Cinta Malaysian Restaurant, Mt Albert, Auckland

I have driven past Cinta Malaysian Restaurant (454 Dominion Road, Mt Albert, Ph: 09 – 623 2808) many times (it’s on my way to work) but hadn’t found the time to drop by this well-regarded restaurant. Note that Cinta is no longer opened for lunch although the old signage has not been removed. A review request from Malaysia Kitchen was the perfect excuse to book a table for Sunday night.

Cinta’s décor is a nod to the different cultures in Malaysia, – I noted the Dayak Pua Kumbu woven runners and Melanau Terindak cone hats (Sarawak), other weaving and masks, unfortunately I am unfamiliar which regions these effects come from. I was really impressed that they took the effort to introduce other aspects of the Malaysian culture to the diners.

We started with Pandan Chicken ($8.00), deep-fried morsels of lightly seasoned chicken tied up with strips of pandan (screwpine) leaf, and Tofu Satay ($7.50), deep-fried cubes of tofu served with peanut sauce. I would have preferred the peanut sauce to be spicier.

Assam curry fish with okra ($28) is a memorable dish of deep-fried whole snapper served with an absolutely delectable tamarind-chilli gravy with tomato and okra. The interplay of the soft meat with the crunchy skin and thick spicy gravy works really well.

The boneless duck breast with spicy sauce ($22) came as thinly sliced pieces cooked in a sweet and sour chilli sauce with onions and dried chilli pieces.

We savoured the vegetarian yam basket ($22), a small deep-fried yam ring sitting on a crunchy bed of moreish deep-fried rice vermicelli and heaped with sautéed mixed vegetables and cashews. The rich texture of the yam complemented the freshness of the vegetables well.

What’s a Malaysian meal without a refreshing glass of teh tarik (hot or cold, $3.50) to wash it all down with?

To end the meal, we shared a cold dessert of sweetened red bean, cendol and gula Melaka ($5.50) and a warm dessert of sago and gula Melaka ($4.50). The red bean and cendol was too sweet for my liking, however, the sago dessert of sago pearls, warm coconut cream and the fragrant sweetness of the gula Melaka (palm sugar) makes for a fantastic end to the dinner.

Cinta is opened for dinner 5:30 – 10:30pm every night. Parking is readily available in the little alcove behind the restaurant, or on the nearby streets.

easyfoodhacks dined courtesy of the Malaysian Kitchen programme

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