The eastern suburbs of Auckland (Botany, East Tamaki, Sommerville end of Howick, Flat Bush), has been a drawcard for Asian restaurants, and in particular, Cantonese (or Cantonese-style) food places.
The mark of a great Cantonese eatery must be its shao ya (roast duck), which there are at least half a dozen place to get your shao ya hit in Botany; such as Full Yao, Taiping Supermarket, BBQ Duck Palace, Kings House and Tasty Zone. Good Well BBQ Restaurant is the latest addition to this very illustrious list.
Good Well has only been opened for several weeks, and it’s clear their roast meats is already known to the locals with the stream of people coming in and leaving with takeaway containers. The roast or soy duck is $26 for a whole duck or $15 for half, there is also char siu, roast pork and soy chicken.
This place is family-run; evident by the young children at a central table, and one of the staff had a baby on her hip as she checked on tables. I hope this was an unusual circumstance, but certainly lent itself to a casual, family atmosphere where if your little ones run a bit wild, no one, especially not the staff, are going to mind. The staff are friendly, courteous and service is quick and efficient.
We came for a family dinner with 5 adults and 2 children on a Saturday evening where no one was keen to cook and we wanted somewhere close-by (not for me, but this is basically down the road for Lil Bro) and unfussy.
The extensive menu is similar to that of Tasty Zone. There is also a separate noodle and rice lunch menu ($7.50 – 12). The menu covers classics such as meats cooked in black bean sauce, spicy sauce and casseroles. There are also Thai and Malaysian flavours, and I was impressed to see a range of crab dishes. As with Cantonese tradition, complementary soup is provided to start the meal. The pork and preserved mustard greens soup was delicious; good flavours with the slight bite of the preserved greens.
We ordered the two course peking duck ($48, but as an opening special, it was a remarkable $35). This was served very quickly. The cucumber and spring onions were slightly dehydrated from sitting in the fridge unfortunately. The duck was flavoursome, though the glossy skin could have been crisper. The pancakes were nice, soft and tasted fresh, but came in plastic wrap after being reheated in the microwave. Though I subscribe to current FDA opinion is that this is acceptable (the issue is more about plastic melting than plasticides migration), the presentation was too indifferent. For the second course, he rest of the duck was served, cut into pieces and drizzled with plum sauce. Overall, this was delicious, and I doubt you’d find better peking duck for the price anywhere in NZ.
The crispy prawn balls cooked with egg yolk ($28) was excellent; succulent prawn paste with savoury egg yolk and crunchy puffed rice vermicelli coating.
The garlic sautéed gai lan ($18) was fresh and crunchy. This came in such a heaped portion, it assuaged the rest of our protein-laded meal. Di was perturbed that Good Well serve long grain rice instead of the more fragrant jasmine rice, but this didn’t bother the rest of us. Obviously, my rice radar is not as well developed.
I am a fiend for tofu. Oddly, I never cook fresh tofu at home, but I always order a tofu dish in a Chinese restaurant. We ordered the mysteriously named special secret tofu ($20). This was my favourite dish of the evening. Soft egg tofu coated (which included small pieces of seaweed) and deep fried so it has a crisp ‘skin’ and a custardy centre. This was served over pak choy in a savoury gravy and topped with mushrooms.
To finish, we were served a complimentary dessert of mandarin peel-flavoured sweet mung bean soup. It is traditional for Cantonese restaurants to serve ‘tong sui‘ (literally, sugar water, – a sweet soup) to end the meal.
Good Well BBQ Restaurant is exceptional value. It is not the place if you want to impress anyone, but for a family meal, or a get-together among friends, you can be assured of good Cantonese food in a friendly environment.
Good Well BBQ Restaurant
309 Botany Road, Auckland
Ph: 09 – 272 3985
Open 7 days: Lunch 11am – 2pm, Dinner 6 – 10pm