Around the World in 80 Restaurants
One of the best things about going on holiday is getting to try exotic new foods, but for the owners of passports gathering dust this summer, Cityscape is charting an international culinary adventure without leaving the city. Join us for an intercontinental tour to treat the taste buds as we traverse through Christchurch’s finest examples of international cuisine.
From bangers and mash in the West to the thousand-year-old tradition of shchi (Russian cabbage soup) in the East, European cuisine is as diverse as the different cultures of the more than 50 countries in the continent. While countless French and Italian staples in particular have, of course, become favourites all over the world, a host of other European nations have given one or more famously and epically tasty gifts to the globe.
Baretta Describing itself as “a little piece of Italy in Christchurch”, Baretta offers an air of European sophistication in addition to its range of Italian food favourites. Try their take on chicken cacciatore, kicked up a notch with crispy parmesan polenta and braised greens and washed down with an icy Peroni from the tap (natch) or premium Italian red.
Casa Nostra Priding themselves on great service and cultural flair, Casa Nostra rocks authentic Italian food in a family-friendly atmosphere. No visit is complete without trying one of their schiacciata, hand-stretched Tuscan flatbreads loaded with toppings. The splendida, with chicken meatballs, eggplant, pecorino cheese, zucchini, rocket, and cherry tomatoes, is life-changing, so bib up!
Café Valentino An institution on the Christchurch dining scene, Café Valentino have got something for every palate on their tricked-up menu of homemade Italian goodness, including pizzas from their wood-fired oven. But it’s hard to overlook their epic veal parmigano – crumbed Southland veal escallops panfried and topped with napoletana sauce and mozzarella, served with rosemary roasted potatoes and buttered spinach – bellissimo!
Cocopelli Gourmet Pizza Bar Summer Sunday arvo stunner cosy Cocopelli combines a sunny outdoor area with some serious gourmet pizza credentials (gotta love 'Yes, Dear’s' (sic) pan-seared venison with a blueberry and port sauce, red onions, capsicums and the kicker – blue cheese!), while their new summer menu addition Supremo is an oven-baked chicken breast, stuffed with chorizo and herb cream cheese and wrapped in free range bacon – ‘nuff said!
Freemans Dining Room, Bar & Deck Freeman’s are big on making people feel welcome; this and their hearty, Italian-inspired food keeps people coming back. The views from that magnificent deck and live music on Sunday afternoons don’t hurt either! Minutes from the city in portside Lyttelton, their made-from-scratch pastas and authentically Italian hand-stretched style pizza are where it’s at.
The Curator’s House Situated in the leafy surrounds of the Botanic Gardens, The Curator’s House’s primo Spanish fixin’s will have you seeing estrellas. Memorable tapas (many incorporating their own award winning smallgoods brand, Chorizos Garcia) are a specialty, but for a truly iconic taste of Spain hit up their traditional house speciality paella mixta comprising sofrito, Spanish saffron, wild prawns, diamond back clams, tuatuas, calamari, green-lipped mussels and calasparra rice, served the old-style way in its own pan.
Nando’s Nando’s emerged out of South Africa, and carved a name for themselves with their use of a traditional Mozambican ingredient, but the secret of their success is their Portuguese version of peri-peri sauce, brought back to Europe from Africa by 15th century visitors. Indulge in the epic flavour hit of their Portuguese chicken skewers, on which thigh fillets marinated in the sensational, hot-tangy peri peri (or African Bird’s Eye chilli) are skewered with fresh red capsicum and onion and flame grilled to perfection.
Trevinos Restaurant & Bar With an epic beer garden, live music and spacious dining room serving fine Mediterranean fusion, Trevinos is a Riccarton Road stalwart. Take on the aptly-titled Cypriot salad marrying grilled halloumi, plump kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes nestled on a bed of fresh baby spinach and topped with roast beets, chickpeas, and Greek yoghurt – you had us at grilled halloumi – or the harissa and cumin marinated chargrilled chicken; both are excellent choices!
Strawberry Fare Combining the influences of Italy, France and … Scandinavia (courtesy of their totally boss home cured salmon gravlax!) Strawberry Fare is rightly famous for its primo desserts, but there’s a reason their exceptional duck confit of slow-cooked duck leg, parsley butter, jus, thyme-roasted potatoes, and fresh buttered green beans has achieved cult status on the Christchurch dining scene – you owe it to your taste buds to eat it!
The Little Bistro Technically outside of Christchurch, Akaroa’s pride and joy The Little Bistro rocks a traditional menu with a modern twist and is definitely worth the (let’s face it) short trip. Sample the French-infused ham hock and truffle terrine stepped up with an Akaroa feijoa chutney or eat yourself happy with the braised beef short rib with truffle and marrow bone pudding.
