I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so the opportunity to experience 11 different desserts over 4 restaurants in two days, was not something to turn down. Being placed amongst the bustling food precinct that is SKYCITY Auckland, you find yourself quite overwhelmed by the variety, sounds and smells. While staying the night in SKYCITY Grand Hotel, I had stunning views of the city, Auckland Harbour Bridge and of course the iconic Sky Tower. I called this my base as I prepared myself to get a taste of some of the best desserts SKYCITY Auckland has to offer.
The Sugar Club
Left: Niuean Honey Parfait. Top Right: Mandarin Sorbet. Bottom Right: Baked Pineapple.
The Sugar Club saw us making our way up to level 53 of the Sky Tower, a restaurant founded by Peter Gordon overlooking the city of Auckland. With its fusion styled cuisine and 1930s Italian Art Deco decor of brass and stone, I could feel I was about to experience something special.
The waiters were incredibly helpful and also very knowledgeable with their recommendations of which wines and beverages would suit our desserts perfectly. We decided on the suggestions of a Mojito and an Apple & Elderflower Peggy (lemongrass vodka, st germain, apple syrup, lemon). These cocktails complemented the dessert perfectly, all while enjoying the stunning views of the city below. First dessert of the sitting was the Niuean Honey Parfait (passion fruit, coconut tapioca, mango lemongrass sorbet, niuean vanilla). Everything about this dish was perfect, the coconut tapioca delicious, the sorbet punchy and the generous serving of smooth vanilla was incredibly morish. Next was the Mandarin Sorbet (lemon soup, candied grapefruit, kawakawa foam, wattle seed meringue) which had a nice citrus bite. The sorbet was refreshing and the meringue crisp with a light wattle seed spice. Spoonfuls of lemon soup found interesting textures in the foam and candied grapefruit and overall left you with a curious zing for more. To finish up we tried one of the newest additions to the dessert menu, the Baked Pineapple (black sesame sponge, guava, palm sugar ice cream). The black sesame sponge gave the plate a unique contrast with its texture, colour and flavour. The guava had a hint of chilli which was offset by the palm sugar ice cream and sweetened by the strong flavours of baked pineapple.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at The Sugar Club and would definitely return again, especially for that Niuean Honey Parfait.
Left: Black Doris Plum. Top Right: Jelly Tip Bar. Bottom Right: South Island Granny Smith.
Dining at Orbit is a completely unique experience. Situated on level 52 of the Sky Tower, the dining room rotates once every hour, allowing you to experience amazing 360 degree panoramas of the city, Hauraki Gulf and beyond.
I had a feeling of being at home when I entered Orbit, whether it was the sense of genuine kiwi hospitality or the fact that I fell in love with the dark wooden features and spacious rotating dining room. To start off the dessert tour at Orbit we were treated to the dessert called Black Doris Plum (Chocolate sphere of doris plum cream, Marlborough salt chocolate crumb). Once you cracked through the chocolate spheres, the Doris plum cream was smooth and delicious and well balanced by the a sharp plum filling. The Jelly Tip bar (Raspberry jelly, vanilla cream, chocolate mousse) was another smooth and silky dessert. The raspberry jelly wasn’t sweet and overpowering, the vanilla cream was perfect and the chocolate mousse had a lovely strong chocolate flavour. The presentation was simple yet beautiful and had me wondering how I too could make perfect cubed desserts like this. It was hard to choose a favourite dessert, but I’d have to recommend the South Island Granny Smith (Compote of granny smith apple, feijoa ice cream, pecan crumble). It was the presentation that grabbed my curiosity initially as the dessert looked like a real life-sized Granny Smith Apple. Upon cracking through the crisp green outer layer, I found a silky apple cream and a Granny Smith Apple compote centre.
To accompany dessert I wasn’t sure what drink to order, so I was open to trying something new. When I saw there was a cocktail with the number 360 in it, it only made sense to order it while dining at Orbit 360. So I went with the 360 Negroni (Rogue Society gin, Cinnabon Rosso, Aperol, Peychauds bitters) with its citrus/bitters hit.
The rotating dining room was a unique experience and was really a great way to see the city and changing weather as you dined. I’d love to return and indulge myself in another serving of their South Island Granny Smith dessert too!
Left: Jasmine Mousse. Top Left: Rose Syrup Financier. Bottom Right: Chinese Herb Jelly.
Huami showcases beautiful dishes from regional provinces across China including Canton, Sichuan, Huaiyang and Beijing with a modern twist. So I was really looking forward to discovering some unique and traditional desserts developed by Executive Chef Jeff Tan in collaboration with Kiwi chef Nic Watt.
The waiters were all incredibly friendly and accommodating and we were also given amazing recommendations when it come to pairing a glass of wine with our desserts, which completed the dishes perfectly. I’d highly recommend a glass of Moscato (Prunotto Moscato d’Asti 2016, Piedmont, Italy) with dessert. Each one of these desserts had a visual wow factor and were like edible artworks. We started with the Jasmine Mousse (with milk chocolate ganache, buckwheat mandarin ice cream) which looked like an exotic coral reef. The jasmine mousse was delicious with the chocolate base and the ice cream was refreshing, along with the fresh and freeze dried mandarin pieces. Another dessert was the Rose Syrup Financier (with strawberries, lychee granita) which had the most delicious fresh strawberries hidden inside. This was then surrounded by a semi-frozen lychee granita which reminds me of some of my favourite drinks – more please! We finished with trying a more traditional dessert, which was a Chinese Herb Jelly with Manuka Honey. The deep coloured jelly was quite savoury with the subtle flavour of Chinese herbs, which was then contrasted by the sweet Manuka Honey which was drizzled over top. The lychees added sweetness, and the grain gave a mouthful of texture.
The Chinese inspired patterns and lattice interior details were absolutely beautiful, just like the desserts themselves. I’d definitely enjoy returning to Huami for another taste.
Top: MASU Dessert Platter. Directly Above: Apple Blossom Tofu.
MASU is a contemporary Japanese Robata bar with translates to ‘fireside cooking’. This was really reflected in the open and exposed kitchen where you can watch your meals being prepared right in front of you, for added theatre and drama. Celebrated chef Nic Watt brings a fine eye for detail and flavours in these dishes and can be shared with friends and family alike.
Greeted with a smile and an aerial ocean of hanging blossoms, I opted to try MASU’s famous Dessert Platter. This platter was set in stone, however MASU had such a vast assortment of other desserts on the menu, each evoking curiosity. When the Dessert Platter arrived on our table, it was huge! The helpful waiter shared details of each dessert component on the shared platter, before tapping a fine matcha dust over a chocolate fondant for added entertainment and colour. Amongst mango, coconut and pomegranate seed desserts, meringues and macarons, sorbet and ice cream carefully arranged on solid blocks of ice, these treats were surrounded by plenty of fresh fruit and berries. This platter could easily be shared 2-4 ways and would make for leisurely indulgence. If this wasn’t enough I decided to also sample another dessert off their menu, the Apple Blossom Tofu (with matcha macadamia crumbs, rhubarb infused apples, white sesame ice cream). I can admit I’ve never experienced a tofu served as a dessert, so I was pleasantly surprised with this dessert. Each element completed the dish and I couldn’t get enough of the white sesame ice cream and matcha macadamia crumb.
MASU’s presentation and bold unique flavour combinations really spoke for themselves and I’d truly like to return with friends to share another famous dessert platter, or a different dessert from their extensive menu.