank. We booked a room in the city, and probably would have only been a 15-20 minute walk from our hotel. Running late, we took a taxi and experienced the hustle and bustle of Friday night traffic. Although there’s a more social different vibe, perhaps it’s because most people are out for the night, it never feels as stressful as peak hour traffic after work.
The restaurants and bars at street level must pay a premium - though with the amount of customers that night, I would say it was worth it. We met up with Selena after 6pm and we only had the table until 7.30pm, which meant quick menu decisions had to be made. We settled on a garlic and cheese pizza for our starter (by the way, the pizza starter is good for four), and I went with the spaghetti bolognese for my main. I found that over-indulgence from the last few days meant my stomach wanted comfort food over spice.
Selena often comes back to Whakatane - we catch up at least every couple of years. I have to admit, it’s taken me ten years to finally visit Melbourne, so it was good to not only catch up, but to see what gastronomical delights it had to offer.
After dinner, we walked along the Yarra, and headed towards Crown Casino. Not that we had any plans to gamble the night away, we just wanted to avoid food coma from all the carbs. Though once it settled, we walked back to Southgate to the Lindt Cafe. I had the hot chocolate - which was served with small jug of milk and melted chocolate. The consistency was perfect for sipping chocolate. By the end, I had the equivalent of three small hot chocolate drinks. Way too much indulgence for one night!
RonnaEats: 4 Spoons | Atmosphere: 4.5 Stars
Find them here: Hamer Hall, Tenancy A Southbank Promenade, Southbank
Bookings: +61 3 9682 9042
PIZZERIA, BAR AND TAPAS
We had actually walked past Teatro the night we dined at La Camera (it’s just a short walk). I was catching up with Becca and Arniella, both originally from Whakatane, and we spotted the $15 Paella lunch special. Of course I couldn’t have it (traditional paella always has prawns), but most of the group was keen. We had to wait an hour for lunch, so found a food court and caught up on the goss over smoothies.
Becca was in my year in high school, and Arniella a year younger. Both had moved to Australia over ten years ago - so this visit was well overdue. Both come home regularly, but it was great to see them in their adopted city. Becca’s husband, Mark, couldn’t join us as he had already bought a ticket to spend the day eating, drinking and betting on horses.
I ordered a calamari tapas - which I highly recommend. It was succulent and the batter light. For my main I went for the margarita pizza, which a nice break from meat, yet still had that satisfying comfort that comes from carbs and cheese. It turns out Becca was also allergic to crustaceans, so she had the Moroccan Lamb pizza, while everyone else got the paella.
Eating a pizza twice the size of my face was no easy feat. I managed all but one slice, which was a good effort on my part.
We walked off lunch and made our way to South Wharf where we tried to do some shopping. Food coma took away my enthusiasm to shop and I walked out empty handed.
A day exploring in the city is not enough, next time, I’m sure to come prepared.
RonnaEats: 4 Spoons | Atmosphere: 4 Stars
Who is RonnaEats? Ronna Funtelar runs this independent foodie blog, with a philosophy to eat and write about food we can rave about. We don't ask for free meals or collaborate with our reviewed eateries, so you can be assured the reviews are unbiased and all for the love of food. Whether it's a food truck, a hole in the wall eatery, street food, local hangout or fine dining, we want to know where to head to for our next food adventure.
I have been to Volare twice now, and each time the food and service have been phenomenal. Filipinos and Italians have a great love of food, so it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to this place. On Saturday I dined with my Mum, and friends Katrina, Jovial and Conrad. We were seated by 5.30pm, which worked in our favour as by 6pm the empty tables were filled with eager customers.
85 The Strand, Tauranga
Volare is a two story restaurant, with the upper floor balcony overlooking the Tauranga Harbour. Summer evenings and late sunsets allows diners to enjoy the view much later into the evening - and the cool breeze gives much needed relief from the humidity.
