There’s No Place Like A Taste of Home!

If you live in Wellington, you know that Cuba Street and all the lanes surrounding it are hotspots for cheap, easy, and delicious Asian takeaways (BYO’s for the rowdier among us ;)). But there’s one place that has stirred the pot over the past few months and has been absolutely dominating the Insta scene – with foodies all over Wellington gushing about how bloody banging their food is. So obviously, I had to go and check it out to see if it really lived up to its now-household name: A Taste of Home.  For this little foodie adventure, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by my lovely mate Georgia, who runs @theHungryHippo on Instagram (check it out for awesome reviews and mouthwatering recipes!). So, on a cold and wet Welly evening, with our tummies literally rumbling from hunger, we hit A Taste of Home HARD!

For those who don’t know (and it’s easy to miss), A Taste of Home is parked right opposite the architecture campus on Vivian Street, which is super central and easy to get to, and also very dangerous for the bank accounts of design students. I’m also not kidding when I say it’s hard to miss – because this place is TINY! It only has 5 seats inside, which makes is a bit of a race to grab a seat, but it also means that the aromas coming from the kitchen quickly fill the dining room, making you even hungrier for their food. The menu is jam-packed with heaps of different dishes, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options (yusss) – and they even let you choose which noodle you want with your meal!

After much panic and deliberation, I settled for their Vegan Zha Jiang Mian, which is a mix of tofu, shiitake mushrooms, stir fry veggies, with hand-tossed rice noodles to match. All I’m gonna say is: Holy Mamma this shit is good. I went to the Night Noodle Markets earlier on this year, and to be honest, I should’ve ignored that hype and come here instead. The noodles from A Taste of Home kick the ass of any stall at Night Noodle Markets. I literally couldn’t – and still can’t – fathom just how a $12 bowl of noodles tastes so freaking good. The tofu? Marinated to perfection. The vegetables? An amazing mix of fresh and stir-fried goodness. The Noodles? Long, messy, and the best vehicle to mop up all those delicious, savoury juices. We also ordered the chili chips to snacky-snack on – which were crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and definitely had that little slap of spice with every bite.

So if you’ve got to this part of the review, I think you can guess I’m going to rate this place pretty flipping high on the CCL scale. The food was cheap (love it), the food was delicious (love it), and the actual place itself is so humble and unassuming, making it even more authentic and loveable (love that). The only thing that I would say was a problem was: 1. Their lack napkins – you can imagine how messy the noodles were and how half the sauce ended up on my face after eating them, but there was nothing to wipe it off with! And: 2. Their lack of water – the noodles and chips were a little spicy, so I needed something to quench the thirst and chill the chili, but the only drinks in sight were from their vending machine. Apart from these 2 minute altercations, A Taste of Home earns themselves a mean 8.8/10 on the CCL scale. If you’re reading this and are feeling a little peckish, skip the meal prep tonight and go grab yourself some of the best noodles you’ll ever taste from our friend at A Taste of Home – you won’t regret it, but you might get addicted!

Food As Good As Gold(ie)?

If you live in Wellington, then you know there has been a huge stir in the Asian food market within our streets – with Hey Bread, Bubble tea, and even more Asian food stalls opening where our beloved overpriced dairies used to sit. But there is one Asian-American fusion food hub that has sparked attention from Wellingtonians far and wide by its Kawaii culture, bountiful bubble teas, and freakishly long fries – that place being Goldie’s.

Now, I’m not a massive fan of bubble fad – whether it be tea of waffles – BUT If I said I didn’t dribble a little at the sight of their hotdogs and ‘longest chips in town’ on my Insta feed, I’d be lying. After seeing foodie upon foodie taste test this place out and rave about its new and edgy but cute take on Asian-American cuisine, I knew I had to unbuckle my belt and head there to see what the food-fuss was really all about. What my experience at Goldie’s was, you ask? Let’s just say I left with some opinions and an uncomfortably full tummy.

I arrived here with my hopes-and-hunger levels high, and basically ran with excitement right up to the counter to place my order of 2 hotdogs, a portion of ‘the longest chips in town’, and a few 6 Barrell Sodas to wash it all down. The interior is wicked – with a light and airy composition that’s been levelled up with pops of colour from neon signs, bubble lights, and crazy feature walls. While waiting for our food we were serenaded with a fire selection of Frank Oceans finest tunes – making me even more excited and anxious to snack on their famous snags. After no time at all, our food was placed in front of us and mirrored that of every single Instagram image I’d seen – It was the perfect picture of a hearty cheat meal. But then we took a bite, and all that hype went down like a fart in a spacesuit.  

Let’s start on ‘longest chips in town’. We ordered them with kewpie mayo and seaweed salt, which I think is an awesome take on regular chip seasoning. Were they long? Yes. Were they tasty? Yes. Were they also pretty damn greasy and under sauced? Unfortunately – yes again. The top chips were perfectly sauced and tasted awesome, but when that layer was eaten, it revealed semi-soggy chips with zero sauce. And when THAT layer was eaten, it revealed the pattern on the table as the amount of grease had turned the paper see-through.

