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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Benjarong of Howick

Welcome to Benjarong, a thai restaurant with a warm and homey ambience. Parents brought us here when Food King was in NZ, so the 4 of us went for dinner together.

Like the ambience, I thought the decor was really pretty. They have thai figurines as well and they make you feel like you're back in Thailand. Cute hats!

For starters, we decided to try Combination Thai Entree ($13.50). Their menu description of this was, "A bit of everything". Not really, in my opinion. As you can see, the entree had 1 stick of satay (meat on a stick), a spring roll, a curry puff and some fried chicken. Overall rating of food was only so-so, it wasn't worth the price at all.

My parents suspected that it one entree would not be enough, so they ordered two.

We ordered the one of my favourite thai dishes, Pad Thai Prawns ($26.50). You can also have Pad Thai Chicken ($23.50). This is one of my all-time thai dishes. They served the usual nuts, chilli and beansprouts by the side and we mixed them together. The taste was authentic, noodles were quite chewy and the prawns were relatively fresh. Tasted good but the portion was pathetic.

Roasted Duck Curry ($29.50). Thick & spicy curry, which went very well with rice. There was not much duck and there were lots of vegetables so that's something that they should improve on.

Kang Kaew-Wan Benjarong ($25.50). In other words, Thai Green Curry. We chose chicken for our meat (you can also choose beef). Didn't like the green curry here as much as other places because there was a strange smell, which I didn't like. Mum says it was because of the bamboo shoots; the smell actually spoiled the whole taste for me. On the other hand, there was a bit too much coconut milk inside the curry. As for the chicken portions, it was the same case for the Red Duck Curry; too much veg, too little chicken.

Pla Snapper ($33.50). Deep fried whole snapper with chilli-corriander. The fish was spicy, as requested by my parents. It was also crispy and the skin was yummy too. It didn't taste fishy, as the tamarind sauce and chilli taste was over-powering. Nicely done.

Kata Benjarong ($26.50). Beef served on a sizzling hot plate (you can also choose chicken). Served with green vegetables. The meat was quite tender and the sizzling smell made me salivate as it was brought over to our table by the thai waiter. Mildly-spicy. Yum!

Overall the food is good although service could have been a lot better; the thai waiter who served our main meals was quite unfriendly (barely any eye-contact and no smiles) and when we were enquiring about the desserts, one of the older waitresses who looked around 40+ came to answer my parents' questions. Unfortunately, she was quite arrogant and impatient when doing so. When my parents asked her a question about the desserts, she rudely answered them and this put us off. We think that she is a supervisor because of the way she ordered the other waitresses/waiters around.

The prices here are also quite up-market. Pad-Thais in NZ are on average, about $20 (with prawns) and red duck/green curries are around $20-$22.

I've re-checked the prices since the last time I came here (which was not long ago) and the prices have dramatically increased since then ($5-$6 increase per dish). From my last visit here, the food was good but the prices are too expensive as compared to so many other thai restaurants around. Nothing outstanding here and unless I find something that I really love here and can't find in other thai places (which I haven't) or the prices decrease, I would not be interested in patronising this place again - not with so many thai restaurants around Auckland. Especially not with the sucky service we encountered on our last visit.

Benjarong Howick
87 Picton Street, Howick, Auckland
Phone: (09) 5339568

Lunch: Mon-Fri 11.30am to 2.30pm
Dinner: 7 nights from 4.30pm

Benjarong Milford
81 Kitchener Road, Milford, Auckland
Phone: (09) 4899568

Dinner: 7 nights from 4.30pm

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