146 Ponsonby Road
(09) 360 0303
12pm - late
The Blue Breeze Inn is inside Ponsonby Central, but it feels like a restaurant on an imaginary tropical island. There are coconut walls, exotic Rousseau-like fabric printed chairs and staff wearing garish Hawaiian shirts. It’s an China-meets-Bali blend that I’ve never seen before and would never have imagined could exist until I stepped into this restaurant for the first time. It’s warm, busy and so narrow that the waiters have to squeeze by, particularly when you’re sitting at the kitchen bar.
That’s a great spot though, watching Chef Che Barrington and his team create dish after dish from the modern Chinese menu. Our favourite thing, and everyone elses, undoubtedly, is the Barbequed Pork Buns; tender pork belly in a sweet, light dough with the bite of pickled cucumber and the bright flavour that only fresh coriander can bring.
The Prawn Har Gau are pretty special as well, prawns in a silky, almost transparent dumpling that you douse in a bath of chilli oil before eating. Each bite is a textural triumph. The spicy dishes here really soar (try the bang bang chicken), but those on the mild side have a subtlety and depth of flavour that I love just as much. We tried steamed monkfish with black beans in a shiaoxing broth that was so tasty I wanted to drink it straight from the bowl.
That kind of behavior probably wouldn’t even be frowned upon here actually, it’s a fun menu for a fun place – a little spicy, a little messy, and a little bit facetious. The Blue Breeze Inn is the kind of rowdy restaurant where the waiters make you laugh while they’re topping up your water. It feels like a party.