A great way to greet the week
SET UP & SITE: I’m looking to start off the week with a few Brownie points by inviting my mum out to breakfast and I think I’ve succeeded. I’ve secured a companion for a Monday morning brekky and she’s taking the morning off to witness the rare spectacle of one of her kids footing the bill for her meal. It’s a win-win really. Hai Hello, a “fusion” eatery perched on a corner in the Remuera township, replaces the old Sierra cafe. It’s owned by the same family as the Thai Village Restaurant, located just a few hundred metres away. Hai Hello has tones of this influence — though we’re told the menu has wider Asian elements rather than just Thai. This makes for some interesting additions to the menu, including several matcha latte options (if you’re that way inclined) as well as a lychee smoothie. The cafe has a warm, almost homely feel to it. The counter is crowded with baking and the staff welcome us and offer a booth upon our arrival.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL: We dither over an extensive coffee menu — the place offers an array of Kokako cold brew coffees — before falling back on our go-to picks. My flat white is good and strong, though could be a little hotter. Mum’s latte is “great” - no complaints there. The menu is a mash-up of your usual suspects (“eggs your way on toast” or “smashed avocado on sourdough rye”) and a few more interesting picks, like the duck bao buns with hoisin sriracha sauce. I somehow escape this stage of the meal without the usual parent jokes (“you kids and your smashed avo”) and we order two plates to share: eggs bene on house-made kumara rosti with beetroot-cured salmon ($20.50), and the Hai baked granola. The granola is a great combination of flavours and textures. Roasted muesli and nuts are paired with fresh fruit (orange and strawberries) and dehydrated fruit (lychee and mandarin). There’s also a blueberry panna cotta which is great — not too sweet. The eggs bene is good, but not great. The eggs are a little runnier than we both would have liked, and the rosti perhaps a little undercooked. Despite this, Hai Hello gains back points for presentation. The salmon on the bene dish comes curled into a pretty little rose and the whole presentation of the granola is great.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF: The service was sufficiently attentive, but not overly so. Our coffees arrive promptly and our meals not too long after, but we do have to ask for water for the table. A conversation with a chatty manager informs us that they’re still playing around with the menu. Plans are in place to expand the fusion side of things, with creations like a satay panini. I can’t help but think of a certain politician — surely she’d approve? Hai Hello has been open about a month, and it comes across a little as a place still finding its feet. It’s good and, with a little more tinkering, it could be great.