Tiny sushi bar Bian - not to be confused with the also brilliant Bien restaurant on Shortland St - supplies the local area with lunch every day, pumping out a fantastic selection of donburi, soups, nigiri and maki rolls. Lovely fresh tuna and salmon, along with more unusual fillings such as deep-fried oyster, rare beef, and sesame-fried green beans. The wasabi is fresh, home-made, and free of additives. And it's self-service, so you can pick a mixed selection of your favourites.
The busy, cheery kitchen will make up a roll for you if they run out of anything. Reliable, friendly and surprisingly cheap - and it's also BYO and open at night. You can't really go wrong.
183 Symonds St, Auckland
Phone: 09-309 5609
For budget travellers, Food Alley at the bottom of Albert Street is a must. It has stalls selling food from almost every country in Asia, from Turkey to Japan and at rock bottom prices.
Try the lamb pasanda from "A Taste of Turkey" (the proprietor is actually Iranian) for NZ$8.50 (that's £2.40 in Brit money).
The food is better than your average food hall.
Lower Albert Street, opposite Stamford Plaza hotel, near the viaduct.
While in Auckland city:
If you'd like to see some beautiful old villas wonder in the suburbs of Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Parnell and Mt. Eden. All these places offer a great mix of clothes' shops and cafes especially Ponsonby Road and Jervois Road.
If it's a fine day, get on the ferry to Waiheke island [only takes 20 minutes], and visit some of the famous vineyards [Stoneridge is one of my favourites]. Have lunch at spectacular Te Whau restaurant.
On a weekend, head North of Auckland and visit Warkworth, Matakana and Leigh. There is a farmers' market in Matakana on Saturday mornings from 8am - 1pm and plenty of small vineyards producing excellent wine. Stop and eat at the Sawmill Cafe in Leigh and burn it all off afterwards with a long walk on breathtakingly beautiful Pakiri beach.
Half an hour by ferry out into the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island is a fantastic day trip for a change of pace. Sea Kayaking, cycling, tramping or hanging out on the beaches, if the weather is good (and it's usually better than the City) you can't go wrong.
Fullers ferries operate services throughout the day departing from the Harbourfront.
An institution on K Rd this cafe/bar/restaurant has been around since the early 90's. Its a relaxed affair with interesting clientele, a great wine list and excellent music. A perfect place to do some general lounging around.
168 Karangahape Road; Mon-Sat: 11am till late (Fri & Sat even later!), Sun: 5pm till latish; www.verona.co.nz
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