foodiegemsofwellie

For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather over at KNOW Wellington's Word on the Street Blog or hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…

Archive for the category “Asian / Indian”

The Old Quarter

I finally got to The Old Quarter on Dixon Street, and rather liked it.

Old Quarter decor.jpg

A new Vietnamese eatery, The Old Quarter reminded me of Mr Go’s in many ways (decor), and of Dragonfly in others (food).

With dishes ranging from classic and not-so-classic bao buns (five spice roasted pork, salt and pepper soft shell crab), to nearly a dozen share plates (son-in-law eggs, salt and pepper squid), to salads (green papaya, orange roasted duck) or more individual meals (lemongrass grilled pork with spring rolls, green vegetarian/vegan curry), there’s definitely something for everyone here.

The fried fish in the apple salad was light and tender without any hint of grease or fishiness and was a nice contrast to the crisp apple and herbs, the baos were light but still slightly tacky (in the nicest possible sense!) and generously filled, and the peking cashew duck was tender and flavourful.

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Of course the chip fiend couldn’t help but point out that the website on the wall hangings was misspelt, as was the ‘wrapping’ leaves of the Crying Tiger. Perhaps the legacy of chip withdrawal?

The drinks offer up one of each wine varietal (two pinot noirs), a bunch of cocktails with suitably intriguing names (Chai to say No, Blushing Dragon), and a scattering of beers and cider.

Old Quarter drinks list.jpg

The service was friendly and personable, and I’m most definitely heading there for another round soon.

39b Dixon Street

 

Grand Century surprise

A friend who knows the owners of Grand Century on Tory Street told me about their refresh, with a more contemporary decor (I believe there is a little more art to come for the side wall), and a new smart chef from China.

Grand Cent decor

So we toddled along this week for dinner, and I have to say, it well exceeded my expectations. We shared a range of dishes, all of which were beautifully presented, executed with a light touch (not my experience generally with Chinese restaurants), and clearly had used quality ingredients.

The crispy prawns were lightly battered, and I learnt that you can eat the whole thing, tail and all (in fact I enjoyed the tail more than the head!); the whole blue cod was tender with gentle herby notes (beware the odd bone); the rice-wrapped sesame parcels were sweet, crispy and moreish; the orange beef satisfactorily sticky and tender with touches of crispness; and the deep fried pork had a light batter and almost melted in the mouth.

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And then onto dessert. Oh my god.

Caramelised kumara beneath a tree of spun sugar, with the chunks of kumara dipped in iced water to enhance the texture just before eating (and yes this dessert is on their menu as a standard option – done with either apple or kumara).

I would never in a million years have expected this in a Chinese restaurant. And I can’t say enough about the uniqueness, finesse and execution of this dish; Judy has netted herself one smart chef indeed (and nice to have a dessert that isn’t creamy and over-rich).

Grand Cent caram kum dessert.jpg

We washed all this down with a rather nice Mt Difficulty Chardonnay, and finished off with a round of liqueurs (as you do right?).

I’ve also heard a sneaky rumour that the new chef does a mean Peking Duck for groups, but one needs to request it a few days in advance, as its not a standard offering.

I was very impressed with the step up that Grand Century have taken, and intend to take my dinner club back soon.

84 Tory Street

 

 

 

Hot Sauce

If you haven’t checked out Hot Sauce yet, its definitely time to do so.

Hot Sauce decor

I heard it somewhere described as as cross between Dragonfly and Mr Go’s and that’s about right. Although more lounge bar than restaurant (the pic above had tables cleared away for opening night, so there are more places to perch!), the food is still very good, and we found it a peaceful place to enjoy a bite and drink away from the Courtenay rat-race.

The food is Asian ‘non-fusion’, in that Chef Wylie Dean is more about keeping dishes authentic, and all are pretty much bite sized and easy to handle.

The drinks also cover a large range from sakes to champagne to pretty cocktails to Japanese beer and harder spirits. So you can’t possibly go thirsty or hungry at Hot Sauce.

Read the full blurb here.

QT Museum Hotel, 7 days from 4pm.

