Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Kim Knight

Aca­demics claim that when teenagers eat din­ner with their fam­i­lies, they get bet­ter marks at school and are less likely to get drunk be­fore the ball or busted sell­ing pot by the sci­ence lab. Pos­si­bly the aca­demics worded it more for­mally, but you get the pic­ture: fam­i­lies who eat to­gether talk to­gether. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is ev­ery­thing.

I’m re­search­ing fam­ily meal­times be­cause the sto­ries in this week’s Can­vas have a com­mon thread. It’s the “fam­ily is­sue” and it has been brought to my at­ten­tion that I for­got to in­clude chil­dren. What do the lit­tle bug­gers even eat?

Kage has a kids’ menu. For $14 you get dessert of the day and a main. Choose from a clas­sic beef burger, chicken ten­ders, ju­nior bar­be­cue pork ribs and a mini chicken roti with peanut sauce. You’re not in pro­vin­cial NZ (circa 1976) now, kids.

In these gas­tro­nom­i­cally-in­clined times, chil­dren’s menus have fallen out of favour. Ac­cord­ing to one ar­gu­ment, the lit­tle bug­gers should broaden their palates early and learn to eat like adults. I’m not con­vinced. Six-year-old me would have loved the idea of a list specif­i­cally for my pe­rusal. She would have or­dered the mince and cheese pie, please and thank you. Some­thing with chips and a traf­fic-light drink. Ac­tu­ally, 48-year-old me is also com­fort­able with this.

“Would the beer-bat­tered fries be too much?” I asked the wait­per­son.

“Hon­estly?” he said. And then he no­ticed our crest­fallen faces. “Why don’t I do you a half por­tion?”

I was din­ing with a fam­ily of sorts. No one at this ta­ble was born in Auck­land and one of us was not born in New Zealand. An age-and-stage whanau forged from workplace whines (and af­ter- workplace wines). This is the fam­ily you choose, not in­herit.

We chose the pinot gris. I have heard very good things about Kage’s cock­tails and I think that might be where this restau­rant’s fu­ture lies — tasty street foods and drinks star­ring mango. It’s a place you might visit be­fore a game (Eden Park is just across the walk­way), with your work­mates, or any other group with broad tastes.

For my money, the best thing we ate were the grilled chilli pa­neer and pep­per skew­ers ($16 for two). The curd was firm and smoky, the cap­sicum plen­ti­ful and the heat level higher than I had an­tic­i­pated. The dish comes with yo­ghurt and salad and oc­cu­pies a rarely ex­plored space be­tween bar food and yes Mum, I am get­ting enough vege.

Con­tinue the theme with an ac­tual salad. We or­dered hal­loumi ($18) and we shouldn’t have — de­li­cious, but def­i­nitely on the Mid­dle East­ern flavour spec­trum, which didn’t match other choices.

My ad­vice to fu­ture din­ers: Pick a des­ti­na­tion and stay there. The curry, for ex­am­ple, was Malaysian beef ($24). It came with co­conut rice that had seen bet­ter days but there was a bonus crumbed and deep-fried egg with a still-molten yolk that was the brunch dish you didn’t know you were wait­ing to find.

We’d started with soft-shell crab bao, which proved di­vi­sive although not lit­er­ally. Af­ter some

con­vinc­ing, the wait­per­son did agree to add a third bun to Kage’s usual $17 two-piece of­fer­ing. Flavour­wise I thought it was too salt-and-pep­pery, but the rest of the ta­ble loved it.

Asian street food is ubiq­ui­tous but one dish you don’t find quite as of­ten as dumplings, bao and bahn mi, is the luxed-up roti canai. Think szechuan duck, charred egg­plant, and sumac chicken. Ev­ery­thing at Kage was piled with fresh, crisp sal­ads and slaws and the roti was no ex­cep­tion.

The duck was, ac­tu­ally, a lit­tle sweet for my palate but when it comes to pas­try, I’d eat this flaky Malaysian num­ber over an old-school mince and cheese any day. Mod­ern fam­i­lies don’t know how gas­tro­nom­i­cally lucky they’ve got it.

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