Five of the best food courts in Auckland
Food courts are proof that deliciousness does not depend on cleanliness. That sparrows make acceptable table mates. That different cultures can rub along splendidly in a very small space. Hurrah!
Here are five of our favourites, from both sides of the Harbour Bridge and serving dishes from mainly Asia but also beyond.
1. Food City - 15 Mason Ave, Otahuhu.
Food City has heaps of authentic ethnic eats, though not the haggis and Irn-Bru one might expect from a shop called Aberdeen. Otahuhu's Aberdeen is Singaporean, you see, and a fine place to get peppered beef on a sizzling hot plate or some stir fried squid.
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As well as the usual slew of Asian offerings, Food City has Kiwiana Korner. Living up to its name, serving up chops, mussel fritters, and burgers with hearty sides of eggs and chips, they've even got pavlova for pudding.
2. Mercury Plaza - 23-31 Mercury Ln, Newton.
It hosts hungry All Blacks and hungover K-Road clubbers, inspired a rap song, sparked the irreverent Mercury Plaza Worship Group on Facebook, and will eventually be gutted for a station on Auckland's new City Rail Link. This food court is an institution sadly singing its swansong.
"The best thing about MERKS is that you could either have sitting next to you a sports star, a CEO of a semi successful company or a man dressed as a woman," reads its worship group's page on Facebook. "It] brings many a D class celebrity right down to the humble student exquisite feed after exquisite feed of the finest dishes Asia has to offer."
3. Food Alley - 9 Albert St, CBD.
Always buzzing, it can be hard to find a free table at this granddaddy of food courts. CBD office-folk flock for a taste of exoticism: gaudy signs in assorted Asian lingos, a fetching cherry blossom mural on level two, and some occasionally odd fellow diners.
Feast upon chicken with salty fish in a clay pot at Clay Pot Rose (pro tip: order with noodles, not rice), laksa from the Malaysian joint in the middle of the first floor, or Seoul Seoul's BBQ pork on a plate the shape of a cow - if you want my advice.
4. Food Court - 79-83 Anzac Ave, CBD.
There is a Reddit thread on this hidey-hole by a halfway house, prosaically called simply Food Court, where it is bestowed less glowing names. But its clientele (mainly students), all vouch that despite its unprepossessing looks, "it's all good bro".
Thai Issaan can't be beat on spiciness. Yummy BBQ is not a misnomer. And Urban Sizzlers does exciting things with goat.
5. Food City - 6-10 Kilham Avenue, Northcote.
Food City (the second) is most lauded for its refugee from the Christchurch earthquakes - Freska Souvlaki. They're Greek souvlakis proper; chunks of succulent meat - none of the shaved miscellany you get in kebabs - with salad and yoghurt sauce all wrapped up in a warm puffy pita-type bread, à la an ice cream cone. These babies are rare in Auckland.
Another highlight is duck from the enchantingly named Fu - U Roast & BBQ. Japanese, Malaysian, Indian, and Thai fare are also on offer, as if you couldn't have guessed.