 

 

Young Shing

The delightful Doris has taken over where Yeung Shing used to be in upper Willis Street with a ‘younger‘ version. With clean, fresh Chinese food ranging across the traditional and not-so-traditional.

YS decor

We started off by sharing crispy spring rolls, which were hot, fresh and crispy, and then proceeded to satay beef and kung pao chicken. The satay beef is made using a blend of Fix and Fogg peanut butters (both the smooth and smoke & fire) and coconut milk. As a result the satay wasn’t heavy or gluggy, had a satisfying ring of real peanut oil left on the plate, and a tasty wee zing.

The kung pao chicken was similarly appealing, fresh and satisfying. As well as plentiful, with both meats tender and not over-cooked. There’s no MSG anywhere within a ten mile radius of Doris’s kitchen, and do ask her to explain why the blue cod has a ‘squirrel’ label on the menu, a delightful tale (tail?!).

 

Although this is a simple restaurant with a takeaway area, I enjoyed the clean, fresh styling, and the soothing clunk of woks and pop radio in the background.

There’s a fantastic 8m mural about to be painted on the dining room wall, and local beer and wine to be stocked in the future, but in the meantime take your own wine or beer along (BYO licensed) or enjoy the onsite offerings (I can thoroughly recommend the Hopt salted lychee soda).

YS squirrel

Cost effective, fresh and tasty.

296 Willis Street

Monday to Friday lunch, Monday to Saturday dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Kera-la-carte

The new Kera-la-carte Indian on Courtenay Place gave us the best Indian we’ve had in a good long while recently – light, tasty, fresh and more refined-feeling than most Indian around.

Keralacarte art.jpg

The food is centred on Kerala region in Southern India, one of the first spice trading areas with early Portugese and European influence.

The Uzhunnu Vada savoury donuts were outstanding, and the butter chicken had more flavour layers than any I’ve had before.

The chip fiend’s Chicken Chettinadu with spicy, aromatic chili’s hit the spot too. As did the Kallappam fluffy pancakes with crispy edges, made from fermented rice batter. Excellent on their own, and more excellent when used for the requisite mopping.

Don’t let this under-stated wee restaurant fool you (but maybe pass on the salted lime soda, that was just a step too weird).

Lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday.

25 Courtenay Place.

 

 

 

Comes and Goes

If you haven’t come and gone to Comes and Goes at Petone, you definitely should (Comes and Goes was named in the hope people would come and go all day long – and they certainly seem to be!).

Comes Goes decor

Comes and Goes is another in the stable of light, clean and predominantly plant-based eating (there are some meats, and copious use of eggs, but with a Korean background, Chef/Owner Sean has leaned the plant way, not the BBQ way).

And such an interesting selection of dishes (a multi-purpose daytime menu), that I’m going to bullet some below rather than describe them, as I simply won’t do them justice:

  • Rosewater yoghurt panna cotta, honey glazed muesli, berry compote, fruits, honey crumble, chocolate soil, freeze dried raspberries
  • Bibimbap mixed grains, puffed quinoa, mushroom, bean sprout, carrot, pickled daikon, seaweed salt, 63degC cooked egg, gochujang chilli paste, with minced beef or tofu.
  • Al’s sesame seed Ugly Bagel with mashed avocado, ricotta, dried tomato, 63degC cooked egg, fennel seeds, lime zest and paprika oil (pictured below)
  • Soba the Japanese noodle salad of daikon, carrot, bean sprout, red cabbage, spring onion, coriander, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, lemon wedge, with free range chicken or tofu (pictured below)
  • Cassoulet the French baked beans with duck fat, white beans, bacon, carrot, onion, mixed herbs, rosemary, 63degC cooked egg, and served with sourdough or gluten-free bread
  • The nest of pumpkin seed crumbed soft boiled eggs atop a filo pastry nest, feta and mesclun salad, and topped with beetroot ketchup (this was the dish I really, really wanted, but alas they’d served the last one just before I ordered – I did see it go past though, spectacular!).

