Honour Mitchell: Teen Picks

It’s been one year since I started writing Teen Picks for Ponsonby News! I am extremely thankful and overwhelmed by the opportunity I was given to contribute to such a prestigious magazine.

It has been so much fun and great to have real "work experience”.

Given this is my anniversary article, I thought I’d post an update on the first topic I explored - FOOD (aka Teen Eats). This time I’m profiling four different restaurants. I’ve never left any of them without a fully scraped plate and a large grin smeared on my satiated face.

The Poni Room (172 Quay Street)
Just down the road from Ponsonby, in the heart of bustling Commercial Bay, is a hidden charm - The Poni Room. By 5pm this place is generally bursting with happy customers and dishes galore coming from the kitchen. I advise making a reservation as you certainly do not want to be turned away! My family and I ventured out early one Saturday evening to this Asian-inspired pot of gold, after browsing the retail shops below. It was a seamless connection from fashion to food. We started the night off with the Edamame Beans, honestly, you cannot go wrong with this simple starter.

Next were the real winners: Duck Fat Potatoes (so decadently good, don’t let the name put you off), Asian Slaw (refreshing and tasted good with everything) Typhon Shelter Cauliflower (scrumptious with such awesome flavours), Butternut Squash Yellow Curry (expertly spiced, think curry on steroids, and a perfect accompaniment to the potatoes and cauliflower). And for afters there was a unique concept on offer - self-serve White Sesame Ice Cream, which came with an array of delicious toppings. I was a bit on edge about the flavour but it actually ended up being the perfect blend of sweet and savoury! This is a food paradise - plus the ambiance and sea view will welcome you with open arms.

The Butcher’s Son (204 Jervois Road)
Some people can be quite apprehensive about sitting down for a meal without an ounce of animal protein in sight. Appreciating well-crafted vegan cuisine can be life changing. The Butcher’s Son is an all-vegan restaurant with some of the best meals I have ever eaten, despite having an omnivore palate. I promise you, once you look past the potentially frightening all-vegan sign, a world of exciting opportunities awaits you with a healthy smile. My family and I dine here very regularly for a reason - the yum-factor! Most recently we found a host of newly-added dishes, which is a great thing about the Butcher's Son; fresh menu items land seasonally, so you never get bored. Let me give you a low-down on our latest meal.

Black Bean Nachos, which is a popular staple with all the normal convincing flavours and is probably my favourite dish on the menu. Our family always fights for the last chip. Pad Thai, which barely tastes different from your normal Pad Thai, because their use of a vegan “fish" sauce is astounding!

Caesar Salad, complete with “fak'n bacon", capers, avocado and a Brazil nut creamy dressing that is quite something. Who needs an egg? Gobi ‘Butter’ Masala Curry which is a mild, creamy, tomato curry with fried cauliflower - this really hits the spot on a chilly evening. The Butcher's Son also has a cabinet of desserts, all sugar free, ranging from "Snickers Bars" to delectable “cheesecakes" and that night we were lucky enough to get my favourite flavour: Peanut Butter & Jelly.

Janken (158 Jervois Road)
My most prized restaurant! The menu has never failed me and I always look forward to visiting this cosy, exquisitely designed, neighbourhood hotspot in Herne Bay.

It is our go-to for important family celebrations because we know it won't disappoint. Thankfully Father's Day is just around the corner! We always gravitate towards a few vital dishes; the Sweet Miso Salmon is melt-in-the-mouth perfect, any of their Sushi Roll options because they are always ridiculously fresh, the Tofu or Pork Teriyaki Bao Buns, my favourite dish on the menu, and a constant craving that often appears in my dreams! A nice way to finish the meal is the Chocolate Orange Mousse Cake which has a silky, velvety texture and tastes so good, even though there is no sugar added. If I came here as often as I'd like to, I’d notch up some serious debt.

Saan (160 Ponsonby Road)
Another standout spot in my humble opinion, is Saan; the wide variety of authentic dishes is inspired by the Lanna and Isaan regions of Thailand. Service is such a key part of Saan and we are aways welcomed with the friendliest of greetings - heavens, they even know our names! The atmosphere is a blend of tranquility, style and comfort. An inviting private dining room is perfect for functions, especially for my 16th birthday party! But let's move on to the main reason that makes Saan the popular attraction it is: the cuisine.

To start, the Spicy Grilled Beef on Perilla leaf is a must. These little bundles of explosive flavours are like petit Thai tacos. Then I recommend then the Silken Tofu & Peanut Sauce (crunchy, yet smooth sensations blend well with the flavoursome sauce), Crispy Roast Pork Belly (with caramelised soy, chilli, tamarind and watercress - Dad's favourite), Mussaman Lamb Curry, (a standout, belly warming treat!). Actually, I don’t think I can quite wait until my birthday. Saan I am coming for you, I need a Thai High! (HONOUR MITCHELL)

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