Situated in what was previously The Antique Shop, Daisy Chang brings a breath of fresh air to the historically-rooted main street of Howick, Auckland.
Weave through the garden oasis to enter Daisy Chang’s establishment. The wall texture changes as you proceed deeper into Daisy’s place: first it’s bare concrete, then it’s newspapers which detail historical events such as the moon landing. And finally a floral-patterned, Ralph Lauren fabric, which leads us to the heart of the restaurant – Daisy’s kitchen.
She was a trendsetter and quite the party girl, sometimes known as ‘Dirty Daisy’ according to the stylist and designer, Fiona Hugues. People came from far and wide to her dinner parties, for a taste of her fine cooking.
Every artefact in the restaurant has a rich backstory. Many of these were originally property of the antique shop. The velvet-lined Victorian pass was once a pharmacist’s cabinet from Auckland Museum Motat and the rod-shaped lamps were formerly mining lights. It was quite the effort to lift them up, let alone attach to the ceiling, says Carmen Holmes, owner of Daisy Chang.
Skip forward in time, and the restaurant offers modern Howick an ambitious menu with flair.
We started the night off with a Mojito and a Good Buzz Kombucha.
The Hawker Roll was difficult to share – not because it was hard to split in half, which we managed, but because it was hard not to keep it all to myself. We chose the 5 Spice Duck option with cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce. The flavours and textures harmonised wonderfully. Sweet and sticky hoisin, tender duck, spicy spring onion and refreshing slices of cucumber – all of this on top of a buttery and flaky roti. I have found my new guilty pleasure.
We also ordered a side of Pawpaw Slaw. The green beans and bean sprouts provided a nice crunch. The dressing is sweet, spicy and sour at the same time – so don’t go shoving it all down in one go.
When the manager Dylan recommended the steamed bao bun with soft shell crab, I was sceptical. Firstly, the sight of a whole crab with its claws dangling out the sides of a bun confused me. And secondly, the crab shell texture would be an odd juxtaposition to the soft and fluffiness of a bao bun. Somehow, it worked. The shell didn’t wreck my teeth, the flesh was succulent and I enjoyed the juiciness of the crab. It was a delightful contrast to the pillowy bun.
Apologies to the coriander-haters, but I think more of the grassy and spicy herb would’ve given the bun a fresher kick. Polarising opinion, I know. But if there was one thing I’m sure everybody will approve of, it's the sriracha mayo.
We weren’t planning to have dessert, but the staff persuaded us and boy, was I glad we did.
We were still lusting over the roti, so we decided on the Sweet Hawker Roll with caramelised apple and cinnamon ice cream. The apple fell apart at the touch of my spoon, the ice cream was silky smooth, the caramel sauce was absolutely divine and a sheath of buttery roti made this dessert the perfect package. It was the star of the night.
You're probably still waiting for me to tell you who Daisy Chang is. But with a restaurant boasting such fresh flavours, I'll let you make the trip and find out for yourself.
31 Picton Street,
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11 am – Late