8848 Restaurant & Bar in Takapuna is a lesson in trying something new, the Nepalese fusion restaurant has a vast menu of both traditional Indian dishes and Nepalese specialties, the later being a cuisine that most of our group were not familiar with but eager to try. It turned out that our unfamiliarity with Nepalese food didn’t matter at all, it was delicious and we’ll be back ASAP.
Everything about 8848 centres on the Himalayan region... from the restaurant logo and name, the spices they use and the way they cook their food. We had a chat to the owner, Dil Barala, who explained how Nepalese spices differ from traditional Indian spices. The dryness of them helps warm the body and acclimatise to Himalayan conditions and he believes the spices are what makes mountain climbers fit and strong. The number 8848 (the restaurant’s name) is the height of Mt Everest in metres, located in the eastern part of Nepal. 8848 Restaurant is inspired by Himalayan spices blended and crafted in house by their chefs with 20 plus years of experience. The dry spices give incredible unique flavours and that was definitely reflected in the dishes we tried.
We visited on a Monday night (it’s open seven days a week, more details below) with a group of six adults and a baby, it was a lovely atmosphere and the team were extremely welcoming. While there we saw a number of takeaways being picked up and a range of other groups dining in also. We had a range of dishes, to start we tried Panipuri which consists of a round or ball-shaped, hollow puri (a deep-fried crisp flatbread), filled with super flavoursome liquid. There were two flavour choices for the Panipuri, the green was more herby and savoury and the red one was sweet. There were eight on the plate (four of each flavour) so it was perfect for a group and a true taste explosion in our mouths. We also enjoyed a couple more familiar Indian dishes including onion bhaji (made with chickpea batter and served with tamarind sauce) and a poppadum dip platter (with flavoursome chutneys and raita), these were outstanding especially because we’d had them lots elsewhere. My husband Dave, who's travelled through India and sampled a lot of the food, said the onion bhaji was better than anything he’d had before and my Dad loved the poppadoms with the dips.
For our mains, we shared a range of curries and naan, Dave who loves goat got the goat curry (slow cooked and full of flavour with onion tomato spices), we also ordered a chicken with bone in curry (very flavoursome), a Dal Tadka curry (lentils tempered with spices and herbs) and a paneer tikka masala (pieces of paneer cheese cooked with garlic, creamy tomato, fresh capsicum and onion sauce). All the curries were delicious, we ordered medium spice and it was a decent amount of ‘kick' without being too hot. I particularly loved the paneer tikka curry and had seconds of that along with the naan, a paneer curry is not something I would usually order so again it was a lesson in changing it up and realising that trying a new dish pays off! I am a self appointed naan connoisseur and the naan at 8848 Restaurant was really garlicky and herby (in a good way, just how I like it!) and the rice was a very generous serving and they said we could ask for more if we needed it. The plates came out of the kitchen warmed up ahead of the food which was a small but welcome detail for a few people in our group who love warm plates.
The drinks menu was extensive, they had an impressive list of wines and a lot of options by the glass which suited our group, one of us had a chardonnay, one a rose and one a pinot noir. They serve the traditional Kingfisher beer (on tap) which paired well with the food and had a great selection of non alcoholic options too including kombucha, soft drinks and juices.
On reflection, 8848 was some of the best Indian fusion food I’ve had in a long time and a really nice introduction to Nepalese cuisine. I'll be going back there to dine in and also on the nights I want takeaways. The restaurant also specialises in catering for a large group booking and functions. Parking is easy as well with the new 420 space Toka Puia carpark only metres away.
8848 Restaurant & Bar, 17 Huron Street, Takapuna (just opposite the fantastic new carpark!)
OPEN Monday to Sunday 10am - 10:30pm
09 489 9911 www.8848indiancuisine.co.nz