Just what the kids ordered
LUSCIOUS AND LENGTHY
Spade Oak Voysey Chardonnay 2013. RRP $18.50 Yes, chardonnays are back in fashion and this wine proves why. It won’t bombard you with buttery oaks, but it is intense and acidic and packed with luscious apricot flavours. Good length lets you sip and savour. While just peachy by itself, it goes very nicely with white meat. Poultry and pork are recommended, and pasta would also be a good match.
Cooking tea had fallen into the toohard basket and we wanted a family-friendly restaurant. So we headed for the brash, garish box that’s Buddha Stix, handily set back from Riccarton Rd. Handy because it gives you a shot at a house car park, which is a real plus on that busy street.
Buddha Stix is friendly. The staff were happy to see us, politely warned us to be done by 8pm (which felt like a win as the woman on the phone had said 7.45pm) and led us to a table near the huge ceiling-to-floor windows at the front.
The design is eclectic and features various arrangements of coloured tiles on the walls and dark tables arrayed in a closely packed phalanxes. Christmas music was playing loudly but only just climbed above the roar of the diners around us.
Buddha Stix takes a super accessible approach to its wide-ranging Asian food. The menu reassures that curries are served mild to medium in spiciness. Food and drink prices are reasonable. You’d have to be a diehard meat-and-three-veg type to not like it.
I would want more complexity and less sweetness, but the family hat was on and we were here on a mission. And it paid off. A satay chicken starter was skewered breast meat strips, bright yellow with turmeric, served on rice with a mildly spiced crunchy peanut sauce. Bland, said the wife. ‘‘Fantastic,’’ said the kids. ‘‘Just try that,’’ they said excited. ‘‘I like the crunchiness of the peanut sauce.’’
Guri puffs – puff pastry wrapped around sweet potato and some unknown green vegetables, were another hit, served with sweet chilli and soy dipping sauces. Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls starred mint instead of coriander and udon-style noodles instead of the usual vermicelli but were pleasant enough and disappeared quickly.
My favourite among the mains was a simple vegetarian nasi goreng that was satisfying, filling and tasty. Unfortunately I hadn’t ordered it.
My choice was the hottest thing I could find on the menu, which appeared to be a chilli chicken stir fry. There was a kind of crank-up-the-heat effect from adding more chilli powder, but really it didn’t go anywhere much and no-one else would touch it. But I enjoyed the veges of broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and baby sweet corn.
Another hit was lemon chicken – coated fried chicken in a sweet lemon sauce, jasmine rice and an odd pile of deep fried kumara chips. We do a version at home and there was debate over which was better. In the end our home sauce won, but Buddha Stix’s chicken got the nod.
Vietnamese pork salad had the bright fresh flavours of a fish sauce-lime juice dressing and coriander, although the pork was strangely flabby.
Dessert was a cheesecake that had a lemon and lime drizzle of flavour on top, a startlingly good berry compote, a blob of cream and a couple of lychees. The lychees were all mine – the family don’t know what they missed.
Buddha Stix is exactly what the hundred-plus who would dine there that night want. It did the job.
Easy going: Buddha Stix is a good family dining option. Photo: EWANSARGENT