The annual BYO review

The annual BYO review

There’s more to student life than just downing Southern Golds on Castle Street and eating fish’n’chips on Fatty Mile. Indeed, the past few years have seen the rise of a new tradition: the BYO. Nowadays there’s no need to wait for a birthday or graduation in order to fill a bottle with goon and stumble into an eating institution. In short, a night is not a night (or at least, not a good night) unless it begins with a drunken dinner.
Perhaps it seems a little redundant to review BYOs when, by the time the food touches your tastebuds, you’ve already downed a bottle and can’t tell curry from cardboard. Nonetheless, for those of you who have a heightened sense of taste after a glass or two of Country, or who fancy a hot date with edible, non-food-poisoning-ridden food, here’s our pick of the bunch.
India Gardens

Mains price range: $13-17
Corkage: $3
Typical clientele: Drunken louts, bewildered families, people having rowdy twenty-firsts.
Food: Our favourite is the palak paneer and malai kofta with a garlic naan. Num num. But all the food here is pretty great. They do tend to underestimate how much heat a white girl can handle though.
Service: Prompt and long suffering. Accustomed to slurring words, stumbling to the counter and breaking wine glasses.
Atmosphere: On Monday nights, India Gardens almost seems like a colourful, reputable family owned restaurant. On every other night, however, India Gardens becomes progressively more similar to a scarfie pub as time progresses. During our last visit, one table of rather drunk guys got in an argument with an old man and told him to fuck off. The time before, a girl vomited outside the loo while I peed, leading to an almost shoe-vomit situation. Gross. Needless to say, the atmosphere is completely inappropriate for a first date.
Ultimate rating: 3.5/5. Its debauchery is its brilliance.
Indian Summer

Mains price range: $14-$20
Corkage: $5
Typical clientele: Middle-aged workers and families
Food: Delicious, some would say even better than the old favourite India Gardens. Worth getting the starters as well, especially the samosas.
Service: A bit hit and miss. Sometimes the dinner takes an age to come, but the staff are always friendly. Once we waited for an hour and got complementary poppadoms. That was cool.
Atmosphere: Reminiscent of a themed party. The tables are under a huge white canopy with sparkly decorations. There’s something kind of awkward about the whole place though. Maybe it’s because I had a meet-the-parents dinner there. Maybe it’s because I saw my gynaecologist there while on a date once. But mostly I think it’s because it’s intimidatingly spacious for how few customers there are.
Ultimate rating: 3/5. Despite the good food, the vibez are a little off. Good to take the parents to though.
Mains price range: Most people buy a few small things so, depending on how much you eat, a meal could cost between $12 and $20.
Typical clientele: Drunken thirty-somethings, love-struck couples, cool-kids.
Food: By far the best and most authentic Japanese food in town. Everything is small and cheap, so share a few things with your buddy. Pretty much everything on the menu is totally amazing. Our picks: gyoza, octopus balls, okonomiyaki and the various noodle dishes.
Service: Sometimes friendly, sometimes strangely disinterested. My attempts at pronouncing Japanese words were met with a frosty stare.
Atmosphere: Brilliant. Yuki is small and cute, and you sit at tables made from carved bits of tree.
Ultimate rating: 4.5/5. Yuki is probably the best BYO in town.

