COMMERcial bay restaurant review
Photographs by Chichi Nyangoni
BY ru nyangoni
May 1, 2022
THE PŌNI ROOM
Phone: (09) 869 7148 Address: Commercial Bay, 7/21 Queen St, downtown
Drinks: Fully licensed Reservations: Accepted
RATING: 4.5/5 – You need to try this!
Score: 0-1 Avoid at all costs. 2 I suffered, so you don’t have to. 3 Good enough for me. 4
You need to try this! 5 It’s Lit.
Located on level 1 in Commercial Bay, Pōni is an all-day Asian-inspired eatery managed by Chef David Lee. Astounding views of the Auckland Harbour and an ‘insta worthy’ interior create a high energy atmosphere which makes Pōni the perfect place to socialise and mingle throughout the day and into the late evening. The seafood centric menu is inspired by Japanese and South-East Asian cuisines and offers some of New Zealand’s freshest seafood, meat and produce. With high ratings on Google (4.3/5) and Trip Advisor (4/5) we had to see what the fuss was all about ourselves and let me tell you, Pōni did not disappoint.
The first thing you notice when you enter Pōni is the interior design and décor. The indoor trees mixed with the low hanging lights and neutral-coloured fabrics that hang off the wall create a unique yet comfortable environment for its diners. The second thing you will notice is the beautiful view of the Auckland harbour on Quay Street waterfront. When we arrived were greeted by friendly and professional staff who were completely attentive throughout our experience. The third thing you will notice is that it is busy. This place gets really full, so I highly suggest making a reservation if you plan on visiting.
We started with cocktails; the Yuzu Daiquiri was sweet yet bitter, you could definitely taste the liquor which is how I like it. The Pōni Sour was a beautiful vibrant red and the egg-white foam reminded me of the taste of pink smokers lollies. The espresso Martini was classic and made perfectly. Not to sweet and went down smooth.
To begin with we ordered the Popcorn Shrimp, Wagyu Fat Potato Skins and Hawkes Bay Lamb ribs. The Popcorn Shrimp were sweet, spicy and juicy pieces of lightly battered shrimp and were paired with a creamy nori-sriracha-mayo sauce. This was probably my favourite meal of the evening.
The Wagyu Fat Potato Skins were more like wedges which isn’t necessary a bad thing, but they could have done with more salt. The Hawkes Bay Lamb ribs were covered in a sticky xiaoxing sauce and served with pickled daikon. The meat was tender and fell off the bone however there definitely wasn’t enough of it and I found myself wanting more.
For our main meal we decided on the Cambridge Duck Duo. The dish is a twice cooked duck thigh and breast that is served with a cherry hoisin compote and pickled daikon. We added on steamed bao buns and were told to use the duck breast for the filling and eat the thigh as is. The thigh was tender and basically melted in your mouth, where as the duck breast was meatier and paired beautifully with the bao buns. This meal was fairly large and definitely worth it!
Finally for our dessert we decided to get everything on offer which was the Yuzu Mousse, Miso White Chocolate Fondant and the Soft Serve Ice Cream. The Yuzu Mousse was thick and creamy and was beautifully served with cookie crumb and dried raspberries. The Miso White Chocolate Fondant was my favourite dessert of the night. The pudding of the fondant was moist, and the centre oozed out as I went for my first spoonful.
This was accompanied with seaweed caramel and a seasonal berries compote. I literally couldn’t fault this dessert and I will be going back for more. Finally, we had the Soft Serve Ice cream. They usually change the flavours available, and, on this day, it was Matcha. This was beautifully presented with a contrasting pink waffle cone, pistachio nuts and dried raspberry. The Matcha flavouring was strong and not too sweet which is just the way I like it.
Overall, our experience at Pōni was definitely a good one! For the quality of the meals and the drinks I would say it is fairly priced and they did not disappoint. The staff are friendly and regularly checked in with us to see if we needed anything else. I highly recommend checking out this place out.
From the menu:
Popcorn Shrimp ($16)
Wagyu Fat Potato Skin ($12),
Hawkes Bay Lamb Rib ($25),
Cambridge Duck Duo ($46),
Desserts: Yuzu Mousse ($14),
Miso White Chocolate Fondant ($14),
Soft Serve Ice Cream ($9),
Yuzu Daiquiri ($18),
Pōni Sour ($19),
Espresso Martini ($18)