Kai Pasi­fika

13.5/20 3 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton 09 309 3740, kaipasi­fika.com Lunch & din­ner 7 days Mains $28-$32

Cuisine - - RESTAURANTS -

It’s hard to deny that the food of our Pa­cific neigh­bours has had a pretty bad rap in this coun­try, and it’s to the credit of Robert Oliver, the Kiwi-born chef raised in Samoa and Fiji, that he’s do­ing his bit to show us that Pa­cific cuisines de­serve some re­spect.

Oliver’s crowd-fund­ing cam­paign to launch an Auck­land res­tau­rant that cel­e­brates South Pa­cific food fell short of its tar­get, but Kai Pasi­fika se­cured enough from pri­vate in­vestors to open in May this year, with Fi­jian chef Ber­trand Jang at the helm in the kitchen.

The Mt Eden Rd space was for­merly oc­cu­pied by seafood res­tau­rant Ika and be­fore that Ital­ian joint O’Sar­ra­cino. Orig­i­nally the chapel of a funeral home, it’s a tricky space to im­bue with much am­bi­ence, and on the night we dined we won­dered if it wasn’t in dan­ger of feel­ing, well, a bit fu­ne­real.

Granted, it was a rainy night early in the week, so it was on the quiet side, but the largely bare white walls – which, ad­mit­tedly, avoid kitsch and cliché – were cry­ing out for some colour and fun. We’ve heard ru­mours a mu­ral is in the works, so let’s hope it comes to fruition.

The menu, which spans the South Pa­cific, is prob­a­bly the most veg­e­tar­i­a­nun­friendly I’ve en­coun­tered in a while, with not a sin­gle meat- or fish-free dish among the mains, and only the KP pop­corn and daily soup that sounded po­ten­tially vego on the en­tree list. Pre­sum­ably plant-based eaters would be limited to those two and some sides if they didn’t want to go hun­gry – and we did love the is­land fries with mango mayo and the salty, gin­gery mush­room sapa­sui (Samoan chop suey).

My din­ing com­pan­ion and I both opted for raw fish starters, with Fi­jian kokoda and the on-trend Hawai­ian

RIGHT The kokoda at Kai Pasi­fika BE­LOW Kai Pasi­fika’s raw sal­mon poke and the din­ing room

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.