There is a certain finesse necessary for great hospitality - outstanding service has become a rarity, and is often highlighted when we come across it. Diners can choose between the retaurant menu or a less formal outing with tapas and drinks. I will like to try their tapas menu next time.
With the five of us, we ordered a few dishes and shared. For starters, it was the bacon wrapped scallops, polenta chips, salmon carpaccio with capers, and shrimps with garlic bread (which of course I couldn’t eat). The polenta chips had an interesting texture, much like deep fried couscous. The scallops were incredibly tender, and the salmon carpaccio with capers were a great start - delicate and full of flavour. Carpaccio is a great way to eat salmon for those who find the fish’s texture too oily for their palette.
For the mains we also shared an eye fillet, risotto with chicken, bacon mushroom and mascarpone cheese, gnocchi with blue vein bechamel, lamb rack and grilled Tarakihi with a pomodoro sauce. Unfortunately the Tarakihi was served with shrimps so I couldn’t try it. I can tell you that my new fave is the simple, yet creamy gnocchi - I’m a big fan of cooked blue vein. It really brings out that smoky nuttiness, and mellows out the often signature pungent aroma of blue vein, which is certainly an acquired taste.
If that didn’t seem like an incredible amount of gastronomical calories, we ended the evening with dessert - sharing a tiramisu, cannoli con frutta, pistachio and vanilla gelato, and a fondente al cioccolato. I felt like they should have a treadmill option at the end of each course to lessen the guilt.
That was a lot of food for one shorty, even if we did share it. Something the Italians do get right is the importance of regularly sharing a meal with loved ones. We don’t do it enough, and often wait for special occasions. It can be a humble meal, or a fancy feast. What matters is the company, the conversations and of course, the memories we create together.
RonnaEats: 5 Spoons
As we walked up the ramp, I could already tell Spoon and Paddle had a soulful character. Outdoor seating came with blankets, which made sense with the crisp sunshine. The interior had a modern-rustic decor, both functional and homely. The busy brunch service was already well underway, and there was a mix of young families and travellers passing through. Taupo had always been a pitstop for our family trips when we were young, though I have a feeling the locals keeps this place busy over the quieter winter months.
When I was younger, I used to borrow my older brother’s Transformers toys, a screwdriver, and work out how it was assembled. Lucky for me, and my brother, I learned not to lose the screws, and followed a crude method to put it all back together. There were no Optimus-a-Tron frankensteins in our household. This knack of figuring things out came in handy this morning when I had to pull apart a slat bed. It probably took longer than it should, but I didn't break any slats, thanks to a handy tutorial I found on Google, so i’m happy. All that work built up an appetite, which was good because I really felt like crepes.
RonnaEats says holla to:
L’epicerie, 73 The Strand, Whakatane
I love crepes and galettes, and I don’t really need an excuse to eat them. My friend, Judea, and I met up at a packed L’epicerie around lunch time. It was their annual Bastille Day celebrations. The Citroen Food Truck was parked outside, but all orders taken inside. I ordered a goat's cheese roll, small mocha and a Carribean crepe, which consisted of Nutella, banana and coconut.
As we waited for our crepes, a man was playing the accordion. It reminded me of the time we were in a high school assembly as part of the French Class tour group, singing the French National Anthem accompanied by a Scotsman playing the accordion. True story, I swear.
Days like these, with the sun shining, does bring out the weekend diners. Sundays are usually quiet affairs in Whakatane, even with a busy service, the diners and hosts were in a good mood.
We decided to eat at The Heads. TacoTaco was also parked in its usual spot, but we already had plenty of food, so decided to pass up on it this time.
My goat’s cheese and mesculin was nestled in a freshly made bread, with a drizzle of honey and some slivers of almond. If you’ve never had goat’s cheese with honey, please do try it. The combination of the salty goat’s cheese, with the creamy, sweet honey is just amazing. I know what you're thinking, where's the meat? Didn't need it to be honest.
The crepe was what pushed me into my afternoon food coma, totally unproductive after that. I even missed dropping Judea back to her car, and had to drive back.
