Some highlights at the halfway point of our trip:
Asian food: Tom Yum Eden is as great as ever. Duck larb does a great job of blending flavours and mixing textures. Even the pad thai is superior. Never been to Thailand, but the cooking is as sharp as at the good Thai restaurants in California, and with better ingredients. We've had one upmarket meal at the izakaya in Ponsonby -- pretty good for what it is if you have the cash. Chinese food is much as it has been for a few years (though with no sign of my old fave HP8) except with more dumplings; still looking for a place with the delicacy of wrappers to suit my finnicky Cantonese tastes.
Bubble tea: Auckland is as good as it gets (better than Taiwan, says my wife), especially at J's Teahouse on Dominion Road, where you can get your drink made with fresh milk and your choice of sweetness. Cheaper alternative with less firm pearls and without the big screen TV playing S.H.E videos: Boluomi, further up Dominion Road.
Coffee: Atomic Coffee in Kingsland are getting pretty close to the level Espresso Workshop (which I haven't yet been to on this trip, as they've moved to a more parking-challenged suburb). Had a pretty good drip Ethiopian, maybe a fraction on the thin-tasting side. Columbus retains an extremely high standard for a big chain.
Other exceptional thing I ate: A crisp braeburn from Mt Roskill Fresh Supermarket.
Must to avoid: The burger at the restaurant on the ground floor of Sky City (another hockey puck to add to NZ's burger infamy). They do pull a proper ristretto there though.
Is there still great Sichuan in Auckland? Can I find a better pie than the pretty good one my Dad got from Onehunga Mall? Will I find palatable food when we drive down to the Waikato? These and other questions to be answered in a future post.