We were recently invited to sample the exotic and alluring cuisine of South America by one of the newest kids on the Auckland restaurant block – Inti. Headed up by Spanish chef Javier Carmona, Inti puts a contemporary spin on traditional Hispanic dishes.
Situated on the corner of O’Connell and Chancery Streets in a grand building, Inti offers a contemporary vibe with touches of South American art dotted around. The name Inti comes from the Incan God of the Sun. Inti’s wife, Quilla was Goddess of the Moon and together they communicated through the stars.
The striking artwork is the work of Auckland aerosol artist Flox and her work brings to life the interior of Inti.
The layout of the restaurant is spacious and bright with pendant lighting illuminating each table. Traditional style earthenware pottery offer glimpses into Incan times and the metal plates used are hand beaten, inspired by the 13th and 14th century. The water jugs and cups are sourced from a local Kiwi business and demonstrates the restaurant’s ethos of using local suppliers.
On all of the tables diners will find Tequesquite which is a natural mineral salt found in Mexico and is common to table salt but more grey in colour.
We can’t complement the interior of Inti enough. From the bar on your right as you enter to even the hand washing sink as you leave the bathroom, every detail has been designed with meticulous precision.
Staff were attentive, very knowledgeable about the menu and suggested dishes for us to try.
Between 5 of us we decided we would like to try a bit of everything to really get a fully rounded impression of the food on offer here. We left it up to the staff to bring us what they thought would showcase the food most and buckled ourselves in for a feast.
First up was the Salsa Tarasca. Soft corn tortillas, cricket panucho and concha. A panucho is a Mexican specialty from the Yucatan region and unusually in this case was made with crickets! The conchas tasted like a sweet bread and paired perfectly with the fiery salsa.
The Mussel Michaelada consisted of three perfectly fresh mussels served with dark beer, fermented celery, amaranth and chili.
One dish which is a perfect nibble to share between friends is the Plantain chips served with smoked sour cream, lime and burnt leek.
We were also eager to try the Cactus Guacamole which came topped with seaweed, almond, espazote and am avocado leaf on the side. More crunchy and fresh than a traditional guacamole we all unanimously agreed that this was a hit.
Who knew an avocado leaf was so big?
Moving on to the starters – yes those were only the appetisers! Next up was the Green Chorizo which none of us had tried before. This came served with a perfectly cooked 65 degree egg, salted pepitas and wood sorrel. Pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed and added great texture to the dish.
Our next dish was one we were all a little apprehensive about trying. The Tostada came served with morcilla, pitaya, peanut and black ant. Yes you read that correctly, black ants. We all dived in and the ants actually added a really nice crunchy texture and tasted almost peppery.
The Anticucho was skewered beef cooked in jamon fat, aji Amarillo and lettuce juice. The beef was so succulent and tender it melted in the mouth and had a real spicy kick.
Onto the mains – yes we still had room. We are food bloggers after all. Out came the Huitlacoche which consisted of raw oca, hoja santa, lemon and a rice cracker. Oca is similar to the New Zealand yam.
The Cebiche was a work of art on a plate. It was served with red cabbage tigers milk, salted tamarillo and sweet potato. The fish was super fresh and melted in the mouth. Cebiche on the menu changes quite often.
Star dish of the night and one we most definitely were fighting over was the Duck in Burnt Honey Brine. It came with rose petal mole and coconut horchata. The skin was perfectly seared and crisp.
The Lamb Pibil was a moist medium rare and full of flavour. Served alongside carrot, beeswax, pomegranate and fuschia the meat was of the finest quality.
To finish on a sweet note we sampled the Smoked Xocolate which was halfway between a mousse and a fondant in terms of texture. It came with mandarin, guajillo chili and persimmon.
The Vanilla Queso was so refreshing and the perfect way to cleanse your palate after a meal. Burnt pineapple came encased in cucumber ice, lemon verbena and seeds.
We really did have an evening of exquisite food, were waited on by efficient and competent staff who really knew their stuff and fully immersed ourselves in a cuisine we were not entirely familiar with.
We suggest you do the same – you most certainly will be as satisfied as we were.
2 Chancery Street
Tel: 09 374 0981