I think I have a much healthier relationship with food and exercise now. I love food, but know my body needs good fuel to do what I need to do. Exercise, hitting the gym isn't a punishment for my love of food, it's to celebrate and challenge what my body can do. I like that.
Bastille Day crepes and coffee was a winner for me this year - sunshine, good yarns and chocolate. Ooh la la!
#RonnaEats rates this: 4/5
There's a hidden gem tucked away in an unasuming building at Ohope Beach’s wharf. A favourite swimming and fishing spot for locals, the wharf is always a bustling place of activity, even in the colder months. My Dad used to take me there in my teenage years during mackerel season. We would fish before sunrise, and be home by breakfast.
Last night’s dinner almost didn't happen. My friend Nyre and I were in A&E for four hours (she was there for another hour and a half after I left), after dislocating her knee playing netball. Three of us went on to dinner, and Nyre followed after we had finished dessert. A bit like a 'Sliding Doors' moment, except I'm no Gwyneth Paltrow, and trains don't run in Whakatane.
#RonnaEats says holla to: Fisherman’s Wharf Cafe, 340 Harbour Rd, Ohope Beach
This was my first dining experience at Fisherman’s Wharf Cafe with the new owners. Over the years, the restaurant had become known as the place with amazing views, but average food and sub-standard service. It was even a Thai restaurant in its previous life.
As I approached the door, I could see a busy service well under way. It was 7pm, and there were no grumpy faces. That's a good sign. Either the diners were well attended to, or the wine selection agreed with them. The tall green doors opened into a dining room with cheerful conversations, and the smell of glorious food. Lighting was subtle, and beautiful, almost like a real-life Photoshop filter. The place with the amazing views had come of age.
We were seated by Tom, one of the owners. He often came in to work to print their menus, and I would drool over the dishes, often Googling new words to add to my foodie vocabulary. I don't pretend to know a lot about food, but I do know what I like, and I have tried many bizarre things in my travels. Ant eggs omellete in Laos in 2007 still tops that list.
Miria and I both ordered the swordfish and Tina ordered the Wharf Plate. I had never eaten sworfish before, and it's not often seen in menus in Whakatane. They say food made with love takes time, but we weren't hungry for long. In fact as we waited less than twenty minutes for our mains, dishes seem to fly out the kitchen. Whomever ran the kitchen understood a hungry customer does not make a raving fanbase. If they were a rock band, I would totally be a front row groupie.
Swordfish has this fascinating texture, much like a perfectly seared scallop. The portion was the size of an eye-fillet, delicate and succulent. It was served with spiced and roasted kumara (sweet potato), spinach, and a dill beurre blanc sauce. When Miria and I finished our plates, we looked at each other and laughed. Here we were dressed all fancy in this beautiful restaurant, and all we could think about licking our plates. Yes, it was that good.
Dessert was a chocolate brownie, hot fudge sauce, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum.
As were finishing dessert, our friend Nyre texted to say she was finally out of her A&E marathon. Five and a half hours for a dislocated knee. She is my foodie sister, and after a long, frustrating day in the hospital, she was starving. We ordered for her, and it was ready before she got there. Her dessert was an apple and rhubarb crumble, with the feijoa crumble selling out earlier.
Our positive dining experience was so much more than just the food. New Zealand doesn't have a great tipping culture, and I only make a point to tip when I've received incredible service. Last night I tipped our waitress, a young woman with an infectious smile and grace. I tipped because I heard open praise by management to their staff, something quite rare in my experience.
Glorious food and exceptional hospitality, yes, let’s do this again.
P.S. Sorry to the young man who poured our water, Miria isn't always that awkward. Having water poured for her made her feel like a princess, and you know, she just didn't want it to end.
#RonnaEats rating: 5 / 5
Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner. A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self love.
It feels like a lifetime since Morgan and I spent a weekend together. Busy schedules and work meant we just didn't get our usual downtime together. This weekend was exactly what we needed, and it was good to sample new tastes, even at our local hangouts.
