Ima Bistro

4 star rating 29 reviews

Restaurant location map

09 3007252

57 Fort Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

  Middle Eastern
7 AM to 2:30 PM (Mon), 7 AM to 11 PM (Tue-Fri), 5:30 PM to 11 PM (Sat), Sun Closed


Reviews for Ima Bistro

5 star rating
by Rodmard Khoey
one month ago

Wow, what can I say... This place is AMAZING!, everything is so fresh, every bite explodes with flavor!. We tried basicaly everything on the menu and were completely blown away with every dish!

If you want an excellent meal matched with a warm cozy atmosphere, this place is for you!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! p.s try the Lamb shoulder... it melts in your mouth!

5 star rating
by JohnnyF
2 months ago

I only recently went to Ima for the first time. I can't believe I haven't done this earlier. We had chicken and lots of sides and it was possibly the best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food I ever had.

4 star rating
by Kate W
3 months ago

Always wanted to try this place and finally got the chance to for lunch today. I had the grilled lamb pitas which were really tasty. The yoghurt and tahini sauces were incredible as well. At $19 it wasn't a cheapo lunch but it was delicious and i'll definitely be going back. Popped along to the deli afterwards which has just opened so was a bit bare but had the bambusa (almon and semolina bites) and sweet cigars (pastry filled with honey and nuts) - both delicious.

4 star rating
by Genie @ BunnyEatsDesign
6 months ago

Ima is warm and cozy. Bookshelves full of books, a welcoming mural, beautifully patterned lit ceiling and low light make for lovely ambience. On the quiet end of Fort Street, once you are inside you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. The smallish dining area can feel a bit noisy and full though so be prepared if you’re looking for a quiet night out. Specialising in Middle Eastern, Israeli and North African inspired healthy and hearty food. Ima means mother in Hebrew and family-style dining is celebrated here. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We dined at Ima as a large group celebrating a birthday. We had a excellent waitress who carefully (and repeatedly down the table) explained our options as a group. She was very patient with us (thank you!) as working out what to order for a group with varying dietary requirements and budgets can be a little tricky. There are plenty of vegetarian options, and even vegan options available on request. All the sides and mezze vegetarian. All the sides and mains are gluten-free. Gluten-free bread available. Dietary/allergen options are unmarked on menu so discuss your requirements with your waiter.

I really loved the Mezze, especially the spice roasted cauliflower. The Arab rice with lentil pine nuts almonds pistachios and caramelized onions was incredible. I couldn’t stop gorging on it. Others really loved the chickpea dish and the bok choy and also the carrots were delicious.

My only complaint is that for the meat eaters, there wasn’t enough meat. I had a tiny morsel of the lamb and a chicken wing, I’m not sure if there we ordered any other meats because we didn't see any. It would have been nice to try a bit more of the meat. There was so little that I can’t really comment on the meat.

The waitress who topped up our water and drinks was amazing. She was constantly keeping an eye out. Just a brief moment of eye contact and a smile and she was on the spot. Apparently it was her first week in New Zealand and we were super impressed with her throughout the evening. In contrast, girl behind the till that didn’t smile the entire night. She might have been stressed rather than angry but I found it difficult ordering anything through her. We were quite a jubilant bunch, it’s a shame the emotions didn’t rub off. Just a smile makes such a difference!

They didn’t have cake at Ima but they were happy to put a candle on one of their desserts for the birthday girl and walk it out slowly from the kitchen so we could sing happy birthday to her. That was a lovely way to finish the evening.

5 star rating
by Carlo
7 months ago

I am a gourmand, foodie, whatever you want to call it I love cooking and eating. Ima ticks all the boxes for me, food is beautiful, it excites me, it makes me want more! Everytime! You can tell that food is prepared with love and attention at Ima, so much dedication to their food that they even make their own mozzarela, (: what other restaurant would go all the way to make their own cheese!?
And to top things up service is amazing, last time I went there with my partner we were celebrating being granted residency in NZ, Yael the owner made us a special dessert (: with kiwi birds and a fern! Even though the restaurant was packed she went that extra mile to please us. Thank you Yael!

5 star rating
by GeorgieB
8 months ago

Possibly one of the best dinners I have had in a long time. I went with my Mum last Saturday night and we were both very impressed overall by the food, service and ambience.

Ima Bistro serves traditional Israeli/Mediterranean cuisine and it is really one of a kind because you usually only see Middle Eastern restaurants around the city.

