Until recently, Filipino cuisine isn’t something you heard a lot about in Auckland—boy, we’ve been missing out! Things have changed for the better with the arrival of Parnell newcomer Azon. The stunning Filipino restaurant is shaking up Auckland’s food scene and bringing some much-needed deliciousness to the city.
You’ll be in talented—and famous—hands with MasterChef finalist Leo Fernandez at the helm of Azon. During the 2015 show, Leo wowed viewers and judges alike with his traditional cooking—and now you can experience his talent first-hand.
Evolving over many centuries, Filipino cuisine takes inspo from a handful of cultures. To put it simply, it’s takes the best bits and creates a hybrid that mixes everything from Spanish and Malaysian to American and Chinese. One thing’s for certain: this cuisine is jam-packed with flavour.
Sitting pretty on a corner in the heart of Parnell, Azon is an interior design dream. The Spanish influence is particularly evident with a geometric-tiled flooring, grand chandeliers and plush armchairs. There’s seating for every occasion: cosy booths, long table settings and intimate tables for two. Once the sun goes down, house music plays softly and the dimly-lit restaurant radiates romantic vibes.
Azon will take you on a culinary journey and introduce you to dishes you’ve never heard of—let alone tried. The dishes are designed to be shared, as they typically are in South-East Asia. Start with patikim (translation: entrees) with everything from barbeque pork skewers and vege spring rolls to roasted eggplant and deep-fried soft-shelled crab.
Our pick is the ‘chilli dynamite roulette’ starring deep-fried smoked salmon and cream cheese and a whooole lot of chilli. If the name didn’t give it away, this dish is HOT (but very delish!)—proceed with caution.
The mains are separated into two sections: from the sea and from the land. Choose between stuffed calamari served with coconut curry sauce or beef brisket paired with flavours of coconut, turmeric and lemongrass. We can’t go past the hearty kulmang karnero lamb shank adorned with crispy taro—it’s the perfect comfort food on chilly winter nights!
But trust us when we say: Azon’s lechon kawali is not to be missed! Lechon what? The signature main features a mountain (seriously, this dish is huge) of rich pork belly. Leo cooks this dish twice to ensure the pork is oh-so crispy and oh-so tasty. It’s then served with two divine sauces: homemade liver pâté sauce and spiced soy sauce.
Things are equally interesting (and delicious) on the dessert menu. There are custard-filled meringue rolls and a not-too-sweet cacao chocolate cake boasting a divine smoky after-taste. The creamy ube halaya flan stars a layer of purple yam jam and is served with vibrant green pandan ice-cream. Our advice? No visit is complete without dessert!
Azon brings The Philippines to Auckland in exceptional style. The friendly service, stunning décor and flavoursome food are all equally incredible. Thanks to Azon, we’ve got a new favourite cuisine!
Image credit: Kellie Blizard