The Return of Rad

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This week I’ve returned from a two month stint in London and two weeks suitcase-toting around central Europe. What an experience! London is a brilliant city with so much to offer, a place for foodies to eat their hearts out (pun-intended). There’s plenty that I’ll miss about the place: everything’s open till late and people are milling around at 11pm on a Tuesday; the amazingly efficient public transport system (and the CityMappers app on my iPhone) and knowing that you’re just one of six million. 

But New Zealand has plenty that London doesn’t, including generally excellent coffee. Most of the good ones (I personally frequented Dose on Long Lane near Smithfield) often had a Kiwi or Australian connection oddly enough. Our cafe culture is something to be envied and upon arriving home I was delighted to finally be visiting RAD. 

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On a fine Saturday lunch time the place was thronging with barely a spare seat in their slickly designed house, save for the one I found myself perched  on at the window looking out onto Mt Eden Road. Thoughtfulness is something overlooked these days in the age of instant gratification and snap-to-it, but RADbucks this trend in their aesthetically-pleasing geometric decor and natural wood interiors. They served a fruity, rose-based tea instead of water and their table numbers are made out of Lego. The menu is well thought out and humorous (visit to see what I mean), comprising of a small number of breakfast and lunch dishes. Small in number does not mean you aren’t spoilt for choice; peanut butter buttermilk pancakes? Truffle oil in your quartet of mushrooms? How to choose! On the lunch menu, the Vietnamese heritage of owner Duke Tran comes through in the pork banh mi and lemongrass beef vermicelli, of which I opted for the former.

I try to spare my several hundred Facebook friends with the details of my gastronomic life (read: no food pics please) but I couldn’t contain myself when I bit into Nana Tran’s pork banh mi. This is is the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Ever. The pork, marinated and sublimely tender, has a residual smoky sweetness to it. Who knew pork could be this good? The pickled turnip and carrot add the perfect level of crunch and act as a tangy foil to the fragrant cognac chicken pate layered within. The baguette, homemade, is ideal: light and soft in the middle, with crusty edges but not so crisp as to roughen the roof of your mouth with (yeah, you know what I’m talking about). Topped with sprightly sprigs of coriander and some slices of red chilli for a bit of kick, I feel certain this is the only hand-held meal you’ll ever want to eat again. 

The coffee is excellent (although what do I know, I’ve been stuck in London for the past two months) and they have a Lewisham award to prove it. I only wish their breakfast menu was an all day one, although if this were to interfere with the magic coming out at lunch, then scratch that idea. 

The Return of Rad
397 Mount Eden Road
Mount Eden