I have written about Javaman before, it's a cafe on The Strand, Whakatane. The interior is warm and cosy, the outdoor courtyard is inviting on warm days, and often I have had business meetings here. As I'm a creature of habit, often I have the Thai green curry or carbonara, but on Saturday I was running late for a meeting, and decided to check out the cabinet selection.
It was a quiet morning before the brunch rush. Morgan spotted the creamy mushroom bagel first.
It's simple things done well that stand out to me, it just makes good business. I was greeted with roasted pumpkin seeds and a tasty toasted bagel. Sandwiched between is a runny egg, creamy mushrooms, spinach and bacon, served with some fresh lettuce and their signature aioli and sweet chilli.
Morgan and I were suprised by how full we were, as usually we are the cooked breakfast type. I had about five minutes before my meeting, and I still had my mocha to finish. Even though I was in a rush, it was great to spend 'us' time together.
Girls' night out
Saturday night, I went on a girls night out in Rotorua. We originally intended to dine out at Eat Street, but ended up at Lonestar instead. Note to self, five hangry women is not a good start to the night!
Our mains took over an hour to arrive, which I personally expected, considering how packed it was. I wish they had some puzzle mats and pencils like they do at Cobb and Co - no one is too old for connect the dots.
By the time dessert was served, most of the diners had left. It felt like we had the restaurant to ourselves. It may not have been a mind-blowing foodie night, but at least the company was great.
We came home and the two sobers had too much energy leftover from the fudge brownie to go to bed, so we went out and danced the calories away. Good food, good people, and dance. That's my kind of a good time.
The best part about summer are the simplest things - sitting out in the twilight and listening to the birds singing, sipping on a cold one and catching up with friends. Delicious food is always a bonus. Making memories and eating amazing food - now that's living.
I met Guilhem and Chloe a few years ago when they were selling French mustard and other imported goods. This was at the local markets when I used to sell my t-shirts. They have since opened up L'epicerie on The Strand, and after a lot of hard work, I'm happy to write that they are a thriving and iconic local cafe.
#RonnaEats holla to: L'epicerie, 73 The Strand, Whakatane
They have stayed true to their French roots and offer Whakatane a taste of home - from their in-house, freshly baked breads, to the selection of imported cheese, to the crepes and galettes on their menu. Of course no cafe is complete without coffee, and most days the cafe is packed with locals and tourists.
Morgan had a galette there yesterday, he had the Eggs Benedict and I ordered a French Toast crepe. The Benedict style had two eggs, bacon, spinach and hollandaise sauce and served on buckwheat galette. My French toast came with bananas, bacon, maple syrup and whipped cream. Ooooh child, I just couldn't believe how happy my taste buds were that morning! I love how light the crepes were, which left me satisfied, without that bloated feeling you usually get from traditional French Toasts.
They have expanded the cafe over the years to keep up with the demand for seating. If the cafe is packed, you can get takeaway and walk across the road and enjoy the view of the riverside. I also love buying cheese platters from there, for those times where you just want to feed your face with comfort food, well gourmet comfort food. Do try the goats cheese with honey, walnuts and fresh bread, then Netflix and chill.
#RonnaEats rates this: 4.5/5
- The cafe is licensed, and they serve a selection of boutique beers and wine
- Get takeaway and enjoy the riverside
- Feel like a gourmet picnic? Order ahead and beat the crowds
- Fresh bread baked in-house, order ahead so you don't miss out
Some days I wake up with a craving for pancakes, I'm glad I've found somewhere local that serves up a no-fail good stack every time. If you're going to pay for pancakes, they better be nicer than the ones you make at home, because if they're not, you're better off to make them at home. Sure you have to do you're own washing up afterwards, but at least you get a full belly, and some money left in your wallet.
#RonnaEats holla to: Poppies Cafe, The Strand, Whakatane
You get three on your stack, with berries, berry coulis and whipped cream. There's also fresh grapes, melon and berries (in season). I order bacon on the side because I like that sweet/salty mix, and a nice break from all that sweetness. There's maple syrup drizzled over it, as well as a generous portion on the side. I don't think it needs extra maple syrup, but if you love it, it's there.
