Nestled on the corner of Davis Crescent and Carlton Gore Road, Tucks & Bao is a new and very welcome entrant to the bustling Newmarket food scene.
With temptations such as the Belly Bao — crispy pork belly with hoisin sauce, peanuts and coriander, $14; Low and Slow — pulled pork with cucumber, red onion, salad and Filipino BBQ sauce, $12; Mr Miyagi’s Wonton Salad — chicken, bacon, egg, iceberg lettuce and wonton crisps tossed through a Caesar dressing, $22; and the Bao Nut — a sweet deep fried bao covered in cinnamon and sugar, served with ice cream and a delicious chocolate sauce, $10, on the menu it’s difficult (but so much fun) to make a choice. And let us not forget the cocktails — a Sour Bitch, anyone? That’s a classic whiskey sour made with bourbon and syrups, $14, in case you’re wondering.
Tucks & Bao is very relaxed but we’re extremely serious about good food and great service.
It’s cuisine that’s best described as Asian fusion laced with flavours from around the globe. “Our food & beverage director, Devo takes European cooking techniques and applies Asian flavors and sauces to them,” says Tucks & Bao owners Benedict and Nela Hefford. “It’s the combination of all the textures and flavours that creates a bit of magic.”
“The idea came when we were sitting on Khao San Road in Bangkok,” says Benedict. “We thought it would be great if we could create the same sort of vibe in Auckland.”
Once they found the location, down came the chandeliers and up went the funky lighting, a bar reminiscent of an outdoor grass fringed bar in Bali and bamboo trims with heritage blue accents.
“I was inspired by the school tuck-shop for the Tucks in our name,” says Nela. “Bao is an Asian steamed bun, a bit like brioche but with a more interesting consistency.” Indeed, the couple has had a lot of fun with the names on the menu too. The kids’ offerings in particular are a hoot with titles like: ‘I Don’t Know, I Don’t Care’ and ‘I’m Not Hungry’. And then there’s ‘Short n’ Beefy’ aka tender beef short rib slow braised in Rendang sauce, $28, or, how about ‘Miss Piggy and Mr Krabs’, which is delicate pork belly with fresh soft shell crab on an Asian salad, also $28.
“Nela and I are big foodies,” says Ben. “So we wanted to create something that was casual, fun, unpretentious and somewhere that didn’t leave people with an extortionate bill at the end of their visit. Tucks & Bao is very relaxed but we’re extremely serious about good food and great service.”
Verve can vouch for that. We tried the Eurasian offerings, which were crunchy wonton tacos with Asian slaw, sriracha and spicy mayo with tofu (they also come with shrimp, chicken, pork or fish), $16, drizzled with hot sauce, and it was delicious. Pair that with friendly service and a nice glass of vino or one of the many craft beers on offer, and you’ve got a venue well worth a visit.
Photos: Lakshay Sharma
TUCKS & BAO
19 Davis Cres, Newmarket, Auckland | 09 520 3923