Saturday 12 June 2010

Review: Jafa, Grey Lynn, Auckland.

The NZ Herald gave Jafa a rave review recently, so when the girls decided to have brunch on the Saturday of the Queen's Birthday weekend, we picked Jafa for a girly catch up.

The place was absolutely packed, understandable being a long weekend and all.  We sat down at one of the outside tables and glasses of water and menus were quickly put before us and we were given plenty of time to peruse the menu.

Unfortunately, a little too much time.  The staff were really friendly and helpful but there were some big delays.  Having worked in hospo in my high school days I totally understand how hectic things get at a cafe and when it gets crazy, inevitably some tables fall through the cracks.  Unfortunately, our table was one of the unlucky ones on the day.

We waited for over half an hour before we had to find a staff member to take our coffee orders.  We also asked to move inside at that point since the weather was packing up.  They were really good about getting us an inside table but the position change must have seemed to have upset the system as our coffees took another 20 minutes to arrive.  Our coffees were all polished off by the time someone took our food orders and the food took another 45 minutes to get to us.  Luckily, the four of us girls could chat for hours so had plenty of gas-bagging to do to keep us occupied, however other patrons who have had similar experiences were not as happy about the wait.

When choosing our meals, all of us gravitated towards the Balinese sticky rice because of the exotic factor and because the Herald reviewer had said that it was the highlight of their meal.  In the end, K1 ordered the french toast with bacon (K1 is a french toast fanatic), K2 had the eggs benedict, and A and I couldn't help but order the sticky rice.

K1's french toast was a tower of brioche, banana and bacon.  K1 declared that it was very substantial and the banana particularly delicious.  Pretty high praise from a french toast connoisseur.

The eggs bene with bacon, came on two little english muffins and K2 was also perfectly happy with her brekkie.

The Balinese sticky rice was visually very striking, all black and purple and gooey in a white bowl and plenty of fresh fruit on the side.  The citrusy syrup over the fruit was summery and tart and the chunks of banana in the sticky rice were a pleasant surprise.  But we had high expectations for the dish and though it was good, neither A nor I could rave about it (and those of you who know us, know we tend towards being gushingly positive).  The portion size was on the small side, not enough to be filling for a breakfast meal and the pudding itself was too sweet and clearly had no salt added.

I know, the salt thing is a weird and nit-picky thing to fuss over and I am a bit of a purist when it comes to Asian food, but I just think that some Asian dishes, ok most Asian dishes, taste better when they are made authentically.  Now bubur ketan hitam, or Indonesian black rice pudding, is made in a similar way to Thai sticky rice, with black glutinous rice, coconut milk, palm sugar and salt.  The salt gives the dish it's characteristic salty and sweet flavour that was missing in the Jafa version of the pudding.  It would have given the dish an X-factor and cut through the sweetness of the pudding.

Major kudos points however for the massive jar of Jaffas on the counter.  We took a few pottle-fuls away with us for the road.

All in all, I'm glad we tried Jafa.  They had some timing issues but the coffee was good and the food was pretty good.  A decent performance.

Rating: 3/5

At a glance

551 Richmond Rd
Grey Lynn
(09) 361 1100

Service: Friendly and helpful but slow for coffees and food to arrive.

Food: Pretty good, would recommend the french toast.

Coffee: Good.

Seating: Nice outside if sunny, comfy inside also.

Prices (NZD):
Flat white $3.80
Cappuccino $3.50
Latte $4.20
Balinese sticky rice $13.00

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