There's a fresh, new addition to Auckland's Vietnamese food scene in the form of Luna's Express. After opening in June, this slice of Vietnam offers diners delectably authentic Vietnamese fare. We arrive one rainy Saturday afternoon. As we step inside, a couple leave and the man exclaims, “wow, that was good”. So, from the get-go, we were expecting big things. It’s a modest, bright and welcoming space that offers a dine-in, make-your-own experience and though its name implies fast food – greasy and tasteless, it isn’t.
We were greeted by manager Malisa – a foodie who is passionate about her craft. She quickly concocted two big bowls of comforting Pho for my partner and I, one chicken and one beef. It was a cold day outside, so it was hugely welcomed. At Luna’s Express, home-made is in its DNA; Malisa took us through each ingredient as she created the bowls, explaining that the rice noodles are all fresh and handmade on the premises each morning at around 5am. We also ordered a small bowl of vegan pho to taste.
Made up of sliced beef, sprouts, spring onion, and ladles of bone broth (boiled on the premises for hours), it was a light, fresh meal bursting with flavour that’s a perfect alternative to the sushi or toast you’ll often find me consuming at midday. The rice noodles were soft but not over-cooked, the beef melted in the mouth, the broth was flavoursome. Admittedly at first, I was a little nervous of my lunch guest and the biggest critic I know, my partner. As a guy with a simple diet, Pho was a new venture for him. But when I looked over, the bowl was almost empty.
But the pièce de résistance, and my favourite part about the entire experience, was the decadent Egg Coffee. A Vietnamese delicacy, it can only be described as a cake in a cup. Made by whipping egg yolks, condensed milk and sugar with coffee – it was famously created in post-war Vietnam, when milk was in short supply. Scraping the topping away from the coffee, it’s sweet, luxurious and completely unexpected. We tried both a regular and chocolate-based version. It's not a commodity in New Zealand, but I dare say you'll find a more perfect combination – one that will both soothe and prepare you for the day ahead.
So, if you’re looking for a wholesome, fast meal without jeopardising on quality and flavour, Luna’s Express is your go-to. It’s an eatery with a home-made feel, a place that’s been well thought out and injected with a tremendous amount of care. This is evident in the way the kitchen is run. Malisa tells me they're meticulously careful of excess waste and ensure elements are compostable. She's also conscious of having sustainable meat processes moving forward.
"You'll have to come back to try our Bahn Mi," Malisa said, "We weren't happy with the bread, so we're baking it fresh, inhouse so we can get it just right." There's no need to ask me twice...
10 Chancery Street,
Monday - Friday: 7am - 4.30pm
Saturday: 11.30am - 5pm