Some Good and Some Not So Good by guest author bojan131

There is a a place called Selera at 487 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, Auckland 1023, New Zealand. This is a Malaysian saloon right the centre of Newmarket. I think our buzz with Malaysian cuisine made us want to try different places just for us to enjoy more of it. And this place looked busy, which seemed like a good sign.

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You get into Selera and it is rushed like anything. Sometimes you got to wonder if places only appear to be busy because of their size rather than popularity. Probably a bit of both with this place so I’ll try not to give you any preconceptions about the food before we review it. Very hard working waiter took our orders and explained some of the dishes quite well. We saw they had something called “Mas Sauce” and wondered if it had anything to do with Malaysian Airlines. It could have but the guy who came up with it went missing I heard.

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We settled for King Prawns with Sambal (shells off), Acar Awak (which is like a mango pickle), a Cabbage Chicken Salad and a Chicken Rice (as opposed to your usual standard white rice). All of that came down to NZ$41 or US$30.60. I just noticed on the photo that they did Carrot Cake and I’m loathing not ordering it. That dish should be a reason alone to go back to Singapore. I’ll even risk chewing gum, urinating in an elevator and jay walking to get it.

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The place is quite chaotic. We had a cup of chopsticks on our table and one of the waitresses kept on putting her arm between us to get them. Holding short of the excuse me or thinking about whether there’d be enough for us. Well, you don’t go to the place for the service if the water and tea is self service.

Then out comes the food, first we had our Chicken Salad arrive. This was actually quite nice. Tomatoes were fresh and the sesame seeds offered a great counter balance to the chicken and the cucumbers. OK, I’m really talking out of my ass and what I really mean is that the dish was very tasty and, take note Hollywood, low on calories.

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Next was the Acar Awak. Now if you’re not a fan of mangoes then you’d probably dislike this dish. About 85% of the flavor came from the mangoes and I was sold. It was like a fresher equivalent of those Mango pickles you get from a suburban Indian restaurant and a lot less sweet. Nice touch with nuts sprinkled on top, too. Now if these were the only two dishes we had, we would have thought that we had a pretty good experience.

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The King Prawns with Sambal, well, now we’re cooking with gas. Arrived on the table and it looked pretty tasty. Take the first bite, assuming the shells were removed, and you bite straight into the shell. My one backfired a little more than Casey’s because I inadvertently went for the head first so I got a good dosage of prawn guts. Delicious. So, f*** up no. 1: shells were not removed. The next thing was that the dish was way too sweet, almost to the point that it was designed for those not used to Malaysian cuisine. Picture the setting in the kitchen…

Waitress: And the Europeans ordered the King Prawns with Sambal. Shells off.

Chef: Hear that boys? Europeans. Alright, back up the pick up truck. I’m going to need a kilogram of sugar and a few liters of oil. And I think she said to keep the shells on. That’s right, I’m gonna need the shells on.

I know that there are a lot of restaurants in New Zealand that try to ‘Kiwify’ their otherwise traditional dishes by adding sugar and oil. This is slowly changing as more New Zealanders are going overseas and getting a flavor for the real deal. But it exists and I’m here to bring some awareness to the issue.

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Well, rather than leaving it on a sour note (pardon the pun), I didn’t mention that chicken rice we ordered. This was just a standard white rice with chicken broth poured over it, giving it a unique flavor. Well, its just the kind of rice you get with Hainanese Chicken Rice but its worth going for this one over the white rice.

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Well, it was definitely a mixed bag. Impressive salad, pickle and rice but a let down with the prawns. You’ve definitely got to look at the positive side to everything though. The prawns at least provided the foundation for some crude kitchen humor about Europeans eating at an Asian restaurant. And besides, who said we wouldn’t give them a second chance? Selera does Carrot Cake…

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Bojan 131

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Great review! Really interesting. Never been to New Zealand.

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  2. Reblogged this on normanjkennedy.

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