I don't know if it's the Asian in me, but I really like the sweet and salty combo. The bacon is extra, so if you want to save some pingas, give it a miss. It does get pretty busy on the weekends, so pop in before 10am if you want to miss the crowds.
#RonnaEats rates this: 4/5
I have to admit I'm pretty chicken when it comes to complaining about below par food and service. To be fair, no, we didn't bring our dissatisfaction to the attention of the duty manager, as by the time we went to pay it felt like it would be a down buzz to an otherwise great evening.
#RonnaEats holla to: Detour Bar and Lounge, The Strand, Whakatane
Detour is marketed as a fine dining bar and lounge, and I do enjoy my mocktail mojitos on DOT evenings. Someone definitely spent good money on styling the joint.
Morgan and I met up with our friend, Angelie, and her boyfriend, Phil, who are visiting from Australia. Angelie and I used to work together, and even though she has lived overseas for most of our friendship, she has always made the effort to catch up when in town.
When we ordered, the waitress did warn us that there would be a wait because a big group ordered before us, no problem. It gave us plenty of catch up time and get to know Phil too. Turns out they had set up a kite surfing business in Fiji, and will be spending a few months in Australia and return to Fiji mid-next year.
Morgan, Phil and I all ordered a stone grilled dish each: Morgan tried the 'Butcher's Cut', Phil the seafood, and me with the pork. Be extra careful with the stone grill, it really is hot! I really liked the potato pompoms, a bit like a crunchy gnocchi. The mesclun salad with beetroot strips added a nice freshness in the summer heat.
I did enjoy my meal, but I did feel for my friend, Angelie. Turns out she's both lactose and gluten intolerant. She ordered the Char Sui Pork and asked if the kumara could be made without dairy. We went back to our table outside and had a few more drinks and catch up about old times and what people were doing.
All the stone grill meals were served first. When the Char Sui Pork came, it wasn't on kumara mash, but crinkle cut fries. My friend was told that the kitchen ran out of kumara, but a plate with just crinkle cut fries, a pork medallion and a lone plum for over $30? The dish was missing a few of the listed ingredients and looked pretty bare. She took it back to the bar and told them to up their game. About 15 minutes later her dish came back with some potato wedges and four asparagus. It did look like they were running out of ingredients to serve up.
Side note: It's been a few weeks since I started writing this review, as I got busy with dance. I also wanted to read over this to make sure I saw wrote about the experience in a fair and balanced angle.
Three of us were pretty happy with our meals, but my friend was left a bit hungry. I am all for supporting my local restaurants, but it's fair to say she didn't get her money's worth this time.
#RonnaEats rates this: 3/5 (My food was good, but my friend's experience did put a downer on the night)
It feels like I haven't written a foodie blog in awhile, don't worry, I haven't stopped eating, I've just been busy with dancing and focused on that. Today I want to write about my latest obsession, kebabs! So there's been a Turkish Kebab place in Whakatane for a few years, but now one has opened up five minutes walk from my house. It does amaze me how many food places there are in this town, and how they all somehow manage to thrive. Is it because we can't be bothered cooking? I don't know, because I love to cook, but sometimes after teaching three classes, I just want to eat, shower then sleep.
#RonnaEats holla to: Mr Kebab, King Street, Whakatane
The picture above is listed on the menu as 'Meat on Chips', which is what it literally is. You also get a whole lot of salad, hummus, tabouli and a beetroot relish, which I really like (I used to HATE beetroot as a kid, mainly because it was the canned stuff they put in sandwiches and it would get soggy come lunchtime. As an adult I met people who knew how to prepare it so that it didn't have that odd "I'm eating dirt" taste.) This serving is best eaten at dinner, or for lunch if you're really hungry!
