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Now open: Varanasi in Auckland

Sharing is caring at Varanasi, a funky Indian tapas restaurant in central Auckland.

Variety is undoubtedly the spice of life so the concept here is a very good one. Pick a number of small plates of street-food-style Indian tapas and share them with the table.

Sample exciting and innovative dishes from the subcontinent like kumara, parsnip and chili samosas with tamarind dipping sauce, tandoori duck sliders with berry chutney, and masala crispy potatoes topped with yoghurt (photo below).

These are just a few of the highlights. New Zealand’s favourite Indian dish, butter chicken, is also a feature of the Varanasi restaurant menu – served with a side of garlic naan pieces, already cut up into slithers, perfect for sharing.

Two or three dishes per person seems adequate but, take it from us, you really don’t need to order additional naan or poori bread for a table of two if you’re already getting the butter chicken (photo above).

The food is excellent; the service is even better. Varanasi’s friendly waiters readily give their recommendations, guiding you through a menu that could be intimidating to the uninitiated. Even while you eat, you’ll be mapping out what you’d like to try next time.

Inside, the restaurant is suitably hip – think a cross between Red Hummingbird’s odd but interesting interior on Federal Street and the modern Indian vibe of that other great Indian tapas restaurant on North Wharf, Urban Turban. The restaurant’s booths are plush and the atmosphere is relaxed and easy going.

For dessert, you can choose from milk and white chocolate samosas and masala custard with coconut and cashews – but we can vouch for them only in principle. The restaurant’s drinks menu, too, is eye catching with a great range of craft and bottled beer, cider and non-alcoholic drinks (including Thumbs Up Indian cola).

It gets a big thumbs-up from us, then. Aucklanders are spoilt for choice when it comes to Indian restaurants but Varanasi on Wellesley Street West is something special.

While we have your attention, check out the top 5 Auckland Indian restaurants.

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  1. 21B Wellesley Street West, Auckland, Auckland

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