After a recent visit to the Bay of Islands we fell back in love with calamari after enjoying fresh, NZ calamari at the Duke of Marlborough and its little sister Charlotte’s Kitchen. It’s slightly shocking how many places think calamari is rubbery tubes deep fried within an inch of their life and barely deserving of a spot in the horror that usually is a “fisherman’s basket”. Well, fear no longer, plenty of Auckland hot spots are serving up beautiful calamari dishes which will make you forget all about those tough, chewy rings which do little to get the taste buds going.
Here’s our list of the best calamari in Auckland:
Oyster & Chop
For a Japanese take on our favourite little squid morsels, Oyster & Chop pair theirs with a furikaki crumb, togarashi sprinkle and yuzu mayo. That’s a whole lotta unami packed into one dish and it really doesn’t heighten the slight sweetness of the calamari. Calamari does well with a hint of citrus and the mayo made with sour yuzu complements it perfectly.
Non Solo Pizza
Yeah ok, so we’ve already bagged fisherman’s baskets and this is teetering into that realm, but Non Solo Pizza’s Fritto Misto di Mare is in a league of its own. A lightly fried combination of calamari, prawns, fresh market fish, mussels and oysters, paired with the requisite aioli for dipping. It’s testament to the team in the kitchen for getting every single little seafood piece cooked to perfection. Add a glass of Italian wine from NSP’s extensive list and you’re in for a great start to your evening.
Miss Clawdy is well-known around these parts for doing mighty fine fried food in the popular Southern States style. Their fried calamari po’ boy is no exception—this is an appetizer or snack to be reckoned with. Housed in a perfect mini baguette with shredded iceberg and chipotle and lime mayo, this is calamari soul food style and represents the kind of comfort we can’t wait to get amongst come winter.
Jervois Steak House
If you thought Jervois Steak House was all about the steak and nothing but the steak, we’ll forgive you, but also gently tell you that you’re seriously wrong. These guys know how to treat calamari and the flavour combination is is a whole ‘nother level. The dish, perfect to share before tucking into those meaty mains, comes with a chorizo crumb, and one of our favourite ingredient trifecta— avocado, lime, and coriander.
Prego’s calamari are listed on its ‘classics’ menu, and we can’t help but agree that this dish is absolutely timeless. Perfectly cooked calamari just lightly fired and given the respect it deserves, accompanied by aioli and rocket for a that fresh pepperiness. A couple of bites later and you’ll realise that this may just be the calamari you’ve been waiting for all this time.
Soul Bar & Bistro
Soul Bar’s viaduct location lends itself to being one of Auckland’s premier calamari enjoying spots. But let’s put the location to the side for a minute and focus on this amazing dish. The perfectly seasoned squid is just salty enough and comes with an ingenious creamy almond skordalia (a Greek style almond and yoghurt dip) and a dash of fire from a drizzle of chili oil.
Don’t you go turning your nose up at calamari from a fish’n’chip shop. Yes, ok, history may tell us that usually this will be more crumb than calamari and more often than not rubbery rings that could be better used as toddler teething rings. Well Fish Smith is a far cry from your run-of-the-mill F’n’C shop, and their calamari is far beyond the usual takeaway quality. Have as is, or in one of their superlative buns, with red pepper salsa, watercress and smoked garlic aioli no less.
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Image credit: Oyster and Chop via Facebook