Korea House
Mains price range: $12-20
Corkage: $4
Typical clientele: Predominantly Korean people. This is generally a good sign.
Food: Really, really delicious. The food came with crazy pickles and sides, which was super nice.
Service: The man who served us was slightly odd and refused to bring me water so I had to stagger to the water jug. Just joking. I made my boyfriend fetch it.
Atmosphere: Kind of funny décor, but nice nonetheless. PLUS, it has a great street view.
Ultimate rating: 4/5. Small, delicious and funkily located upstairs, Korea House is the unsung hero of Dunedin BYOs.
The Asian
Mains price range: You can get a few things for $15. Not bad.
Corkage: $5
Typical clientele: To be honest, the lighting is so red and dim I have generally found it hard to see in The Asian. It seems The Asian is inhabited by a motley crew of boozed students and people attempting to have a “nice dinner”.
Food: I should pre-empt this by saying I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food. Allegedly some people have claimed The Asian is home to the most authentic and best Chinese food in Dunedin. They are incorrect. The saving grace in the food department is the totally bizarre things that they are willing to deep fry, such as deep fried milk and deep fried ice cream. Go here to party, but don’t touch the food.
Service: Super efficient. Not sure if it was the wine, but I’m fairly sure the food came within seconds.
Atmosphere: The best thing about The Asian is that it’s actually called The Asian, closely followed by the faux-luxury velvet décor. The worst thing is that I regret everything that I’ve eaten there.
Ultimate rating: 1/5
India Gate
Mains price range: $13- $20
Typical clientele: Fat families (like, really fat) and lonely men. This is no regular student hang out.
Food: Generally really good. It’s a bit hit and miss though- sometimes it looks as if India Gate will knock India Gardens from their Indian BYO throne, but other times, the food is a little substandard. Beware though- when they say spicy, it’s no joke, they’re fo’ real.
Service: They’re pretty nice. Also, they do an amazing delivery service where they bring the BYO to you. SO GOOD.
Atmosphere: Odd. We mostly felt too young and drunk to be there. It does make for some fantastic people watching though.
Ultimate rating: 3/5
Mains price range: $5-$10 
Corkage: None. It’s not technically allowed. But what’s a little goon-filled coke cup ever done to you?
Typical clientele: Stumbling girls, scary jock guys, emo kids with smudged make up.
Food: Delicious. Unbeatable. Be sure to get student fries with everything. Better still, do the Family Pack challenge and eat your body weight in fast food.
Service: Mostly wide-eyed bewilderment. Try doing something out of the ordinary, like getting a vegetarian cheeseburger sans meat, and they freak out and can’t work out the price, or have to ask their manager for permission.
Atmosphere: Some say a trip to McDonalds is about the food, and the atmosphere is secondary. I disagree. The atmosphere is what makes it. On one such McDonalds BYO, my friend got chatted up by some spotty bogan who asked her what she was doing later.
Ultimate rating: 4/5. We wanted McDonalds to win but they don’t technically qualify.
Mains price range: $16-20
Corkage: $5
Typical clientele: Awkward couples, mature students.
Food: Yummy Malaysian food, particularly vegetarian korma and their various noodle dishes. Their curries come with a frighteningly perfectly conical portion of rice on the side, another excitement.
Service: Quite unmemorable which I suppose, on the scale of things, is quite a positive.
Atmosphere: Sort of like stepping into someone’s renovated lounge. They don’t play music which makes the Rainforest a little awkward for loud jokes about how someone likes dick.
Ultimate rating: 3/5
Great Taste
Mains price range: $16 for all you can eat with a student ID card
Corkage: $5
Typical clientele: The white trash of South Dunedin, exchange students, wasted students looking for a “lol”.
Food: They have deep fried sushi and as much ice cream as you can eat! Despite this, the food is awful. It’s as if Great Taste found out how nice food should look, but didn’t know how it should taste, and as a result made incredibly tempting but ultimately disappointing food.
Service: None. It’s self-serve, which is both amazing and horrible. It’s all about tactics at Great Taste- I attempted to stack my plate as high as possible, and the resulting coleslaw, mashed potato, nacho, sushi and pineapple mix was almost inedible. Needless to say, I did not get my $20 worth.
Atmosphere: Sort of a combination between a children’s birthday party at Valentine’s and a school camp. Was brilliant yet terrible.
Ultimate rating: 2/5. It only rates this highly due to the novelty factor.
Tokyo Garden
Mains price range: $15-$20
Corkage: $5. You can also get $2 sake shots, which is pretty much the main reason for going there.
Typical clientele: Drunken scarfies, freshers on hall dinners.
Food: To be perfectly honest, I was rather nervous about eating the food. A friend had warned me that he had gone three times and got food poisoning, and I was told not to touch the chicken. Ultimately, the food was sort of fine (I got a sizzling plate which made me feel like a celebrity) although it was by far the least authentic Japanese food I’ve ever had, including the sushi from New World.
Service: Strangely, the waitress took our order at the table, eschewing the favoured wait-for-us-to-order-at-the-counter strategy. This was a nice touch. The guy at the BBQ area started doing “tricks” with a fish slice, but unfortunately he dropped it. Everyone was totally impressed regardless.
Atmosphere: Perhaps I wasn’t drunk enough, but I was quite concerned about hygiene. The table was sticky, the menus were sticky, as were the glasses, water jugs and chop sticks. There was also a disconcerting smell that was made all the worse as trashy perfume-drenched scarfie-girls sat down next to us. Probably the best thing though was the menu. In order to encourage positive vibez, Tokyo Gardens has written “appetizing” before each subheading; “appetizing soups”, “appetizing sushi”, “appetizing noodles” and so on.
Ultimate rating: 2/5. It’s almost hilariously bad.
Deserves a mention: We didn’t review Etruscos, Thai Hanoi, Thai Over or Thai Land due to their price (like, $20 for a main!  Shit man, do you think we’re loaded?!). However, if you’re willing to spend aforementioned exorbitant price for a special occasion, all are rather delicious. Go forth and eat, big spender.

Posted 3:48am Monday 21st March 2011 by Anonymous.