The BBQ King (North Shore City, New Zealand)
Would you dare dining in a restaurant that was reported that its staff had links to confirmed Covid-19 cases if the food is really good? Late January this year The BBQ King on Oteha Valley Rd, in Albany was in the headlines where a dozen of their workers had visited multiple times by two people confirmed to have Covid-19, luckily they all had returned negative results. It was a blow to their business as people got afraid dining in there even the staff returned negative results, what’s even worse the surrounding business also suffered. They had closed for 14 days and like most businesses here in New Zealand they took as many precautions as they can to ensure the safety of their staff and that of the public.
Several months later here we are after that big news, but they are thriving, in fact there were a lot of people dining in when we visited the place, it seems that nothing had happened. We are quite confident that we are safe as New Zealand take this pandemic seriously specially if you are in the limelight since we are one of the few countries where COVID is quite contained, meaning there are no COVID cases out of our quarantine facilities. We do a lot of contact tracing, where every citizen is encouraged to get the contact tracing app and scan their way in on any establishments they enter, this means it’s easy to trace and alert if a COVID case happened outside of the quarantine facility. I am sure everyone that visit this place have a higher possibility that they scan, just to make sure if something out of the ordinary happens.
Going back to our restaurant, yes it did feel normal, people look like they had no hesitations coming at this place. It was my daughter who recommended it as this place is quite popular with the Asian community specially when it converts into a Korean K-Pop Disco Pub called Dokkaebi at 9:00 PM at night after the Chinese restaurant completed its dining service. We came here with our close friends who we did miss since we haven’t seen each other for a while due to COVID, it was a really nice catch up with them and we had a really good and reasonably priced dinner.
When we came in, I was under the impression that this place is still suffering from lack of patrons but as mentioned it was packed to the brim. Luckily there was a large table available for us otherwise they would possibly ask if we had a reservation. Like most Chinese places the menu was quite extensive, I hated that, especially when you’re hungry, last thing you want to do is search for a food in a 10 plus page menu. Good that we had our friends with us, so we let them choose.
We grabbed several full-sized dishes, a couple of fried rice and some xiaolongbao.
For the fried rice we chose Fried Rice with Kimchi (NZ$15.80) and Fried Rice with Seafood (NZ$15.80). Both fried rice are good and the serving size was quite big. The Kimchi Rice rice with sunny side up eggs and it was done quite differently to the usual Kimchi Fried rice where it is like a fusion of the Chinese Fried rice and Kimchi Fried rice as it contains not just Kimchi but carrots, corn, peas and a bit of pork, making it a bit flavourful but with mild Kimchi taste. Good for the ones who does not like it spicy.
For the Fried Rice with seafood, it was generously studded with seafood like prawns and squid. This one was my favourite of the two rice.
We also had this Hand-made steamed bun stuffed with juicy pork (NZ$9.80). While the menu photo shows only six pieces, they arrive on our table with eight. It was as expected, the soup inside was very tasty and the dumpling skin was nice and thin.
For our main dishes, the first one to arrive was the Beef Curry (NZ$24.80), it was a first for us, ordering a curry on a Chinese place so we did not set any high expectations on this. Having said that it was good, it was not similar to Indian curries at all since it was mild, even milder than a Japanese curry. It was more like a beef stew with hints of curry, meat was very tender. Nevertheless it was delicious.
Then we have the Mapo Tofu, this one was not on the menu, but since one of our friends love this dish we asked if they make it, which obviously they did. It was another mildly spiced version but again it was amazing, another dish for those who can’t take spicy food. While it was mild there were hints of Sichuan peppercorns, so the numbing sensation was there.
Next dish was this Deep Fried Spare Ribs with Minced Garlic (NZ$28.80), this was my least favourite of the order but it was not bad at all, it was quite tasty, very crispy but I find the meat a bit on the tough side.
And for the last dish and perhaps the most unexpected favourite, the Mustard Green Tender (NZ$28.80). At first, I thought we ordered a stir fried or blanched greens but the one that arrived was more like a soupy vegetable dish. Made with mustard greens, mushrooms, century egg and salted duck egg and quail eggs it reminds me of the Three Eggs Polunchay that I made a while back. It was very tasty for a vegetable dish, in fact everybody loved it, the soup was super savoury, full of umami, and the mustard greens which is usually bitter, this one was not. It was cooked perfectly, crispy but tender.
Overall the food was great, it was better than most Chinese restaurants here in Auckland, I think that’s the reason why people flock here even it had a bad reputation because of that earlier news. The place was indeed clean, the prices are reasonable, the serving sizes were quite big. My only reservation, since this place it packed always when we were there they ran out of tea kettles which was serve your own, so we have to wait for it after they were cleaned by the staff, so it was quite a wait until we had our tea. Otherwise, it’s a highly recommended place, perhaps we would try their skewers next time around.
龍門蟹甲 The BBQ King
Address: Oteha Valley Road, Albany, Auckland 0632, New Zealand
Phone: +649 414 6070