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The dishes we had were beautifully presented, well balanced in flavour and texture, and I just wanted to stay all day and eat my way through the menu. It was that good.

I quite liked the under-stated decor, and an open kitchen you could see via a giant hole in the wall, but which kept some kitchen secrets and clutter to themselves.

They have a cabinet of cakes and slices available if you fancy afters, and I noticed a steady stream of locals coming and going (ha!) for coffee, so assume it’s good.

Be warned though – you can’t book and will likely have to put your name down then go for a wander up the street, there’s that many people coming and going (double ha!).

Comes Goes kitchen

Tuesday to Sunday, daytimes.

259 Jackson Street, Petone.

PappaRich

PappaRich has opened in Grey Street opposite the Intercontinental.

It’s pretty much the Malaysian Macca’s, albiet with a little more class. So wouldn’t normally be on my radar, but for the roti’s and hainan bread – both are excellent. The hainan is gorgeous steamed with butter and sugar, and choose any roti – you won’t go wrong.

pappa-decor

The chain started in Kuala Lumpar, and is now in Australia, Brunei, China, South Korea, Singapore, USA and little ol’ NZ (Auckland first in 2015).

It’s pretty much self-service – you write your own orders from a large glossy menu and then hit a green button on the table for collection – but the menu is very colourful and and easy to read.

The down-side to all of this was evidenced a little later when the food came in random sequences, with one meal nearly finished before the rest arrived, and the coconut jam roti (which was excellent) arriving later again.

Unbeknown to me it takes longer to craft, so either the kitchen don’t plan for these things, or its custom to just receive each item as it’s ready (which you don’t know because there isn’t an order-taker to tell you!) or you should mark your order in some way to indicate sequence (yep, you get the picture).

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The rest of the food was fresh and pleasant (fairly mild), and there look to be some interesting desserts for another adventure.

PappaRich is not licenced, but there’s a large selection of non-alcs from Cham (mixed coffee and tea served cold with ice) to fresh juices, a couple of hot offerings, and the many mugs of milky concoctions.

The almond grass jelly drink was a bit odd-sounding (right up my alley then!), but was actually rather fun and tasty – turns out those big straws are just the ticket for slurping up cubes of jelly.

pappa-jelly-almond-drink

Seven days from 11am.

3B/1 Grey Street

Gotta Go to Mr Go

An Asian hawker-style street food establishment has gone into the old Pizza King premises on Taranaki Street (near Courtenay). And its good.

Fresh, light and flavourful food, with nothing over $15 (the owners set the place up on a shoestring and are passing the savings on), Mr Go’s has a focus on community and melding together of influences – check out the history of Mr Go on their website.

We over-ordered to start given we didn’t expect significant quantity, and never made it to dessert. The food came pretty much all together, so we were able to sample all at once.

The most memorable items were the pulled pork bao bun; the housemade pineapple mint sparkling water; lightly coated popcorn chicken with an excellent Thai basil mayo; and the kung pao cauliflower (bring your spicy palate).

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There’s also cold beer on tap and by the bottle, a couple of ciders, a bunch of wines, various sodas and cocktails (many with asian flavours), and bottomless Supreme filter coffee. And the service was friendly and welcoming.

I’m so back there soon for another go (more moderately paced so I can fit dessert this time!).

Monday to Saturday 11am til late.

59 Taranaki Street.

 

 

Twisty Tahi Thai

I’ve read positive things about Tahi Thai, so thought I’d truck along and have a look for myself (Tahi being Maori for one – their street number on Courtenay Place – as well as a play on ‘Thai’).

And they certainly are twisty.

Tahi menu

With unexpected dishes (grilled pork chop on mashed potato with holy basil sauce, stir fried black spaghetti and prawns, baked NZ mussels with cheese and curry sauce to name just a few), décor and prices akin to a contemporary restaurant but in a casual location with people and traffic flowing past out the window, and beautifully presented dishes served fast, it was a whole bunch of contrasts.

Between us we had the chicken and young coconut, the prawns padthai (the above spaghetti dish) and the hidemebananas (yep you read that right – deep fried banana toastie with vanilla ice cream).