Last night I felt extra adventurous and had the hot chilli sauce, not just sweet chilli. It was good to have the garlic yoghurt to help cool the heat though. I think the heat brought me back to my days travelling in 35C heat, and spicy food was part of that experience.
I also had a chicken and falafel wrap kebab last week, and just the falafel yesterday (yes I went there two times in one day). I found that the falafel doesn't absorb as much of the sauce, so if you like your kebabs juicy, ask for extra sauce on this one.
If you have a sweet tooth, try the Baklavas...
SIDE STORY: I bought my sister and I kebabs for lunch, and as I was waiting, the mother of the owner asked if I wanted tea. I had to decline as I was in a rush, though I said to her, yes next time I will have tea. Turned out, I was there for dinner too, and this time she didn't even ask. As we sat there waiting for tea, she brought tea and a slice each of cake. Yes, cake! Chuffed indeed.
#RonnaEats rates this: 4/5
- There isn't that much difference in price between the small or large. If you're extra hungry, go for it, or share it with a mate.
- There's free Wi-Fi for dine-in customers, just ask.
- Meat on Chips, Rice and Salads are big servings.
- Fried chips with kebabs...try it.
- Really friendly staff, stay and chat.
What's up foodies! This week I'm writing about Spice Junction, which I have to say it's my fave Indian Restaurant in Whakatane. I go there both for lunches with my Mum, and for dinner with friends. Today, I'm writing about Chicken Tikka Masala, which is the sauced up cousin of the beloved Chicken Tikka.
#RonnaEats holla to: Spice Junction @ 8/75 The Strand, Whakatane
Not to be mistaken with Chicken Tikka, which is a sizzler dish, Chicken Tikka Masala is a dish of glorious chunks of tandoor grilled chicken with a tomato and yoghurt/cream sauce. It's a rich savoury flavour, with a hint of sweetness, but not as sweet as Butter Chicken. This one had chunks of tomato, capsicum and onion. I have mine medium.
I do like the complimentary poppadoms they serve as you're seated. Service is quick, and no fuss. If it's not busy, we get our order within 15 minutes easy.
The lunch menu is good value for money, as the curry dishes come with rice and a plain naan. I prefer the garlic naan and don't mind paying extra. Their naan breads are one of the best I've tasted in Whakatane. It's nicely toasted, without being dry, and doesn't leave a greasy feel in your hands.
I love rice, and always leave wishing there was more, but that's just the Asian talking. If you're like me and love rice, just ask for more.
Overall a great place to part with your moolah, the staff are friendly and service is really good.
#RonnaEats rates this: 3.8/5
Did you know that many of the Indian dishes served in the Western countries didn't originate from India? Many of the spices, yes, but the flavours were created in England. Dishes like butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and even the onion bhaji, originated in the Indian restaurants in England.
- Go hungry, Indian dishes are heavy. Don't plan on running a marathon afterwards.
- If in doubt, go mild. If it's too hot for you, ask for yoghurt or order a Mango Lasi.
- To help with digestion, try the multi-coloured aniseed mints at the counter. I usually have a handful and it helps counter that bloated feeling, and counters my garlic breath too!
I've been a bit sick this week, and haven't been able to scope out new places to write about. Some people ask me if I get paid for this, my answer is...not yet! I LOVE food and wanted to get back into writing again, so that's why I've started up my Ronna Eats blog.
Today, I popped into Javaman for one of my faves, green thai curry. I have to say it helped my blocked nose, as any good curry should. I also ran into Mark from Whakatane Online, and we got chatting about cold remedies, curry heat and how Filipinos love karaoke.
#RonnaEats holla to: Javaman @ 214 The Strand, Whakatane
This dish is a bit of a legend in Whakatane. Even when Javaman changed owners, this dish stayed on the menu. It's like the cool uncle that's just come back from his OE. It's a taste of Thailand for the Kiwi palette.
