It’s Restaurant Month ladies and gentlemen so let’s kick off our first review in Balmoral. Relatively new on the scene, Kiss Kiss provides Thai cuisine with a twist. I came to know of this place as my friend was looking for the perfect crispy poached egg to try replicate an experience he once had in Melbourne. We came across something pretty damn close, tucked away off Dominion Road one fateful morning.
Kiss Kiss was once a Drum Store, located under a drumming studio. I remember walking past it countless times after finding a park at the old Warehouse store on my way to eat on Dominion Road. The outside isn’t much to look at, still retaining the original pastel green colours but it’s casual vibe is quite inviting. You feel like it’s somewhere you can stop by anytime both dressed up or not. It’s also owned by the same people responsible for the popular Chinoiserie and L’Oeuf in Mt Albert so you know it will be a hit.
With what can only be described as a ‘picnic bench’ seating, you feel a bit like you’ve been taken back to school into an American cafeteria situation with an inexplicable jungle theme. For those who enjoy the hustle and bustle, it’s casual, shared dining at its best. The entire place is lit with neon pink lights and decorated with umbrellas and palm trees to give that late night Thai street feel to what is otherwise a cold, industrial style setting. We arrived at a busy time so shared a table with another couple down the end. I personally don’t find shared tables ideal because you’re always aware a stranger is in slightly too close proximity for intimate conversations, but I’ve come to realise with the numbers in Auckland, it’s going to be an inevitable progression with new restaurants.
Service was great, we were shown our seats quickly and served our food in a timely fashion. The waiter was friendly and had good timing when it came to checking on our food, water levels and clearing our plates.
Since it was the morning, I started off with my ritual coffee. I saw a few people walk out with takeaway cups so this seems to be a common drop in for its Balmoral inhabitants. Makes sense as Dominion Road and Co is basically an untapped market in terms of good coffee but this may very well change.
The morning menu is stocked with classic brunch staples, but cleverly adapts it’s ingredients to show off it’s Thai roots. I struggled choosing between the ‘Rum and Orange Brioche French Toast served with Fresh Banana and a Coconut Dulce de Leche’ ($16.90) and ‘Glass Noodle and Satay Salad with Carrot, Cucumber and Fried Tofu’ ($18.50).
In the end I settled on ‘Burmese Style Pork Belly Curried Baked Beans, served with a Son in Law Egg and Toasted Sourdough’ ($19.90). Mainly drawn by my love of baked beans, I was also curious to know what kind of egg a son in law was. The best story I could find was this: “A mother-in-law will cook this for her son-in-law if she thinks he is being unkind to her daughter. It will remind him that his family jewels could end up fried on a plate if he doesn’t clean up his act’. I’ll let you ponder on that statement.
The pork belly ‘stew’ was jam packed full of flavour and worked perfectly with the bread. There were lots of lean meaty bits and soft beans for texture and the son in law egg was a boiled egg with a runny centre that was fried to give a slightly crunchy layer. While it doesn’t look like much in size, this bowl was extremely filling.
As all good eating companions do, we shared our dishes to get a more complete experience. My friend got the ‘Free Range Chicken and Kaffir Lime Scotched Egg, Pickled Red Cabbage, Spiced Pumpkin Puree and Coriander Pesto served on Sourdough’ ($19).
I had massive food envy when this came out and I believe it was pretty close to being the perfect dish, except to me I felt the pumpkin puree missed the mark. It was quite sweet and tasted like it had been made with cream (I’m not entirely sure) which felt out of place on the plate with all the savoury components. The scotch egg however was the star of the show, perfectly gooey in the middle with amazing flavour and crunch. The coriander pesto was delicious too and is such an inspired idea!
We shared a Northern Thai Sausage ($6), which was filling but not quite as flavourful as I was expecting, still definitely worth a try. I will be coming here again for dinner though. The menu is more up my alley with noodle, rice, soup and salad dishes.
Kiss Kiss is fully licensed and the drinks list is available both day and night. Their drinks menu is a lot of fun to go through, displayed via an old school viewfinder which makes you feel like a kid again, even though you’re searching for alcohol.
Overall I would definitely go again, probably more for dinner than a brunch setting. Maybe I’m just not good at branching out when it comes to 11am meals? The menu adds a Thai twist to each dish, enhancing what you’d expect from your standard brunch experience. You can see why this place has become more and more popular since it’s opening a few months ago. If you enjoy the distinctive flavours of Thai fusion cuisine, this is a must try!
What: Kiss Kiss
Where: 1A Rocklands Avenue, Balmoral
Opening Hours: Tues-Friday 7AM-3PM, 5PM-10.30PM, Sat-Sun 8AM-3PM, 5PM-10.30PM, Closed on Mondays