A sneaky wing found its way in among the chicken thighs, and some of the chicken and crumbed egg plant weren’t as well cooked as others (some of the eggplant being cold and hard) but the green curry itself with strips of soft coconut was excellent. There was also a bit of debate about how to eat it together given the separate components on a flat board, but I note there was very little left unhoovered at the end!

The prawns padthai was bigger than I could eat, and was suitably al dente with a lovely mild-medium tamarind sauce and peanut crumbs for artful scattering. The prawns were larger than I expected, and I noticed quite a few prawn and salmon dishes on Tahi’s menu for those of you who are seafood fans.

The hidemebananas were fun, crispy and bananary (Im hoping that’s a word!), and at $8, a steal. I thought the ‘I want sugar’ covers on the dessert menus were an amusing touch and decided next time I’m having the Honey Toast – a cube cabin construction of buttery white toast cemented with honey and maple syrup, oozing with vanilla ice cream. Sounds a whole heap of fun. With classic, cheese and strawberry choco toast options no less.

The entrees are in the $6.50 – $13 range, salads and soups $14-$16, the mains $26-$29, and the desserts $7-$15.

The wine list has one of each varietal by either the glass or bottle, including a red or white Spice Trail ‘hot blend’ designed to accompany hot food. The white was a blend of Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay, and came through as sweet and minerally. Overkill for my mild-medium padthai, but I can see how it might work well with a more spicy dish.

There’s also a range of local Parrotdog craft beers (yay local!), a few international beers, thai iced coffees and lattes, and a selection of sodas (watermelon I’m coming for you…).

We were serenaded for our entire visit by old time jazz music (more contrast), and I never quite got to the bottom of why the basil sauce on the grilled pork chop was holy. So I’m still trying to figure in my head how to categorise them. Another visit required perhaps…

 

Asiana Cooking School

Once hubby got past the ‘I’m paying for dinner and cooking it too????’, we had a grand time at the Asiana Cooking School.

Asiana roomThe school is in Tennyson Street, just a block down from Moore Wilson, and runs very slickly. Every person has a workstation with all the implements, ingredients, bowls, pans, recipes etc laid out ready to go, after you’ve first relaxed in the lounge side room enjoying the first tipple of the evening as everyone arrives.

Mindy tutors in a lovely open and informative manner, and happily shares tips throughout the evening – like the secret to stab-able (is that a word?) cooked courgette is to slice it on an angle. Simply but effective, and you won’t wind up with rings of courgette around your fork.

She demonstrates up the front first (so all recipes are relatively quick, you won’t spend all evening slaving over a hot pan), and then you’re let loose to replicate. Having the angled mirror above the demo bench works a treat so you can see exactly what’s being done no matter your position in the room.

On the night we went, the main was chicken in coconut sambal (the recipe helpfully adjusted to single portions), with banana roti to follow. Drooling yet? The sambal is a good example of a Malaysian dish which can be as hot or mild as you like (loads or a little sambal paste), is colourful, creamy and slightly sweet courtesy of the smidge of sugar added at the end.

We all managed the chicken pretty well, and made a fair go of the banana roti too (even him who was originally horrified at paying for a dinner he also had to cook, proudly proclaiming how well he’d beaten his roti into submission – something to do with the black bits on the underside maybe?).

Mindy had made the dough earlier to give it resting time, and we all discovered that the end product was actually easier to create than you’d imagine. We flattened, stretched and folded with flair, and learnt not to origami too many layers into the parcel so it didn’t end up doughy from too many layers to cook through. And to leave a little air at the edges on folding so it would puff up and offset any cooking shrinkage – aha!

Asiana platedTo finish the evening we sat at communal tables and enjoyed the fruits of our labour (plates with rice on magically appeared as we neared the end of our cooking), while Mindy’s staff cleaned up and re-set for the next day. What could be easier than that? And I even took leftovers home for lunch too.

Mindy has loads of classes each week and month, with an interesting array of recipes, so you’d be mad not to give this a go sometime. Especially in a group.

39 Tennyson Street.

 

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