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”

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.

 

 

Tasty Tokeyo

Tokeyo is the new venture by the Wellington Hospitality Group (Munchen, Coene’s, Bethel Woods, and many other suburban bars), in the former Vivo premises. And should definitely be on your must-try list (assuming you like Japanese food).

Developed under the hand of Vincent Lombino of Hideaway fame, Tokeyo hits all the right notes in terms of decor, mood, authentic Japanese food (albiet with a little dab of Korean here and there courtesy of Chef Kim’s background), and excellent service.

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A couple in my group have lived in Japan, and were able to explain some of the finer points like the Okonomiyaki being the Osaka style where ingredients are mixed first before cooking, as opposed to the Hiroshima style where they build layer by layer.

The freshness and execution was excellent, with the pork gyoza being a lovely mix of al dente-ness and porky softness, the grilled eggplant sauce so good I licked the plate clean, and the rainbow rolls so tender and flavourful that I nearly didn’t share.

Tokeyo desserts are sake, whisky or dessert cocktails, so we finished with a lightly warming pear-flavoured Gekkeikan sake while contemplating what to try next time.

And then checked out the beauty and precision of the sushi master at work behind the bar, including some pretty nifty blowtorch skills!

They have a DJ later on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings; do lunches on Fridays; have an excellent big group dining table; and are available for hire on Sundays and Mondays. Too easy.

From 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, and from noon Fridays.

19 Edward 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.

 

Annam Vietnamese and Hillside suburban bliss

A couple of places I’ve reviewed for KNOW Wellington in recent months in case you missed them over there:

Annam – the re-model of Arbitrageur into a joint venture by Chris Green and Nam relocated from the Willis Street Village – French-influenced Vietnamese street food and cocktails in a funky casual Indochine setting. No bookings, expect to wave down a staff member when you need one, and enjoy true subtle-flavoured Vietnamese food  – check out the review here.

annam

Hillside Kitchen and Cellar on the corner of Tinakori Road and Hill Street – blackboard plates and a range of scones during the day, $55 or $65 set dinners at night with wine, craft beer or non-alcoholic drink matching options. Ever-changing, fresh and interesting, all outstanding, and much made in-house – check out the review here.

hillside

Apache – where Hanoi met Paris

So after I didn’t buy a bikini (who knew that was going to be such a traumatic experience?), I decided to pop into the new Apache in Wakefield Street for a Vietnamese lunch to recover.

It was a little past peak lunch hour and not too busy, but I was still pretty amazed when my fresh green papaya salad arrived about four minutes after I’d ordered it. Was this a good sign or not?

Apache intro

Actually it was all good. The salad had all the right ingredients (thinly shredded papaya and veggies, cherry tomatoes, chili peppers, lime, peanuts, dried shrimp, fish sauce, etc) and met the Vietnamese requirement of balancing sweet, spicy, salty and sour in each dish.

My ‘buffalo boy’ coconut gelato, kaffir lime and jackfruit smoothie arrived with nary a buffalo in sight and reminded me of drinking just-whipped vanilla instant pudding (don’t knock it til you try it), with only a subtle back note of coconut. Unexpected. But very moorish.

Apache lunch

Apache is Le Minh’s first restaurant after cheffing around Wellington for 10+ years in various South East Asian establishments. He grew up in northern Vietnam, influenced by past French occupation (hence the baguettes, pate and bitter chocolate mousse on the menu) and focused on fragrant, fresh and light food (as opposed to the more Chinese-influenced denser foods of southern Vietnam).

I practiced my talent for choosing the one dish not available by ordering the Sago Vanilla Pudding with caramelized banana and coconut praline and having the pear and ginger crumble from the cabinet (the bikini experience still fresh in mind, I bypassed the bitter chocolate mousse or pina colada with coconut ash mousse alternatives).  The crumble was superb and a steal at only $4 (but is this a survivable price point?).

Apache dessert

Le’s aim is to offer high quality northern fresh Vietnamese, hence the use of wagyu beef, free-range pork belly, fresh kaffir lime and lemongrass etc in the main dishes, and many fresh fruits and vegetables in the house-made juices, smoothies and afternoon tea sweets in the cabinet.

I’m going back soon (on a non-bikini shopping day) for the Sea Meets Land king fish – twice cooked pork belly with Viet slaw, blue ginger and dried chili caramel, and the Chasing Dragon cocktail.

Lunchtimes 7 days (and possibly some dinners once they’re settled in).

122 Wakefield Street.

PS. Now doing dinners Wednesday to Saturday.

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