Adding NZ Tang to Chinese taste

NZ Tang is the latest addition to Takapuna’s already rich restaurant scene, and makes a bold blue statement on the restaurant strip at the northern end of Hurstmere Road near the Bruce Mason Centre. Channel's Christine Young met owner Derek Ng to explore what’s behind that bright façade...

When Derek arrived in New Zealand from Hong Kong a year ago he spent months looking for restaurant premises that met his exacting criteria with regard to location, ambience and size. Takapuna stood out because of the variety of restaurants already in the area – he’d previously operated restaurants in Hong Kong’s popular Lan Kwai Fong area with its plethora of bars and restaurants and vibrant multi-cultural night life. The location in Takapuna had the added allure of being large enough to cater for groups and functions, but small enough to provide intimate and private dining experiences for a range of customers.

While the exterior was repainted in the hard-to-miss blue, the interior was revamped to offer dining spaces that range from standard tables, circular booths and a balcony upstairs, to raised booths and high tables in the downstairs space.

Derek took over the premises earlier this year, and aims to make a statement not just with the new décor inside and out, but also with a menu that is predominantly Chinese but with a strong international flavour. NZ Tang’s style, from the easy-to-follow menu right through to the wide selection of dishes to appeal to every taste, reflects Derek’s long experience running restaurants – including in international airports around the Asia-Pacific region.

The user-friendly menu highlights the chef’s recommendations: mains of salt and pepper lamb rack (more Western than Chinese, though the inclusion of Sichuan pepper adds a frisson of Asian taste), Songshu Yu (Asian style de-boned snapper with a capsicum and tomato salsa, pinenuts and a sweet and sour sauce) or Suijing Xiaqui (prawn cutlets, snow peas, celery, ginger and spring onions, served in a basket of deep-fried noodles). And those are just the mains. Side plates, rice and noodle dishes, cold plates, snacks and the dumplings and soup sections all similarly balance Chinese and Western influences and tastes.

Executive chef Jason Zhang presents all dishes with an attention to detail that borders on the fastidious; he’s a perfectionist and has been known, says Derek, to take the elegantly presented fried rice dishes off the menu for an evening if the right garnishes are not available.

Jason trained in China. He has 30 years’ experience as a chef, and has spent the last 12 years in New Zealand. He’s adept at all styles of Chinese cuisine, and under Derek’s urging, at NZ Tang he has also mastered Western dishes like fish and chips, beef burger and grilled sirloin steak.

While the á la carte menu is extensive enough to satisfy most diners, at NZ Tang you can also opt for a set multi-course menu, starting from $198 for four. If you really want to impress guests, friends or business associates, book (for at least eight people) a week ahead for a private dining experience. The twist here is that the customer determines what they’d like to pay, lets the chef know if there are any ingredients that are not to be included – and then trusts to the chef and his skill to create a special menu.

Or if you’re simply wanting sustenance and a night in, NZ Tang does takeaways; call in or use Uber Eats.

“NZ Tang is a Chinese restaurant that serves food in a Western way,” says Derek; casual, with a subtle blend of Chinese icons adding class to the décor. “We use the freshest ingredients to create authentic recipes made by experienced chefs. We aim to offer superior customer service, innovative menus, and cutting-edge restaurant design and ambiance.”

NZ Tang Bar & Restaurant, 152 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna

09 930 0999

Open seven days, 11.30-3pm; 5-10pm

By: Christine Young

Issue 98 May 2019