The whole team warmly welcomed us on arrival, including the owner herself (Yael Shochat) who we initially thought was called 'Ima' seeing as that was the name of her restaurant, but in fact 'Ima' means 'Mother' in Hebrew. Yael did not mind us asking because she explained that most of her customers think her name is actually 'Ima'.

Our waiter (young man) was very friendly and talked us through how the menu works. You first choose your main (lamb, chicken, fish, haloumi, beef or a vegetarian eggplant dish) - we chose the Lebanese Lamb Shoulder, slow braised with Lebanese spice mix ($15 per portion) and the Roast Stuffed Free-Range Chicken, with the stuffing being pine nuts, almonds, dried fruits, herbs and spices ($16 for a quarter size). The lamb was extremely tender and had a wonderful flavour. But the chicken was the highlight of the night - the stuffing was absolutely delicious and the chicken was cooked perfectly!

Along with your main, you pay an extra $12 and receive five sides to share between you and your dining companions. These include:

- Arab rice with lentils, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios and caramelised onions

- Grilled Tunisian carrot and feta salad

- Crunchy, minty salad

- Slightly spicy tomato salad; and

- Seasonal vegetable dish.

These were all delicious sides and perfectly complemented the chicken and lamb. Our favourite was definitely the Arab rice - the pine nuts really stood out and I believe they were toasted as that gives them a lovely flavour!

As for the drinks, they serve wine, beer and a few non-alcoholic drinks. Yael came over to our table at the beginning to introduce herself and talk about the restaurant and also gave us good recommendations for the wine. My Mum was particularly interested in the 'Ima's Pinot Noir', which is a blend Yael came up with in association with Kim Crawford Wines who produced the wine for her restaurant. It is a blend of three reds and was delicious. I recommend having this wine with your meal and it is only $7 per glass - bargain!

We did not have dessert, because, well, we were very satisfied with the meal. It was that sort of feeling when you are content with how much you have eaten. Of course, I usually like to eat to my heart's content, so this was quite new to me.

Overall, going to Ima Bistro is the best foodie outing I have had in a long time. The service was fantastic and it was a pleasure seeing Yael helping out with the waitressing and interacting with all the customers. The food was definitely one of a kind and this is what made it a truly special experience.

5 star rating
by Amy Webb
8 months ago

Ima has been on my wishlist for a while and I finally made it! I went last night with a group of work friends which I definitely recommend as their meals are designed to be shared.

We ordered the lamb shoulder, haloumi, ribs and a chickpea dish. All were delicious but I think the lamb was the star; perfectly cooked and so tender.

Sides were included as part of the meal, for $12 extra per person. There were 5 different dishes, my favourite being the roast carrot and feta salad.

The service was great, our waitress did such a good job at explaining everything on the menu. The restaurant felt very intimate and authentic.

5 star rating
by Paul Brewer
8 months ago

Good food great night I would go again just for the Kaneffe dessert. Has the feeling of a rustic kitchen everybody out front where you can see and hear all. Had a quiet laugh as the owner used some color full language as a small problem occurred. Appreciated the at home feel
Another 1st class meal consistantly good

3 star rating
by Marla Compton
9 months ago

Pretty good salads; meat portions quite small (strange that the menu states the fish would feed two-- no way!) ; lamb was good- but, again, not enough; extremely loud setting for dinner; servers are hit or miss. I wouldn't rush back.

5 star rating
by Myra Cohen
9 months ago

The only Israeli restaurant I know of in Auckland, but sometimes only one is just enough. Ima means mother in Hebrew and true to its name their food is authentic just like mother made it (if she were Israeli). They make their own Pita bread, Hummus and Harissa...yum yum yum! The owner sometimes serves the food herself and is happy to engage in a friendly chat.

2 star rating
by Catherine
10 months ago

I have been to Ima before several times but last night had an awful experience. I met an old friend for a catch up having booked by telephone for 6pm. The meal was ok, although the snapper had so many fish scales that for me, made it an unpleasant eating experience. At 8pm we were approached by the waitress who advised us that they needed our table for a second sitting and asked us to leave! When we looked horrified she asked if we were told this at the time of booking the table - I wasn't. This experience completely ruined my evening. I have no problem with restaurants having two sittings as long as customers are informed of the fact - I should have been told at the time or booking and/or at arrival so that I could have made a choice to go elsewhere.