Next, the famous Goldie hotdogs. We ordered their Kimchi Dog and Ebi dog. I didn’t really feel like cheating on my pescatarian diet, so got that sausage veganized, but of course insisted the shrimp stay, because tempura shrimp is the best darn deep-fried crustacean. With a hotdog, you need a good long dog to fill that bun so at no point will you get a bite of just bread – however the veggie sausages were too short and too slim, so every bite was about 75% bread and only 25% sausage, making every mouthful a little stodgy.

Finally – I gotta’ touch on their serving of the soda. I’m a big fan of mason jars, so seeing it served in that with paper straws got my inner Pinterest fangirl going – but where was the flavour?? I was expecting a punch of citrus from my orange and dandelion concoction, but instead I got the equivalent of a washed down soda stream.

So, all in all, a pretty average dining experience at Goldie’s – for what they have in killer kawaii style, they lack in flavour and substance. I have to hand it to Goldie’s for their success in back-packing off the bubble food trend – but my question is, how long will that food fad last? And will they then serve mediocre hot dogs and chips, competing against the likes of Lucky’s and Burger Fuel? Even though Goldie is blessed by nearly every bubble tea/waffle lover I know – I’m afraid I’m going to have to give them a below-par CCL score of 4/10. I really hope they up the flavour consistency of their food, as if their hotdogs and chips were as good as what I’ve heard their waffles and tea are – then Wellington’s got themselves a banger (pun intended) of a hotdog hub.

The Ass Of The World – Well, Sorta…

I never thought I would have ever said this. But I’ve been to the ass of the earth. And I liked it.

Okay, let’s give some insight, because to some people that sounds pretty gross, and well If it’s your thing then you might want to find a different blog to read. El Culo Del Mundo is one of Wellington’s newest food hubs located right next to The Chippery on Roxborough Street, and basically, its name translates to ‘the ass of the earth’ – I don’t know if this was planned or not, but either way, it cracks me up (YES PUN).

So, knowing that the name meant ass, I had to see if their fare also translated to ass. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. We decided to hit this joint on a sunny Sunday afternoon, carelessly leaving the kids me and my boyfriend were babysitting to fend and cook for themselves (probably bad in hindsight, but they survived) and met up with some good mates to test-drive this new whip.

Vegans and plant-based protestors – you can rejoice. Because this place is getting on the old protein replacement band-wagon. How you say? Crickets. These little critters have stirred up a storm in the food industry recently, with their super high protein properties, and FINALLY a restaurant in Wellington is serving them up with spice. Naturally, we tried this right away, and hand-on-heart, I was nervous. But as soon as I popped that crunchy cricket in my mouth, the fear went and the flavor kicked in – absolutely delicious, and even better served on a nacho chip with a little guac.

Next, we glazed over their mains to see what else would tickle our fancy. Bougie-as dishes like ox tongue tacos, bone marrow tortillas, and tiger prawns jumped out at us – however for the menu that we got served, we felt like the veggie options were a little lacking. Maybe rejoice a bit less vegan friends. However, for what they lacked in veggie options, they sure made up for in flavor. Those tiger prawns – AMAZING. The creamy guac and home-made salted nachos – INSPIRED. The ox tongue taco – MELT IN THE MOUTH. So, you could say their food was pretty dope.

So all in all, a pretty cool place that serves up some fine ass fare has just opened up a stone’s throw away from Courtenay place, and is a great addition to the Wellington food and drink scene. The only criticisms I got for this place are as listed (clears throat); Have more veggie options, have the same menu online as in the restaurant (I wanted to try the cauliflower, but couldn’t order it!) AND increase the portion size or lower the price of meals, because if you’re running on a low tank and need a feed, you deffo gotta order multiple meals to satisfy the hunger – I paid $15 for 3 tiger prawns.

Apart from that, I’m gonna give this place a 7.5/10 on the ol’ CCL (cafecrawlerlucy) scale. Great people, tasty noms, and a good selection of beers and drinks. A few little criticisms here and there, but hey, for a place that’s JUST opened its doors – I reckon it’s doing pretty good!

The Grape Escape!

Last week, the poor Tasman region got absolutely hammered by a cyclone that joined forces with a king tide to wreak havoc. It was a few days after the cyclone had hit, and my guests and I traipsed down to Mapua wharf to have a spot of lunch; where we were met with debris, power outages and cranes lifting destroyed boats from the waters. Nowhere was open due to the wreckage, so we sadly ambled back to our cars with our tummies rumbling. This was then when one of us had a brainwave and announced that we should, instead of going home hungry, hit up the popular café; Grape Escape. I had never been there, but had heard brilliant reviews, so we all agreed to regroup and refuel our appetites there. Continue reading The Grape Escape!