Ponsonby Central has a new tenant with Filipino flair. Sporting a saporous menu and unpretentious décor, this quaint restaurant is full of surprises.
Tucked away, where the greengrocers used to be, is a new Asian-fusion restaurant. It’s simple and it’s delicious. I met my friend at 5.30pm to beat the dinner rush and evidently treat myself to an early night’s sleep. And while it may have been quiet when we arrived, Hidden Village was humming with activity by the time we left.
After a quick catch up, the sweet-yet-shy waitress took our order. We were advised that the menu is designed to share. Much to my friend’s pleasure, a lot of the meals were gluten free and we quickly picked four dishes. From the smaller sharing plates we chose the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. From the larger plates: Tiger Prawn Curry and the savoury pancake, also with prawns. And to freshen things up, the coconut salad.
The first dish to land on the table was the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. My friend later told me that, for her, they were the highlight of the meal. The pork itself was juicy and tender. The deep-fried pastry was crispy with the desired level of oiliness. And the tartness of the vinaigrette cut through all the richness. As far as spring rolls are concerned, this was a game changer.
Both versions of the prawns were equally delectable. In the curry, the prawns had been beheaded and the shells replaced to create ease. Fragrant and packing a punch, I kept going back for more. We had ours with rice, though it would have been hearty enough without.
Savoury prawn pancake – what a meal. A crisp, eggy pancake encased bites of spicy prawn. Inside the sturdy construction, we found a crunchy salad, bean sprouts and a sambal-style sauce. The pancake was topped with crispy shallots because we all know they add a moreish flavour to any dish.
Towards 7pm, when we left, Hidden Village had few remaining tables. There was a pleasant hub-bub of happy-looking diners and the food looked pretty incredible across the board.
My only gripe? It was a little bit chilly. I suggest you take a warm coat, and I’d advise Hidden Village to invest in some toasty heaters. Aside from that, it appears the Ponsonby locals have something new to be pretty darn happy about.
Opening hours: Midday - late, seven days a week