RAD Mt. Eden is an exciting new entrant into the Auckland cafe scene. It can be hard to stand out amongst all the interesting cafes opening in Auckland, especially in Mt. Eden Village, a small retail strip full of coffee shops on an intersection behind a volcanic mountain. But RAD manages to do just that with their Vietnamese inspired menu and well-prepared coffee from renowned Wellington roasters Flight Coffee.
According to owner Duke Tran, RAD is all about “outstanding service; tasty food and excellent coffee.” I stopped by on only their second day open, but at 9:30am the place was already packed–and the staff definitely seemed to have their “outstanding service” game together, deftly dancing around the crowds.
RAD has a great Vietnamese twist to their menu and they bake their own bread offsite daily–a welcome contrast from most other cafes in the area that serve the usual Kiwi Breakfast menu of mainly eggs, bread and bacon. I tried RAD’s “Grandma’s pork bánh mì,” a riff on the classic Vietnamese baguette sandwich, with marinated pork and veggies. The pork was well seasoned and tender, and the marinated veggies brought a nice sweet and acidic tone to it that went well with a bit of kicky fresh chili sprinkled on top.
Although the food was impressive, what I was really there for was the chance to try some Flight Coffee. Flight is a Wellington-based coffee roaster owned by current New Zealand Barista Champion Nick Clark and passionate roaster Richard Corney. They are very popular in Wellington and Napier, but only a handful of cafes purchase their coffee in Auckland. RAD uses Flight’s Belle Blend, making shots with a Mazzer Robur grinder and a 3 group La Marzocco Strada EP. Belle is a blend of an Ethiopia Sidamo with the Colombia Helena, which is Flight’s “specialty coffee farm transformation project,” where Flight have partnered with the farmers to help increase quality and yields on the farm through investment, experimentation, and training.
RAD also have two Hario cold drip towers using Flight’s Belle Blend. As iced coffee, it had a rich chocolate and raisin aroma, followed by dark chocolate and burnt cane sugar on the palate, while the body was buttery and heavy with a long finish. The flat white I had was chocolatey and sweet with hints of almond. They brew different cold tea daily, which they serve at the table in place of water. They were serving a nice mellow rose tea when I visited, just a bit of floral aroma but not enough to overpower the other food and drink.
Material Creative designed the space, and they managed to create something simple but striking by working with the exposed brick walls and steel columns of the building. The shop has a wide range of seating options, including a number of larger communal tables, some strips of bar seating and two L-shaped diner tables. There is also a chilled cabinet selling cakes and slices.
The design and the menu at RAD are well paired: they are both warm, modern and inviting. RAD is an exciting addition to the Auckland cafe scene, full of interesting twists and beautiful details.
Albert Au (@albertacp01) is a working barista based in Auckland, New Zealand. Read more Albert Au on Sprudge.