Hello Beasty

Tune in for the sound of good food

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Kim Knight

It’s com­monly ac­cepted we eat with our eyes. But how about our ears? Sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered loud back­ground noise di­min­ishes our per­cep­tions of salty and sweet. It can make us eat faster and drink more. One Swedish study claimed waist mea­sure­ments in­creased 3cm for ev­ery 10 deci­bel rise in road noise. Noise is stress­ful — and food is stress re­lief. Also, if it’s too loud to talk, you might as well drink. The two bot­tles of wine on my Hello Beasty bill? SCI­ENCE.

“I feel like I’m at a gi­ant hen’s party,” said Caro. “Hold my hand­cuffs,” said the strip­per cop. I’m mak­ing that up. I have no idea what any­one said. Thurs­day night and the Viaduct was heav­ing. There were 20 women at the ta­ble next to us. The speak­ers were cranked to drown out the live band at the Ir­ish bar across the way. In short: My taste buds were strug­gling to hear. Hello Beasty, you may be as­tounded to learn, is an Asian fu­sion restau­rant. But in a town where bao is the new bread (and an ac­tual bread) how do you make your silken tofu stand out from ev­ery­one else’s? That is not a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion and the an­swer is: toma­toes. Hello Beasty’s tofu and heir­loom tomato salad ($18) was fresh­ness and light, aided and abet­ted by a spicy-acid hit of yuzu kosho, the condi­ment that comes straight from the Ja­panese sec­tion of the citrus-chilli fer­ment cup­board. Quite a few of the “small plates” are fried, and this salad is the foil they need. Pot-stick­ers? Def­i­nitely. The pork mince was juicy and chunky and their lit­tle wrap­pered bot­toms nice and crisp ($17 for six). The fu­sion thing means a menu that starts with tteok­bokki and fin­ishes with baked meringue and rose­wa­ter cream. Get your kim­chi, katsu and Kaipara lamb shoul­der here. No, re­ally, get the lamb ($36). It’s not per­fect — a Sichuan sauce wasn’t as tongue-numb­ing as I’d ex­pected, and the spring onion flat­breads were, sim­ply, that (in my

head, I’d or­dered flaky, Chi­nese-style pan­cakes) - but the meat was slow-roasted deca­dence. A side bowl of mint and av­o­cado puree was out­stand­ing. Spoon­able proof that not all fu­sion is, as a for­mer col­league once put it, “spew­sion”. If they put this puree in a bot­tle, I’d buy a dozen. My ta­ble loved the “KFC” or Korean fried cauliflower ($17) which, in my hum­ble opin­ion, was more coat­ing than cauli. Get the karaage chicken ($19) for a more fill­ing en­counter with the deep fryer. We didn’t or­der any­thing from the hi­bachi sec­tion of the menu (lamb-pork-beef-chicken sausage) but we did enjoy a “big­ger plate” of bar­be­cued egg­plant on a bed of spinach and miso. It was sweet and sticky, though at $31 (just $4 less than the john dory), felt pricey. Mod­ern menus dic­tate not all mains are meat and as plants con­tinue to push into pole po­si­tion it’s in­evitable we’ll see sup­ply-and-de­mand price creep. Re­mem­ber when you could still af­ford lamb shanks? Beasty’s best bang-for-your-buck is an adorable ce­ramic cup con­tain­ing (what else?) cup noo­dles. For $14 you get pork belly, dumplings, broth, spring onions, an egg and a re­ally ex­cel­lent photo for your so­cial me­dia feed.

I am plan­ning a re­turn visit where I will sit at one of the stools by the kitchen, far away from the mu­sic speak­ers and the slightly claus­tro­pho­bic (and not super com­fort­able) booths. I will slurp noo­dles and try the “katsu sando” — the soft, white bread, crumbed pork roll, that is the dar­ling du jour of Los An­ge­les restau­rant open­ings but has, so far, been by­passed by Auck­land’s many other Asian fu­sion open­ings. How do you stand out from that crowd? In just its third week, Hello Beasty was nail­ing it. We got off to a shaky start when we re­quested an in­side ta­ble, but once seated, the ser­vice was seam­less. That ta­ble of 20 was there for a very smart $65 deal where the kitchen makes all the de­ci­sions. They were hav­ing a ter­rific night.

The en­tire Viaduct was hav­ing a ter­rific night. This is a restau­rant for sum­mer. For Christ­mas party shoes, a bright heart and your out­door voice. Dessert and a deep and mean­ing­ful? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.

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