4 star rating
by Nom Nom Panda
10 months ago

We went to this dimly-lit Israeli restaurant for a family dinner one night at 6pm. On ringing to confirm the booking, we discovered that we had to leave by 8pm, which felt a little rushed as we were having 3 courses. The space itself was nicely decorated though, and the staff brought toy animals out for the children to keep them occupied, as well as a high chair for the baby.

The meal had a homely feel as dishes are shared, and we could see into the open kitchen where the chefs were very busy indeed (especially as at one point, it smelt like they had burnt something). We ordered promptly for the whole table, with help from a waitress, to get a head start on another large group. Unfortunately, although the staff were friendly, they were also somewhat inexperienced/inattentive. We had to ask for water to be filled, and the spanakopita were placed at one end of the table without further commentary, so that we assumed another lot would be forthcoming. On enquiry, we discovered that the four triangles were supposed to be shared between the eight of us, and we could not order more as they needed to save some for other tables!

Although we had said to err on the side of ordering too much, we still had to ask for an extra bowl of bread to go with the mezze platters. We also wanted to get more mains after everything came out, and were told it would pretty much have to be the chicken, as that was the quickest to cook.

The food itself was enjoyable. The spanakopita was worth fighting for and each dish had good flavour, though some were more subtle than others. The Tunisian carrot salad was too spicy for the kids, but tasted great for everyone else. We liked the fact that despite there being plenty of meat (we had chicken, fish and lamb), there was also a good variety of salads.

On the dessert front, the chocolate and hazelnut slice tasted like Ferrero Rocher - deeply chocolatey and nutty and quite sweet, also very difficult to cut as it was cold and solid. We were looking forward to the knafeh as we have had a very good version elsewhere. The one here was more salty than sweet, with the goat cheese quite chewy and the kadief pastry on top was limp rather than crispy as advertised.

Overall, a good choice for a group meal in a casual environment, as there was an interesting variety of flavours to be tasted. Service was friendly but not polished.

5 star rating
by Yzette Van Der Westhuizen
Feb 17, 2014

This place is a must go! Outstanding food with a lot of flavour and enough to fill a hungry bunch. The waitress was patient and explained the meal selection to us in detail. The wine selection complimented the different flavours of the meal. Relaxed atmosphere and great service. Will definitely go back there and recommend to my friends.

4 star rating
by Diana
Feb 16, 2014

Went for dinner with husband and experienced amazingly beautiful food at Ima. We thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary sparkling water, wine, shared 1/2 chicken with side dishes, potato chips, and a chocolate and hazelnut dessert. The variety of flavours in the side dishes are unforgettable. Even the tomato and aioli dips complimenting the chips tasted surprisingly great.
We were let down a bit by the services. Although friendly and had well explained the menu, the girl serving us missed an order, and after we finished the mains we waited quite a while before anyone noticed us to clean the table and for us to order dessert.

Overall, go for the food, I know we will again!

5 star rating
by Matt Norfolk
Feb 15, 2014

Absolutely a must go experience. Ima Restaurant was perfect for a Valentines meal, service was great and explained each meal so that us as novices could appreciate the different foods and culture. The food is by far the best selling point, I could not praise the food more, the tastes are exceptionable. I will be back and with more people to try their amazing food and meet the informative and passionate staff.

1 star rating
by Art
Jan 22, 2014

Went for a solo lunch last week to Ima Bistro. Waitress told me of the corn fritters as lunch special, I thought yes why not. It arrived after waiting 40 minutes. I had looked up at the staff earlier and waiter there shook his head and "it's coming, it's coming, they are making it from scratch". Perhaps the kitchen staff had gone to harvest and husk the corn first i thought. On my plate arrived the most soggy fritters ever. It felt like I was eating scrambled eggs with bits of corn in it, along with mesclun leaves without any dressing and a bland chopped cucumber type salad. I got glares for asking for salt and pepper.Very disappointed as have been reading what a great place Ima was meant to be. The staff were very self-involved, they were all going to the Big Day Out for their work do and a lot of loud banter between them about that. Will not be going back neither as solo nor in multiples.

4 star rating
by David Parussini
Jan 13, 2014

First time visiting for lunch, we felt the lunch menu was a little limited in choice however 2 out of 3 of us really enjoyed the Shakshuka - we will back to try other menu options in the future definitely.

