On Saturday I was lucky enough to preview the newest restaurant in Auckland: Culprit.
I’ve heard rumblings about this place for a while now. Probably because I follow Kyle Street on Instagram and am a creepy fangirl. But if you don’t know who he is, you’ve probably eaten his food. Well, you’ve definitely eaten his food if you’ve ever eaten at Depot or The Fed. Those restaurants have his stamp all over them and he’s a massive reason for why they are exceptional. Last year Street decided to branch out and open his own baby. Before this he travelled pretty extensively (see, the creepy Instagram fan knows all things) which is probably why the menu is quite new, novel and well – him.
Culprit. is located above Misters on Wyndham Street, just a minute away from the bustle of mundane Queen Street. (Also about a 5 min walk from my work, holla). The fit out is cool, the extractor fan is marvellous (look I was almost sitting underneath it) and the staff are pretty much the best in the business – when we walked in I felt like it was a family reunion, “oh my god! It’s so nice to see you again!”. There’s a big bar with stools that aren’t uncomfortable. There are massive brick walls painted white with cool fluorescent light fixtures. They take bookings. And the menu is fun. The menu is served YUM CHA style. This is awesome guys.
It’s so smart. Think about it. A cart rolled around from table to table with fresh from the kitchen small bites, and prices clearly advertised. You know how much it costs, and exactly what it looks like before you dig in. And it’s not all brown and deep fried. It’s ceviche. It’s tartare. It’s DOUGHNUTS. Look, I have a love hate relationship with shared plate restaurants but depending on the company – this is the smartest invention ever.
The night we dined, we got to preview a large selection of the Yum Cha menu, as well as one larger plate (served separately) and dessert. The menu is short and sweet, as it’s mostly the small plates and these will change on a daily basis and are explained by your server when they are wheeled by. Mutton Neck Tagine, Braised Pig Face, Pork Stuffed Peking Duck, King of Fish and Roast Beef all feature as larger plates at this time. And a small koha of dips and crackers came out to start. If you can arrange it, sit at the bar. You get a fantastic view of the team at work including Kyle and Jordan who run the show, the Peking duckies hung from the racks, precision on the prep table and efficiency on the pass. The staff will mark down your Yum Cha selections on a piece of paper mounted to a board at your table and these are tallied at the end of your meal. Most run from about $8 – $12 and are dishes meant to be shared between two, otherwise order a couple of each.
The wine list was fun and interesting, but not over the top. The coffee machine behind the bar surely pumps out at least as good of java as Depot (which serves excellent coffee btw). And the staff are just brilliant. There’s a reason why the two guys running front of house have both won Metro Magazine’s ‘Personality of the Year’. So enough chatting. Just go and eat all the food. This place will be seeing a lot of me.
A full list of what we ate on the First Taste evening:
Yum Cha Selections:
Flat Iron Tartare with Sour Cream Panacotta & Waffle Cut Crisps
Kingfish Kokoda with Hot Sauce Jelly
Warmed Tuatua with Pepperoni
Curious Cropper Tomatoes with Salami Cured Cheese
Chicken Liver Parfait & Donuts with Pinot Noir Syrup & Young Chard
Carpetbag Oyster with Horseradish & Bresaola (*my fav)
For The Table:
Pork Stuffed Peking Duck –
Iceberg, our Hoisin, Pickled Cucumber & Spring Onion
On the Side:
Waffle Cut Potato –
Curly Parsley, Truffle Oil, Parsley Mayo
Ugly Carrots –
Pumpkin Seed Dukkah, Smoked Yoghurt, Coriander
*This post was not sponsored and all opinions are the authors own. Meal was purchased by the author. Tbh they might as well take all my monies now.