By Thirsty Travellers contributor Kirsten Molloy
As followers of The Thirsty Travellers know, discovering brilliant new places to eat is great fun. While our choices are limited right now, we are lucky to have many happy travel memories as we wait for restrictions to lift.
We discovered Culprit in the heart of Auckland in January this year and it was one of the best food experiences we have ever had.
What drew us to Culprit was that it uses food items that others may throw away or as the restaurant describes it “a haven for the secondary cuts and the unloved”. The dining concept is based on yum cha, but the food style is modern NZ. So it is already an eclectic mix of concepts.
When we arrived, we walked past an overhead projector set up at the entrance. We hadn’t seen one off those in a while, and had to explain to our 13 year old what it was! The decor inside continued in a funky fashion. The kitchen is in full view of the diners, and there was very friendly vibe from the staff.
You can pick or choose from the yum-cha style menu of smaller bites to eat, or run through all of them or order multiples of any. The menu lists the hero ingredients which included: octopus and pepperoni, wagyu rump tataki, sugar snap peas, beef shin croquette, white peach and lamb ribs. The restaurant also had larger plates of food, to share (or not!). We had some oysters, pippis, crinkle cut chips and zucchini flowers. It was all amazing and what was even better was the kitchen’s ability to manage a gluten-free, dairy-free diner.
The staff were friendly and helpful with the menu, and there was no compromise on the food, as most items could be adapted or were OK to eat. The standouts were the lamb ribs (our best lamb dish ever) and the white peach, which was grilled, and served with walnut and blue cheese sauce (this description does not do justice to this amazing dish).
A locally brewed Garage Project craft beer, Heels too Jesus, was a great accompaniment. Dessert of champagne collet jet planes and kaffir lime sherbert and a chocolate espresso martini topped the night off well.
We would highly recommend Culprit if you’re looking for a great dining experience with plenty of variety. And don’t just take our word for it, Marco Pierre White, the godfather of modern cooking, said “the greatest fried chicken wings I’ve ever had in my life” were are Culprit.
In these COVID-19 times, if you happen to be in Auckland, Culprit chefs Jordan MacDonald and Kyle Street are offering meal kits and ready-to-go heat and eat meals, with delivery (free up to 3km radius, $10 fee up to 8km radius).