February 25, 2013

Ima Cuisine, Auckland

I'm searching the back streets of Auckland for a good place to have dinner when I stumble upon Ima. I'm instantly drawn in by all the orange (although it does make it an absolute pain to take photos). After the flight, Mediterranean food sounds really good...
We step inside and I notice all the mismatched chairs, bookshelves filled with cookbooks and this...
... yes, Gordon. Ramsay.
After ordering from the hand-written menu, I totter over to the open kitchen to see what Chef is doing. It's smiles abound back there! Also, there are strings of dried chilis hanging from the shelf which is totally neat.
Bread with olive oil, sesame seeds, cumin, salt and pepper Complimentary
Just like in Italian restaurants, we're served a plate of bread with olive oil plus something to dip it in. I love it except I need to pace myself because bread is pretty filling...
Chicken liver pate traditional Jewish style $14
Served on grilled brioche
This is different from the pate that I'm used to, in the way that it's not as smooth nor creamy. It's a lot nicer to have more when you're not overwhelmed with creaminess... Thin juliennes of pickled lemons adorn the tops and cut through the meatiness of the pate.
Brik $19
North African delicacy: fresh tuna and preserved lemon in Warqa pastry parcel fried crisp with soft egg inside
Warqa is essentially brik pastry so when you cut into this little parcel, you can hear the fragile cracks. Then take in the egg yolk oozing out (I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for oozy yolks!) from inside the soft tuna. Every mouthful is accompanied by some strips of carrot which, along with the lemon, add some freshness.
Boneless stuffed baked baby snapper $29
At first I actually thought the snapper was boneless... then I realized that they took the bones out... Oops. It's just a plain baked snapper with a some spring onions. The snapper is used as a canvas for the sides. (Below).
Slow braised Lebanese lamb shoulder $15 per portion
I think I almost teared up when I ate this; tender, succulent pieces of lamb with a seriously meaty jus and some onions. Do you love meat? If you answered yes, try this. (With sides; below).
Sides (set of 5) $12 per person
Slightly spicy tomato shallot salad; minty, zesty, crunchy salad; Tunisian grilled carrot salad with feta
These sides are to accompany the snapper and lamb. My favorite from this plate was the grilled carrot (mostly because it has grilled feta and I love cheese). The chargrilled flavor is offset by small knobs of salty cheese. The tomato salad is actually a little spicy... Minty? Check. Crunchy? Check. Zesty? Where....?
Sides (set of 5) $12 per person
Seasonal vegetable dish (tomato, zucchini, eggplant); Arab rice with lentils, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds and caramelized onions
My favorite of these two has got to be the vegetable dish which reminds me of ratatouille (this dish, not the rat). Stewed veggies add a kick of freshness to the proteins. The Arab rice is interesting... Somehow I'm getting some faintly sweet flavors from it. There's a healthy amount of nuts interspersed in the rice, actually imparting flavor rather than being an aesthetic addition.
Arab coffee cooked in a special pot $6 per pot for 2
This little contraption is sweet! It's basically unfiltered coffee in a stove-top coffee pot. The coffee settles into the bottom of the pot, effectively letting you decant the coffee. A small amount of sugar is added just so it's not too bitter. It'll definitely get your heart racing!

Ima Cuisine
57 Fort St,
1010 New Zealand
Ima Cuisine

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