Pacific-Asian fusion finds flavour
Fare fits niche in local scene
Blue Kanu opened at the start of winter, billed as a vibrant collision of Asian and Polynesian cuisine. Experienced restaurateurs Grant and Karen Hattaway, who run Pier 19 and Captains, decided to try a new concept, Polynasia, celebrating Maori, South Pacific and modern Asian cuisine.
Blue Kanu, in premises formerly occupied by a French restaurant, is warm, inviting and colourful. Roughly divided into three spaces, diners can choose from tables with street views, bar seats or cushioned booths. Down the far end is a large fire, if you want to toast yourself while you eat and drink. We went for a booth and spent a couple of hours grazing on fresh seafood.
Delicious, well-presented fare with lots of flavours and spicy tang. The menu is a share affair. We chose crispy Szechuan squid with mung bean salad ($16) and steamed prawn, pork and lap cheong dumplings with black rice vinegar ($14) for entrees. Our mains were tuna tatake with wasabe edamame puree ($29), wokfried clams ($29) and Asian greens ($9).
The entrees were zesty with a fiery kick. The prawn and pork worked really well with the vinegar dip and the mung bean salad had an amazing chilli punch. The squid was certainly crispy and tasty but we thought it was a little lacking in flavour and could have benefited from less cooking time.
The mains were excellent, Asianinfluenced with hints of chilli and fresh coriander.
The standout dish of the night was the tuna tatake – four tender chunks of tuna, seared in sesame and served with lightly tangy wasabe dollops and edamame beans on the side. The tuna was perfectly seared, soft as butter and so tender there was no need for a knife.
Large wok-fried clams arrived in a deep dish with a fantastic spicy broth, bite-sized chunks of chorizo, chilli and salad. The side of Asian greens was appetising, tossed with soy and a hint of chilli.
Friendly, informative and colourful staff. Wait staff explained the menu as a share affair, talked us through some of the wine options and the spice factor of any dishes with chilli. The menu is divided into two sections: Little dish and Big dish, a no-fuss approach to choice that made a change from occasionally over-loaded menus.
Throughout the meal, staff checked that we were OK, topping up water and replacing drinks.
An original addition to Queenstown’s restaurant scene. The resort has an abundance of restaurants and it’s not easy to find a niche or a formula that keeps people coming back for more. Blue Kanu has interesting, flavourfilled, zesty food in inviting surroundings. We could have spent much longer grazing in our corner booth but had to go elsewhere. The bill for two including drinks was $150.
Succulent: The seafood spread at Blue Kanu.
Tempting: Crispy Szechuan squid.