5 star rating
by Steph G
Nov 22, 2013

We walked in off the street on a Friday night (group of 6) and were seated immediately, we chose an outside table. The service was great, we enjoyed the music from the live band playing next door and started with a mixed platter to was delicious! We each ordered a different meat for mains and then all shared our plates and the sensational side dishes that came with them. The food was AMAZING, I eat out several times a week and this has to be the best meal I've had in a long time. I plan on taking my husband and kids there this weekend as I've been craving the food ever since :)

5 star rating
by Geraldine Tew
Nov 17, 2013

Probably one of the best eating experiences Ive had in a long time. Small intimate restaurant - an abundance of flavorsome food and affordable. It was a great night and Ive recommended to many a friend since.

5 star rating
by Brian Price
May 31, 2013

Amazing - In town visiting and walked in off the street without knowing anything about the place and I feel compelled to write a review as it was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. The sharing style menu and amazing mix of flavours & ingredients was exceptional. We had the lamb and the chicken with the mixed side dishes - simply amazing. Also loved that you could get wine in anything from a glass to a 1/2 carafe to a bottle. Great cozy atmosphere and friendly staff - you can sense that there is a hands on owner who really cares.

5 star rating
by Bridget Monohan
Mar 21, 2013

Excellent restaurant. The lamb, salads, pate, and dessert with Gorgonzola/mozzarella/ and pistachios were delicious. Plus it offers a pleasant place to sit and more than accommodating staff. We had a flight to catch and they opened 30 mins early for dinner for us! Reasonably priced for what you get.

5 star rating
by Mel
Oct 20, 2012

I adore this restaurant. It's the only one in Auckland I go to regularly. The food is consistently great. Yael is extremely passionate and her food reflects that. The chicken liver pate is superb. I have to have it every time I go there. Another of my favourites is the brik, an out-of-this-world pastry a bit like a large won ton, stuffed with fresh tuna and lemon.The pastry is home made and you can tell. For a main course I often have the chicken breast which is succulent and delicious, especially the superb stuffing.

5 star rating
by Michelle Wells
Aug 22, 2012

Wow! What a fantastic place! We celebrated my sister Doms birthday and the food was OUT OF THIS WORLD! The lamb was the best i have ever had and the chicken so full of flavor? The salad and veg were beautifully prepared and fresh produce makes such a huge difference to the meal. Will be back !

4 star rating
by Liv Winstone
Jun 12, 2012

A delightful experience at this middle-Eastern bistro. My dear Israeli friend brought me here, and for a truely Israel experience, she recommended I try the Shakshuka: "Spicy slow roasted tomato with Moroccan merguez sausage and poached eggs. Served with toast."

She said she makes it at home herself - for lunch, or breakfast, or dinner - any time of day. I thought it was like an Israeli version of of a very hearty Kiwi fry-up. But it comes in semi-liquified form, served in a deep frypan, and with eggs poaching and swimming in beautiful rich tomatoes. So you dip the toast into the mixture to load great gloops of runny golden egg yolk onto your hunks of bread.

Smiley, helpful service. A bohemian feel to the decor. I liked it.

4 star rating
by Alison McDermott
Apr 19, 2012

Wonderful Middle Eastern food in cosy , homestyle surroundings. Generous portions which made my husband and teenage children very happy. Friendly waitress , convivial atmosphere.

2 star rating
by Amanda Cosgrove
Jan 24, 2012

We had a meal here on Friday night following the restaurants review in Metro last year. We just walked in off the street and didn't read the menu before taking a seat. The moment I did I wanted to leave because I thought it was terribly expensive for a cafe/bistro and we were the only people there.
My father and I order the stuffed chicken leg and my partner got the lamb. I think they were $31 each. The chicken itself was ok and had a lot of flavour when you incorporated the stuffing otherwise it was bland. The "sauce" it came sitting in and the couscous were incredibly watery and bland and needed a lot of salt and pepper.
The place was full when we left but I don't think we'll be returning as you can get some really tasty meals in Auckland for under $30 per person and they have some flavour!

5 star rating
by Giapo Grazioli
Apr 04, 2011

This Place really stands out from The average Cafes.

The food is exceptional. The mozzarella in carrozza is to' die for. The Owner is very passionate. She is really
Into something extra ordinary. I loved every single bit...

Thank you

5 star rating
by Zeena
May 03, 2009

Very authentic and delicious flavour You can ever taste of Middle Eastern FOOD:)The Chef is very talented and the customer service is amazing!. Top Score!

5 star rating
by Ray Ray
Mar 18, 2009

100/100...simply the best. food is divine, seating area is large, great customer service and of course they have my fave..argelieh!!!!