Salmon’s bringing sexy back. At the risk of sounding like a certain voluptuous and seductive British chef, we can’t help but think salmon is perhaps one of the sexier ingredients out there. Without any reference to “pink bits” (had to get that out of the way), salmon is a rather forgiving ingredient that feels and tastes luxurious. It can be meaty or delicate and, to make sure you have a truly successful salmon involved love affair, here’s our guide to the absolute sexiest salmon dishes in Auckland.
Get those mouth drools under control and that tongue safely back inside that mouth of yours. Honestly, there’s little to fault in Ostro’s salmon dish. A solid piece of perfectly cooked salmon with a beautifully crispy skin, perched atop a bed of chorizo and haricot ragout and watercress pistou Before you resort to Google, that translates to beautifully rich emulsion of chorizo and beans with a tangy watercress sauce, similar to pesto sans nuts. But let’s be honest, the French vocabulary is just inherently sexier.
If it’s salmon on the mind, your senses will be treated with Little Jimmy’s salmon dish. The whole restaurant exudes a rather sexy feel, from the thick, exotic accents of the wait staff to the sumptuous ingredients and textures throughout the menu. This tender and perfectly pink Akaroa salmon fillet comes accompanied by sweet wasabi, kohlrabi and salted cucumber. The result feels like a modern take on Japanese treatment of salmon, but a seriously sexy one at that.
Blue Breeze Inn
A crowd-pleaser and a half (although we like to share this one with as little people as poss) is Blue Breeze Inn’s healthy, yet uber delicious salmon salad. Light citrus curing means the salmon is simple and virtuous to boot. Matched with an array of fresh, raw veggies it is topped with perfectly crispy wonton pieces. It’s a mix-it-yourself affair which only adds to the fun and means you can strategically grab exactly the parts you want (slightly cheeky yes but sensible too).
Harbourside's pride of place location in the ferry building is the perfect setting to devour chef Thomas Barta's sensational Salmon dish. Slightly Scandinavian, this entree consists of Manuka smoked Ora King salmon with pickled apple, pickled cucumber, sour cream, dill & rye crisps. Don't just take our word for it, Barta recently took out the best dish award at the prestigious Ora King salmon awards—this man knows his way around this fabulous fish.
Cibo is one of Auckland’s classic top restaurants, hidden away in an old chocolate factory in Parnell for over 20 years. Yes, salmon is a classic ingredient, but Cibo gives it a new lease on life. Their entrée salmon dish consists of citrus cured salmon, pickled prawns, almond, fennel, herb, and mandarin. The pickled prawns really add a slightly sour tang to the dish, accentuated by the citrus in the citrus cure which balances the richness of the salmon just perfectly.
Aromatics rule the flavour palate at Woodpecker Hill—we’re talking spices, chili, smoke, charcoal and a whole host of other fragrances—and their salmon dish is no exception. This is like the whirlwind, heated romance of the salmon world—it comes on strong but is utterly satisfying. Featuring the bold flavours of char-grilled salmon, roasted chili, green apple and coriander, this is a seriously sexy way to get your salmon fix.
Now we all know that the Japanese know their salmon and do beautiful things with this super sexy fish. So the next two restaurants’ inclusion on this list will come as little surprise. Tokyo Bay, sitting pride of place on the Takapuna waterfront serves up their salmon paired beautifully with delicate asparagus and a decent dose of umami, basted in a sweet, nutty miso. Salmon heaven found.
Cocoro’s head chef Makato Tokuyama is renowned for his unique ability to transform local ingredients into pieces of art using traditional Japanese culinary methods. Cocoro’s salmon dish, using the finest quality Ora King salmon = case and point. From their degustation dinner menu, the second dish you receive is the sublime Shiizakana—lightly torched sansho pepper miso cured salmon confit with courgette, Lot 8 olive oil snow, and a hot spring style hollandaise.
Consistency cited as one of the country’s best restaurant, it will come as little surprise that The Grove offers one of the best salmon dishes in the city. Available as part of a five or nine course degustation (nine, no regrets), but be sure to include the Ora King salmon, which comes served with a crème fraiche & potato beignet, smoked butter and horseradish. It looks so goddam beautiful, put your fork amongst it for a perfect balance of flavours that will leave you wanting more—thank god you’ve still got four+ courses to go.
Villa Maria Vineyard
Whilst that awful drive ridden with road works out to the airport may not seem like the most likely place to find a beautiful restaurant, take a slight turn and you're just a couple of minutes from the cafe at Villa Maria. Their Marlborough Sounds pan seared salmon dish is a delight, served with a ginger soy vinaigrette, Asian greens, shiitake mushrooms, peanuts and crispy shallots. Take their well-heeled advice and match with a glass of their verdelho for a truly indulgent lunchtime treat.
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Image credit: Anita Wilhelm