Awarded by Jennifer Hough
In Auckland's Sandringham, Paradise restaurant and Paradise takeaways are local beacons for delicious, Indian cuisine. Without fail, every evening it is busy, with queues inevitable on weekends. Just over a year ago, Covid's Delta strain arrived and another level four lockdown was announced. After taking in the announcement and all it meant, I, and hundreds of like minded people, decided to stock up on our favourite curries and rushed to Sandringham. Paradise was jam packed with people, most of whom were in good spirits despite the 2+ hour wait for our takeaways. An Iranian man sat down next to me, and declared the scene an ideal environment for a super-spreader event. This made me laugh heartily and we soon were chatting away like old friends. As we waited I learned that he owned a vegan ice-cream company and he proudly showed me pictures of his handsome cats. Throughout the wait, the restaurant was humming with conversation and general joviality. As customers left others wished them good health. Eventually, my chair neighbour's number was called and we said our goodbyes and good wishes. Soon after, as I carried my 4 containers of Lamb Pasinday away, I realised that I was one of the lucky ones: a long queue of desperate curry enthusiasts snaked down Sandringham Rd waiting to get into the restaurant to then wait another couple of hours for their takeaways. Although all the food at Paradise is delicious, I opted to write about Lamb Pasinday, as it was the first dish I ever tried from Paradise, kicking off a long and satisfying relationship with the establishment. More so, it will always evoke memories of that wonderful, spirited evening amongst strangers, before the dawn of a long, dark lockdown.