One of my favourite things to do while road tripping in New Zealand, is taking a break from Auckland cafes and restaurants and trying different eateries in smaller towns and cities. My first destination during our recent road trip was Whangarei where my friend and I lunched at Tahuna Reef. For our second destination, we ventured to Tutukaka to complete our PADI scuba diving course.
We managed to purchase a voucher via graboneescapes where for $295, we had two nights accommodation, dinner (mains only) and breakfast for both days for two people at Oceans Resort Hotel. A great value deal and the dinner was served at their in-house eatery, Oceans Restaurant. I have to admit, I did not have high expectations because I don’t associate resorts with great food, but in this case, Oceans proved me wrong and the food was exceptional.
For our first night, we both ordered a heavier main. The fish of the day was a seared snapper which was moist and cooked perfectly. It was accompanied with a prawn and avocado salad and fried polenta chips. The components of the salad complemented each other and it was light and refreshing. The angus eye fillet served with onion tempura, pomme dauphinoise and prawn remoulade was unexpectedly good. Usually, I find in smaller restaurants, the steak is a hit or miss. You run the risk of the meat being over-cooked, bland or dry. But this steak was amazing. My order of medium-rare was served medium-rare and the pomme dauphinoise (layered potatoes with cream and cheese) was rich and creamy. The onion tempura was nice and crispy – a great contrast to the succulent steak.
For the second night, as we had snacked before dinner, we opted for something lighter. The ika mata – a Rarotongan raw fish salad with lemon juice and coconut – served with toasted bread was flavourful and the coconut was not over-powering. The home-made spinach and ricotta gnocchi served with a chunky mushroom sauce was quite different from regular gnocchi, in terms of texture. The absence of potato made this spinach and ricotta variation much softer and less powdery. The sauce was bursting with mushroom flavours and we were glad that it was not a cream-based sauce, or else it would have made the dish too rich.
We thoroughly enjoyed both our meals at Oceans Restaurant. We did not anticipate that the food would be of such high standards! The service from the staff should be praised as they were friendly and detailed. Our water was constantly topped up and we were not pressured to order other entrees and desserts. So the next time you stop by Tutukaka, I highly recommend dining at Oceans Restaurant.
Date: Saturday/Sunday 21st/22nd April, 2012 | Location: 11 Marina Road, Tutukaka | Food: NZ Cuisine