14 Ponsonby Road,
(09) 378 4478
The ViewAuckland Review
3 out of 5 stars
Ponsonby Road is long and trendy. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights it’s where many Aucklanders go for a drink and bite to eat, or both. Dotted right along the ever changing street scene between the retail stores and residential properties are many well known eating and drinking destinations that have stood the test of time - places such as Rocco, Prego and Sawadee.
Then, a few years ago Navas Cafe opened its doors at the K’ Rd end of Ponsonby Rd as a traditional and authentic Malaysian restaurant. It is family owned and operated, which is one of the first things I noticed when I arrived for a meal with my partner on a Friday night.
There was mum at the door to greet us, dad in the open kitchen cooking and two primary school aged sons doing homework behind the counter and bar.
Navas Cafe has been described as Ponsonby Road’s hidden gem and I found it hard to disagree.
Inside it’s a quaint little place, with rustic exposed brick along one wall strategically covered in delicate wall tapestries and pictures. The other wall is soft in colour and feature lights create a relaxed ambience.
There’s room for about 50 eat-in patrons, but the cafe offers take-away service so those with less time can enjoy the food on the run or in the comfort of their own nearby studio apartment.
I point out the daisy’s are real, which is a nice touch that many similar striving restaurants could pick up on, but my favourite thing about this restaurant is the smell. Food always smells enticing when you are hungry, but these guys went one step further burning incense near the door which gently wafts’ over and greets you when you enter.
There’s only one other family sitting down to a meal, so our orders are taken quickly. Navas Cafe offers BYO wine with a $4 corkage fee, or there’s a small wine, beer and soft drink selection on offer.
The menu is detailed but not overwhelming as you come to expect at some Asian influenced restaurants. Dishes include vegetarian samosas for entree ($10), butter chicken ($17), beef and black bean ($16) and vegetable dhall curry ($16) us westerns have come accustomed too, but there’s also more traditional options.
I love a good chicken kurma and it comes recommended so I go for that ($17) while my partner chooses nasi goreng ($17).
I duck out to the toilet, which requires me to head out the back door and past the kitchen, and come back to find our meals are almost ready. It doesn’t take long for us to devour the dishes, neither really wanting to share because both choices are full of flavour and thoroughly enjoyable.
And when we top everything off with a sweet sago pudding with coconut milk the chef knows he’d once again cooked a ‘top notch’ meal.
Navas Cafe has been reviewed by 2 users