Pa­cific-Asian fu­sion finds flavour

Fare fits niche in lo­cal scene

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS -

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.

At­mos­phere:

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.

Food:

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.

Ser­vice:

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.

Ver­dict:

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.

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