The dish is served with chicken, potato, crispy noodles and steamed rice. When Tony, the owner and chef, served up my lunch, he asked, "Will you be eating the potatoes today?" I laughed, thinking back to a conversation we had a few weeks ago. I had ordered the same for lunch, and when I finished left three pieces of potato on the plate. He said next time I could just ask not to have them if I didn't like potatoes (it was a full foodie day and I just didn't have any more room in my tum, so settle down potato lovers.)
To be honest, even without chicken this dish will still be a winner. If you're a vegetarian, you could ask Tony to serve you up more potatoes. The curry is quite mild, I might ask Tony to spice it up a bit next time, especially if I still have my cold. I do love the creaminess of the soup, with just the right balance of fragrant and spice.
#RonnaEats rates this: 4/5
I remember touring south-east Asia in 2007, and Thailand was one of my destinations. I was sitting at the train station, and decided I would order a green curry (weird calling it "Thai" curry when you're in Thailand. Same thing about Brazil nuts I guess...) In New Zealand, we get asked how "hot" we want it, but I decided to eat like the locals and get what I was served. It was served with the curry in one bowl, and rice on a plate. In my excitement, I didn't see the giant chilli on my bowl and decided to drown the rice in curry soup. I took one mouthful, and I was burning on the inside, outside, in my ears, my eye balls. As hot as it was, it was one of the best curries I've eaten. Nothing beats eating like the locals!
- Try eating your curry with a fork and spoon - that way you can include all the components in a mouthful and enjoy the different tastes and textures.
- I like having my curry with iced tea.
- If you're on a short lunch break, order ahead, or let the staff at the counter know. They will do their best, and let you know how long you have to wait.
- Go hungry, and be prepared for food coma.
Yay! This is my first foodie blog post, and I'm so happy it's about one of my regular hangouts. I am talking about...Javaman! As much as I am adventurous with food, I can also be a creature of habit, and there are a few things on their menu I go in for: 1) The carbonara, 2) Thai green curry or 3) Something for brunch.
My friend Nyre (she is a foodie too and used to own a cafe in Waiuru) told me that she doesn't like to order pasta in restaurants because it disappoints her when it's not cooked properly. I recently experienced a bad carbonara at a new place I tried, and I was pretty sad about it too. It was tough and undercooked, and I haven't been back there since.
#RonnaEats holla to: Javaman @ 214 The Strand, Whakatane
On the menu board it's listed as "Prawn and Mushroom Carbonara", but I change the prawns to bacon, purely because I'm allergic, and I don't want to die.
Why do I LOVE this carbonara? First, it's the artisan pasta. It's not made in-house, but they do buy it in from a certified artisan supplier. I love the way the wide pasta twirls on my fork, and doesn't make me slurp it just to get it in my mouth. Make sure you combine the pasta and sauce thoroughly, I know it won't look like a food magazine editorial afterwards, but the melted parmesan adds a fantastic burst of flavour (by the way I love cheese).
The sauce is well seasoned, so if you're the kind of person that adds salt and pepper before tasting your dish, you've been warned! Don't waste a beautiful dish with your salt fanaticism, taste first!
Often people overcook mushrooms, so it's a nice change to get them creamy, but still firm so they don't flop on your fork. Texture is very important in my food experience, and floppy mushrooms is a no no (unless it's creamy mushrooms for breakfast, different story).
This is my comfort food, or if I'm carbo loading before a big night of teaching classes. I tend to eat it more in winter, and not so much in the warmer months. It's my go to dish if I want something filling and comforting, or want to just blob in a food coma later.
#RonnaEats rates this: 4/5
- If you want to beat the rush on the weekends, go in for brunch before 10.30am. My husband and I find this works most of the time.
- Most of the portions are decent sized, so don't get tempted to get the large coffee if you don't want to go into a food coma afterwards. I ordered the French Toast and a small hot chocolate one day and that pushed my limits.
- Do you have allergies or don't want potatoes in the Thai Green Curry? Ask them nicely to swap it for something else. I can't eat prawns (I'm allergic), so they swap it for bacon instead. They also have gluten free options.