First up was a place in the main shopping street of Paihia. We went there on 24 December 2014 for a late lunch and it was while I was eating my chowder that I decided to have a go at setting up this blog. In future I’ll have a picture of what the chowder looked like – but this time I didn’t think about it until after I had finished.
I’ve decided to rate each place out of 10. As far as form goes, any seafood chowder should have more than one type of seafood, be served in a bowl (a curse on all those places which still think it’s cool to serve seafood chowder in a loaf of bread), and be accompanied by one or two pieces of lightly toasted bread with or without butter. The colour should be creamy white, with a yellowish tinge allowable.
Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack is located at 9 Williams Road, Paihia. Apparently the ribs are pretty good – but not so for the seafood chowder. The stuff I got was full of chopped up crabstick – the trick of a lazy chef/cook. Apparently crabstick is pulverised fish meat (usually hoki in New Zealand) which is shaped to resemble the leg meat from a crab. They bung in a bit of red colouring and some sort of sweet flavouring after vacuuming up the hoki from our EEZ. I don’t mind crabsticks by themselves once every few years, but they don’t belong in seafood chowder. Seafood chowder should be natural and unprocessed pieces of seafood floating in a thick chowder. Over 50% of the seafood in Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack chowder was crabstick.
The menu description was as follows: “Bay of Islands Seafood Chowder: Served with green lipped mussels, prawns and much more. $16.90.” No way. There were a couple of bits of chopped up mussel, a prawn floating in the middle, and much crabstick. The chowder was reasonably thick (good) and the quantity wasn’t too bad, but the crabstick made it far too sweet. So, I’ve given it 5 out of 10 on my unique and very arbitrary rating system. I wouldn’t go back for it. Probably not surprising in a place which seems to specialise in ribs.