As a Mt Eden local, I was skeptical when Tuihana Café first popped up beside the mysterious Bank of Baroda on Dominion Road. The location seemed problematic, a bit too far away from the bustling food and beverage hubs of Mt Eden village and the Dominion Road Shops #toohardbasket. But @tuihanacafe extended the invite on Twitter and my curiousness got the better of me. What I found was a café on the cutting edge, mixing great food and service with exemplary integration of technology – it was a kind of café 2.0.
First points for great social media engagement – not only are their Facebook and Twitter profiles engaging and content-rich, they are also one of the few cafes making the most of Foursquare, offering the mayor one free coffee per day – potentially one of the most coveted mayorships in Auckland! They also offer a friends special – introduce yourself to the staff to get a buy one and get one free offer. Tuihana provides free wi-fi for those who are data hungry, as well as a tweet and text order service for those on the run.
Second points are awarded for service – I was greeted by a chirpy-without-being-annoying staff member who pointed out some freaky-deaky cabinet options. These looked great, but I was more interested in the lunch menu. One thing is for sure, these guys are doing good things with food. I was pushed for time so went with something that sounded quick and easy, the BLT and a flat white.
At this point I found a seat at the big communal table with the newspaper - a nice option for the solo eater. Looking around, the place had a modern vibe with what appeared to be Scandinavian-designed furniture – interior design is not really my thing, but you get the idea. It was clean and modern. It was quite cosy and it only took a few full tables to make it feel lively and well attended. It would be perfect for an informal lunch catch up, maybe not so good for talking shop.
The friendly waiter brought over my flat white, which was shortly followed by the star of the show, the BLT. Chunky brie, fresh lettuce and tomato, bacon cooked al dente (crispy bacon is problematic in open sandwiches), drizzled with horopito hummus and aioli on Rewana bread – it was ka pai! There wasn’t the usual side of fries as a filler or distraction, the sandwich held its own.
This incredible sandwich came to a reasonable $15. The prices actually very good. Tuihana scored 15.5 in the Eggs Bene Index, while the average score for other cafes in the area is 18*.
While the location remains problematic, Tuihana is worth the short journey. The service is impeccable, the menu is unique and innovative and it’s generally a nice positive environment for lunch or coffee. I genuinely wish more cafes were like this one!
Overall rating: 8/10
- Location: 5
- Value: 9
- Service: 9
- Quality: 8
- Environment: 7
- X-Factor: 8
Tuihana Café. Foodstore, 114 Dominion Road, Mt Eden
*The Eggs Bene Index compares the prices of Eggs Benedict – a staple at all NZ cafes. $1 equals 1 point in the Eggs Bene Index. The lower the score the better.