Zap 4 Esan Thai

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3 reviews
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6 Commerce Street,
Auckland Central

(09) 379 5902

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byBrett Atkinson6/04/2008

3 out of 5 stars

The Zap name’s been around in Thai food circles in Auckland for a few years now. Initially situated in Food Alley, Auckland’s original – and still best – Asian food hall on Albert St, it’s now grown to include a cosy eatery on Dominion Rd in Balmoral, and this bustling spot on Commerce St.

You’ll easily find more sophisticated and quieter Thai restaurants around the CBD – see Grasshopper or Mai Thai for example – but they don’t really recreate that authentic energy of the time you were lost a few blocks beyond Khao San Rd, or when you were sharing a few Singhas with your new Facebook friends on the beach in Southern Thailand. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many Thai people eating at a Thai restaurant in Auckland.

Zap’s food hall roots are evident at Zap 4. You order at the counter and take a seat amidst the throng. A limited selection of beer and wine is available, but you’re really here for the food.

The colourful, but simple décor, hints at a neighbourhood Bangkok eatery and mysterious additional menus written in spidery, but elegant Thai script, hint there’s a few other dishes available. The English menu outlined in the colourful array of photos is just fine though, and covers all the different food regions of Thailand.

Especially good are Zap’s versions of Esan food from north-eastern Thailand. Keep on heading north across the Mekong River into Laos and the food is similarly robust.

Served with a bamboo pot of sticky rice I order the Neua Namtok or ‘waterfall beef’. Marinated and barbecued beef – look forward to water buffalo if you’ve just booked your flights to Bangkok – is served with ground rice, chilli, lemon juice, spring onion and coriander. Part salad, and part weapon of mass destruction – especially when you order it at a market in Thailand – a couple of cold Singha beers are the only sensible response.

Zap’s new location is never going to replace the sights, smells and sounds of Thailand, but for just a few bucks it’s probably the most authentic substitute you’ll find while you’re saving for your airfare.

And if you are headed to Koh Chang or Chiang Mai, do yourself a favour and do some Thai tastebud training before you leave.

Zap 4 Esan Thai has been reviewed by 3 users

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