We just finished a busy morning and came back to the Viaduct looking for lunch. It was almost 2 pm, we thought we would be able to find something quick, we were so wrong. A long lunch is quite common in Auckland.
Hello Beasty is a buzzy destination offering creative North Asian-New Zealand fusion fare in a colourful setting located in Viaduct Harbour, Auckland. Chef Stuart Rogan started cooking professionally in 1989, he was 15. Once he started he didn’t stop. He travelled and cooked his way around the world — from a Michelin-star hotel to a garage with six tables and a kitchen the size of a bathtub. Everywhere he went he took his whites and his knives and made his way by food.
When we arrived, the place was packed to the brim and it was almost 2 pm. Fortunately for us, a table became available while we were about to go the next restaurant along the Viaduct.
The menu consisted of mainly North Asia influenced fusion cuisine combined with the freshest catch and ingredients New Zealand can provide. Korean, Japanese and Sichuan influence can be tasted in good measure among the dishes we ordered.
The server suggested we order a couple of mains to share as most of the plates were designed for communal eating.
Beasty sashimi selection
Usually consisted of three types of sashimi, but subjected to availability
- Big Glory Bay salmon, red chilli + finger lime (not available today, we were told after we ordered, but it didn’t matter)
- Market tuna, miso mustard (Albacore tuna, nevertheless still fresh and moist as we were just off the fishing grounds)
- Ruakaka kingfish, smoked bacon dashi + yuzu kosho (delicious yellowtail from NZ, the fish that we all loved as sashimi)
Ruakaka is the brandname for the sustainable yellowtail. Haku is the Te Reo Māori name for kingfish. Also known as kingi or yellowtail, the fish are found in New Zealand from the Kermadec Islands to Banks Peninsula during the summer months. The common name “yellowtail” comes from their bright yellow fins but they also have a distinctive golden stripe running from head to the tail.
Wagyu beef + mushroom potstickers
five spice, coriander, crunchy chilli, light soy
First, I really loved the presentation of the potstickers. Called Guotie 锅贴 (which literally means potstickers) in Chinese, these are eaten quite commonly in North Asia. And then there’s the variations and recent craze to make this crust on the dumplings. Surprisingly it is quite easy to achieve by adding starch water when frying the dumplings on a flat pan.
The chilli sauce was not spicy to cater to the local palate and slightly tangy because of the black vinegar. The whole combination reminded me of gyozas in Tokyo and guotie in Shanghai, and how small the world is right now.
KFC Korean fried cauliflower
spicy gochujang glaze, roasted sesame seeds
This Korean street food inspired dish replaced the chicken pop corn with cauliflower. It was worthy replacement, and the addition of gochujang as a a glaze to the deep fried battered cauliflower was sublime. A very large serving as an appetiser.
Korean BBQ chicken
garlic, soy, jangajji pickled daikon, carrot and red onion
Wow! That was the first reaction I had when I bit into one of these skewers. I was expecting a rather ordinary chicken BBQ, but the complexity of flavours in this Korean BBQ chicken was really satisfying.
There’re hint of tandoori, hint of Xinjiang spices, hint of Korean BBQ. In a nutshell, one cannot place where I find the taste familiar. But they all invoked that warm feeling nostalgia that good food brings.
Slow-cooked Coastal Lamb shoulder
red chilli + Sichuan sauce, coriander + mint
Another WoW!!!! This was the recommendation from the server taking our order. She said its her favourite in the menu, and why not another lamb dish, our third in a row.
The lamb shoulder had been slow-cooked in this spicy sauce that reminded me of Indian curry and Indonesian rendang and Xinjiang Dapanji 大盘鸡, again something we cannot pinpoint but brought such good memories of good eats from the region.
We ordered a spring onion flatbread on the insistence of the server. She claimed it was necessary to eat this lamb, and she was right!. The flatbread acted like a pita pocket to hold the tender, moist lamb with all the trimmings. The green koji sauce that came with the flatbread went well with the lamb, but it was totally unnecessary as it was the sauce from the braise that we were after.
Hokkaido scallop + wild caught prawn dumpling, kale wakame + broad bean, fish bone miso + chive butter sauce
The final dish was a prawn and scallop dumpling cooked in chive butter sauce and fish stock, with a pan fried piece of snapper on a bed of sautéed kale and broad beans. It was a meal on a plate, and if one was dining alone, this was it. Three large dumplings were full of umami, the fish fillet was filling, and the kale and broad beans to balance the nutritions and finally a rich sauce that made one thought one ordered a ravioli dish.
Ever since I came home to Singapore, I have been thinking about Hello Beasty. The food was excellent, and I wished someone would open something like this here. It as the surprise find this trip to Auckland, and beats all the fine dining I had there. Must visit if you are in Auckland, and I am sure I would return soon.
95-97 Customs Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Tel : +64 21 554 496
Visited in Jun 2022