Sunday, April 20, 2014

Live Fish Restaurant and Bar

Not to sound like a hipster, but my family frequented Live Fish Restaurant and Bar before it became posh and cool

As one of the only places in Auckland with a wide variety of fresh seafood, it was a favourite of my dad's -back in the days when it was a dingy place located out the back of the Auckland Fish Market. I must admit that I was a little saddened that Live Fish would no longer be the unassuming restaurant, with plastic outdoor furniture, that was always full of rowdy seafood lovers but I guess something this good would never stay a secret for long.

With the recent upgrade of North Wharf, Live Fish has moved up to join the new and more upmarket restaurants along Jellicoe St. The interior is super modern and has a most spectaclar view of the viaduct. The more formal dining area indicates we can no longer be as rowdy as we once were. It's menu remains much the same although the prices seem to have increased quite a bit to reflect its new location -much to the dismay of my parents!

Preserved Egg with Tofu - $12.00, Japanese Wakame Salad - $10.00
We started off with a Preserved Egg and Tofu Salad which had a great mix of different textures and a good balance of sweet and salty in the sauce. The Wakame Salad was pretty average and not really worth noting.

Crayfish Sashimi (POA)
The Crayfish Sashimi arrived on a icy plate with soy sauce and wasabi for dipping. I was first struck by how small the portion size was (surely you could get more meat off a crayfish?) but that was probably due to the size of the crayfish we picked. The meat was fresh, had a good bite to it and possessed a hint of freshness although I thought it could have been cooled a little bit more.

Crayfish Stir Fried with Ginger and Spring Onion and Noodles - extra $12.00
One thing I liked about the menu at Live Fish was that there were many ways to cook each item. In addition to sashimi, we were able to choose to fry our crayfish in a variety of sauces, steam it or have it in different soups! We went with the more traditional method of stir fry on a bed of noodles which soak up the yummy juices. We were left with the awkward shells and legs for this dish which are always fun to eat. Again I was surprised by the portion size but the carved vegetable decoration was a very nice way to fill up the empty part of our plate. 

Beef Stir Fry with Sweet Mushroom Sauce - $25.00
We found the beef to be quite chewy and flavourless despite the generous amount of mushroom sauce. I left this dish alone after my first bite.

Blue Cod, Plain Steamed and Served with Soy Sauce (POA)
As with the crayfish, we were able to choose how we wanted the fish to be served. We chose plain steamed as it seemed the only way to show case such fresh seafood  -deep frying would be such a crime and we would never even think of smothering it in a strong sauce. The Blue Cod was well cooked. The flesh easily came away from the bone without falling into little bits. However, I thought the dish could have done without the vermicelli as it overcooked and became a bit gluggy.

Stir Fried Beef with Seasonal Vegetables - $25.00
I found that this beef stir fry had the same issues as the one before it. The meat was tough and didn't really taste like much. I stuck to the vegetables with this dish which were actually quite well seasoned and well cooked.

Diamond Shells Stir Fried in Spicy Black Bean Sauce - $28.00
The Diamond Shell Clams were a favourite of mine and it was great to see that the Live Fish kitchen still remembers how to cook them well. The sauce had the perfect amount of heat and the clams were chewy without being rubbery. 

Stir Fried Eggplant with Stewed Salted Fish on Sizzling Plate - $28.00
The only criticism I had for this dish was that there wasn't enough. The fishy sauce had the perfect amount of spiciness to it and the sizzling plate gave the eggplants a nice char. The pieces of eggplant were very tender inside the papery thin crispy skins and I could have easily eaten double the portion size just on my own. 

Si Gua (Gourd) in Garlicky Salted Soup - $22.00
The lightly flavoured soup was a nice way to finish off our meal. The pieces of gourd were still firm and sauce was not overpowering (which can happen when you let Chinese people near garlic).

Fancy new menus
Although Live Fish Restaurant and Bar have moved from their humble starting place to a more upmarket location, they certainly haven't forgotten how to cook good seafood. Instead of dining in a small marquee by the Auckland Fish Market carpark, its patrons are now treated to stunning views of the viaduct. With the move, the portion sizes became a little smaller (and pricier) and the presentation became a little more delicate.

The one tip I can give to you, dear readers, from my most recent trip is to stay away from the beef. This is a seafood restaurant so order the seafood!

Live Fish Bar and Restaurant is located at 39-47 Jellicoe Street, North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland


  1. You are right, the wakame salad looks like the one you buy frozen in the supermarket or in all the sushi places. But a great reportage, even if I don't eat fish :-)

  2. The seafood looks good-a shame about the beef though. And my parents always notice is the portion sizes and quality has slipped in a place!

  3. while i've never liked seeing a whole dead fish on a plate, most of this looks and sounds so tasty! i like your review style!

    1. Haha "whole dead fish on a plate" is what I've come to expect! As my dad says -how else would you know you were eating fish?

  4. Dear Lucy,

    Just curious how much the crayfish would have cost as it's around $180 - $200 per kg here in Sydney. I always wonder if they re-use those elaborately carved vegetable as they seem like so much effort and I've never seen anyone attempt to eat it.

    1. I believe it was around the $180-$200 mark, Chopin, but it used to be something more like $120!

      I remember being chastised by a waitress once (at another restaurant) for wanting to take one of the veggie carvings home -her reason was that there is another dish that needed it!

  5. I'm jealous of a restaurant dedicated solely to sea food. We don't have such luxuries here in the small town I live in! My sister in law lives at the beach close by us though so she cooks delicious seafood - paua, crayfish and fresh fish are often on the menu. Yum! Some nice looking dishes on show :-)