Lincoln Tan discovers Auckland’s hidden restaurant dishes – Moqueca de peixe at Platform 8

Herald ethnic affairs reporter and dedicated foodie Lincoln Tan introduces you to a world of hidden restaurant delights around Auckland.

There’s little point going to a railway station when you can’t travel anywhere – but not this time, when there’s a promise that your taste buds will be taken on holiday.

Reginaldo Richard is the new head chef at Platform 8, a restaurant and bar located at the old Auckland railway station near Beach Road.

Those who have heard of Richard or of his food – he previously worked at Odettes Eatery and is still involved with Honey Bones – will know that he specialises in coming up with the most amazing fusion dishes.

But the chef who hails from Ouro Fino in southern Brazil, says the dish he would cook for close friends and his fellow countrymen is actually something from his mum’s kitchen.

Moqueca de peixe, or Brazilian fish stew is not on Platform 8’s menu, and Richard’s version is based on his mother’s recipe.

“There is nothing fancy about this food, just pure food from the heart,” Richard said.

“My mother used to cook it and one taste of it often takes me back to her old kitchen. For others, it would take their taste buds to Brazil or a South American holiday.”

Richard corrects my pronunciation, saying the right way to say moqueca is moo-ke-ka.

The dish originated from Richard’s native Brazil, and is slowly cooked in a terracotta stone cassole, which is made from red clay and has a capacity to retain heat.

White fish is used with tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime and coriander as some of the other ingredients.

Richard uses either ling or hapuka steak for this dish. A moqueca set meal is usually accompanied with a side of pickled vegetables and rice.

Richard has travelled from Amsterdam to Spain, and has lived and worked with chefs from around the globe who have inspired him to come up with fancy dishes with a fusion of flavours.

However, Richard said that in these pandemic times, he understood there was a craving for some distinct traditional flavours.

“The special thing about moqueca is that the flavours are similar to stews in other parts of South America, so it will be more than just Brazilians who will get that taste of home,” he said.

Although not on the menu, Richard said he would be happy to cook the dish for anyone who requests for it and make an advance order.

Richard said his general menu at Platform 8 was “a lighter style of classical cooking” applied to mainly local New Zealand produce.

Since it opened last year, the restaurant has been a drinking and dining destination for concert goers attending performances at Spark arena next door.

More recently it has introduced activities, such as latin dancing and paint ‘n’ wine evenings to draw in diners.

The restaurant is nestled inside a building described by Heritage New Zealand as “one of the most self-consciously monumental public buildings erected in early 20th-century New Zealand”.

Gummer and Ford were its architects, and its style Beaux-Arts.

But despite its stunning environment, with high and ornate ceilings, classy terrazzo flooring and marble pillars, Richard says business has been generally quiet on evenings when there was nothing on.

“This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there are people who go out of the way to look for quiet places suitable for conversations on their special nights out,” he said.

“Also, it is on those quiet nights that is most likely that I will have time for special requests.”

• Platform 8, 26 Te Taou Crescent, Auckland;

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