7/255 Lincoln Rd.
09 972 9847
Lunch and dinner,
Closed Monday only.
The chef-owner says that he cooks Pacific Rim. It doesn't matter.
Henderson is an ordinary suburb in west Auckland. Lincoln Rd, the main street, is the Valley of the Fast Food. There are about 50 outlets. Then there is Chikos! We think that it is miles ahead of THE FAMOUS ONE (sic: deference to moderators' delete policy) in Auckland.
Our go- to, even though we need to go from the other side of town. How did I find it?
The need to attend at a government office brought me to Henderson for the first time. There are many ethnic restaurants, a fruit store and a winery close to the office, so I decided to explore a bit. I almost didn't check out Chikos. Because of the name, I thought that it was Latino- the highlight of the menu was going to be overcooked steak with a fried egg on top. It is Henderson, after all. I passed it by and went into the neighbouring winery, Mazarans. On the way back to my car, I went in only because of what the heck, I am already here. The chef- owner was supervising some construction work. He is Filipino. It's like this. My exposure to Filipino cooking has led me to believe that it is one of the worst cuisines in the world. A pot hanging from a tripod of vinegar, sugar and salt; everything is brown or white; way overcooked.
To appear to be polite, I feigned interest and asked to see the menu. Gee, this looks really interesting! What a surprise! I spoke a bit more with the chef-owner. It was incumbent on me to make nice with the Ms. so we went that night.
Wow! We go there regularly since then. How good do I think it is? The last time, after having been out of New Zealand for six months, I asked the chef-owner if he was expecting Michelin inspectors.
The chef- owner spent many years with Hyatt and Intercontinental Manila, starting at sixteen as a student-slave and ending up as executive chef. Most of his career was in Asia- Philippines, Singapore, Kuwait, Japan and in NZ, Sky City. He also spent some time in France. His training is in the French style. His corporate career led him to work with chefs from all over the world. He is a culinary sponge and his plates are a culmination of his experience. His cooking has great freedom in his choice of ingredients and is Asian influenced. His plates are interesting and delicious. Controlled, but much more than just correct. And of course everything on the plate is good. He gives "fusion cooking" a good name, but the result on the plate eats so naturally, so without narcissism, that I just call it excellent cooking. What has survived from Philippine cooking is that the chef gives the customers enough to eat.
In summary. Exquisite cooking but nothing prissy, generous portions, no more expensive than at an ordinary place. A bargain for what you get. One reason that chef manages is that he brings a lot of food sense and cooking talent to relatively common ingredients. We have never seen lobster, truffles, foie gras or the like on the menu. That's OK, his lentils are to die for!
As if postscripts.
1. In French cooking, vegetables and grains can be a mere garnish. At Chikos, they are an integral part of the dish and delicious. Every dish is composed and it has its own bits and pieces. These are so good that sometimes we ask for a big mixed plate of whatever sides he has as a shared "Arabesque" starter or as a lunch main.
"Arabesque": You sit down, the waiter puts down about twelve little dishes. You are terrified of what this is going to do to the bill but you eat them because you are going to pay for them anyway. They are really good, so good that you start think that you are not going to mind the bill. You get the bill and you discover that they are included with the main dish. You leave a really nice tip. Here the "salatim" are all on one plate.
2. The sous -chef in training for a number of years, William Mordido, took second place in the 2016 international finals of the Jeunes Chefs Competition, Chaine de Rotisseurs ("Association Mondiale de la Gastronomie").
Both the chef-owner and William have done well in and even won other international competitions. Good presentation showcases the excellent cooking at Chikos.
3. Behind every plate of food there is a Chikos. Literally. Chikos is the nickname of the chef-owner's wife who is Japanese. She runs the front of the house and also serves guests. Change the name of the restaurant- so that people don't make the same mistake as I made? Never!
4. Mazarans was established in the 1938 by a Croatian immigrant. This whole part of Henderson had been vineyards. There is still a shop set in a small vineyard for the customers and maybe there are property tax considerations. Mazarans specializes in sherries and ports! Stop in.
From the website
Founded in 1938 by George Mazuran OBE, Mazurans are New Zealands only port wine specialists. Producing tawny ports, ruby and white port, vintage port from 1942-2000, white muscat, sherry blends, red/white wines.
National and International award winners for over sixty years, winemaker of the year USA.
New cellar and tasting area now open. Groups welcome. Call now 0800 PORT WINE.
• Sauvignon Blanc
• Pinot Noir
• Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon Blends
• Pinot Gris
5. Every review and customer's post on the internet that I have seen for Chikos has been highly favourable, with the exception of Peter Calder's review, in the NZ Herald. Calder's review on Chikos and a couple other places was so misleading (and smug) that I don't follow him any more. See http://www.chowhound.com/post/restaur...
6. Chikos in Henderson is a bit out from where tourists frequent. The plus side is that it is easy to get to and there is ample free parking in front. Google says that it is 16 minutes or 14.8 Km from The Langham Hotel on Symonds St.
Here's a nifty website for taxi fares https://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.p...