Much to the delight of foodies and chefs alike, whitebait season is hereee! And while you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ whitebait fritter from your local market, some of Auckland’s top chefs are dishing up the delicacy in creative new ways. From bao and burgers to soufflé and sandwiches, there’s no shortage of fishy dishes across the city. Market fritters aside, here’s where to get your fix in Auckland.
Euro don’t do whitebait season by halves! This year, they have not one, not two but THREE whitebait offerings. Go for a classic skillet-fried fritter drizzled with lemon butter sauce and chives. Or, if you’re after something a bit different, choose between their beignet soufflé with choux or croque madame (!) with fried duck egg and cured pig cheek. On ya, Euro!
If you love a) whitebait and b) bao buns, then nip into Ebisu to try their whitebait steamed bao. Packed with scrambled egg, spring onion and pickled red cabbage, this dish is not to be missed (the same can be said for their miso-glazed eggplant). One bao is never enough. Eat all the bao (and eggplant).
As the master of all things seafood, it’s no surprise Ostro is whipping up whitebait in exceptional style. Choose between their classic fritter with zingy kimchi mayonnaise or opt for their whitebait burger. Paired with lemon mayo and tempura pickles, this burger is quickly becoming a fave of ours.
If you’re a whitebait fritter purist, then you need get on down to The Culpeper. Proving that you can’t go wrong with a classic, the restaurant sandwiches their fritter between two pieces of fresh Tip Top bread. It’s served with caper aioli and a lemon wedge. It sounds pretty tip (top) to us!
The Oyster Inn
Jump on a ferry and make a beeline for Waiheke Island’s much-loved The Oyster Inn. They’re no stranger to whitebait and, much to our delight, it’s on their menu for another year. Their whitebait sammie is served with a dollop of citrus hollandaise. The best part? They make a point of sourcing sustainably farmed whitebait.
Should you find yourself at Cibo this whitebait season, be sure to get amongst their omelette. Sourcing whitebait from the South Island’s West Coast, this bad boy is fried to perfection and then generously drizzled with ginger soy butter. It’s paired with the all-important lemon wedge for good measure.
Every year Soul has a strong whitebait fritter game and this year is no different. The famous waterfront restaurant is all about the lemon butter and they’ve got it perfected. Pro tip: save room for dessert because their sweet treats are absolutely divine. We can’t go past their summer-esque rhubarb creation.
One Tree Grill
Epsom’s One Tree Grill is also on the whitebait train. They’re known across town as a whitebait go-to and this year is no different. Their entrée dish stars a fritter generously topped with whitebait, rye, lemon and crème fraiche. This restaurant is also worth sticking around for dessert.
Last and in no ways least, Swashbucklers are also coming to the whitebait fritter party in a glorious fashion. Forget the fritters that you find at markets, this beast of a fritter is absolutely huge. It’s paired with salad and a sprinkling of greens. Round up your posse and wine and waitbait the afternoon away overlooking the harbour.
If you love all things seafood, check out Auckland’s Best Seafood Restaurants.
Image credit: The Culpeper via Facebook