The Cornershop Bistro This Euro-influenced Sumner bistro under multi-award winning chef Rod Cross has a solid reputation for bangin’ brunches (think primo eggs bene and brioche French toast) and a dinner menu that boasts the now famous Cornershop coq au vin and an out-of-this-world fried pork belly.
Twenty Seven Steps Rustic European inspired cuisine using fresh, locally sourced ingredients are the order of the day in the cosy and intimate Twenty Seven Steps. We’re lovin’ the butter roasted fish with chorizo, spiced lentils and silken mash, and does a dessert get better than Tanqueray gin-stewed blackberries with savioardi and bay leaf custard? No!
Café Prague Mixing things up, Addington must-try Café Prague takes its influence from Central Europe with its bohemian breakfast of bramborák (potato pancakes), spinach, bacon and eggs and their unmissable corned beef hash with poached egg for lunch – Czech mate!
Other European eateries include Milanese and Tutto Bene (Italy), Saint Germain and Saggio Di Vino (France), Belgian Beer Café Torenhof (Belgium), Van Dam’s Café (The Netherlands) and Costa’s Taverna, Dimitri’s and Mythos Greek Souvlaki (Greece).
Large enough to develop numerous regional styles of cuisine within its own borders, the US has developed a reputation for food with big, bold flavours (and often equally big servings!). With an overall attitude that could be summarised as “if it tastes good, do it”, American culinary exports the likes of New York-style steak, Creole/Cajun dishes, the southern border Mexi-American mash-up of the Tex-Mex school, the larger-than-life tradition of Texan BBQ, and American-style cooked breakfasts are popular the world over.USA
Boo Radley’s Food & Liquor A relaxed late night venue with a speakeasy vibe, Boo Radley’s sharing plates take their inspiration from the cuisine of the American South (the Harper Lee-esque name’s a dead giveaway). You’ll want to share several around; to make sure you go authentically Cajun, tuck into the Lowcountry seafood gumbo with soft-shell crab and ‘Hoppin’ John’ (a traditional southern rice dish) – laissez les bons temps rouler!
New York Deli Holding out for a hero? Then you need to tap the gigantic proportions of New York Deli’s legendary premium sandwiches. You’ll want to try the spice-rubbed flank steak bounty of Harlem flank and the presidentially-titled Obama BLT – streaky bacon goodness with prerequisite American mustard.
Orleans Set amid Christchurch’s ragin’ Cajun quarter (Strange’s Lane) Orleans channels some serious Bourbon Street swagger. Hearty Creole soul food is the order of the day – you’ll want to be ordering up the complete jerk chicken. Make sure you’re not dining alone when you tackle this whole jerk-spice marinated free-range chicken, split flat, chargrilled to perfection and served with burnt avocado and tomatillo salsa.
Burgers and Beers Inc. American-style diner and Kiwiana collide in this revolutionary bastion of bodacious burgers. It’s like walking onto the set of Natural Born Killers sans all the murder – bitchin’ Munsters-esque art joins classic Kiwi formica tables and quite possibly the city’s best burger, the aptly named Super Bugger Burger. You’ll be wanting to try the epic chips and gravy and to wash it down with an icy Three Boys golden ale (when in Rome).
Gas Monkey Playing on the primate theme, while this quirky Tex-Mex American grill is literally teeming with monkey business via simian sculptures, images and object d’art, it boasts an impressive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with a devoted milkshake section that includes the magnificent creation that is the Joy Bar in shake form(!). But you came here to eat, so you’ll wanna hit up menu highlight pineapple-braised pork belly with apple brandy caramel.
Bloody Mary’s A classic, New York style steakhouse experience right here in Christchurch, Bloody Mary’s is a brooding, sophisticated space of dark oak and buttery leather where they take steaks very seriously (along with Bloody Marys!). Discover this for yourself by ordering the Hereford prime 50-day aged, grass finished, 500g New York strip loin, and melt into meat-lover’s heaven.
Other US-of-A offerings include Drexels, Bootleg BBQ, and Lower 9th Diner.
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA
The fiery spices and tang of Latin American food are unmistakable. Maize is the staple ingredient in the region, but its uses are as diverse as the continent itself – everything from tortillas to tacos, Colombian and Venezuelan arepas to Salvadorian pupusas – and the piquant spices and salsas of the region such such as guacamole, pico de gallio, mole, chili and many more have become foodie favourites the world over.
Alvarado’s Mexican Cantina Alvarado’s have achieved legendary status in the city as a go-to spot for authentic Mexican cuisine. Now located in Waltham post-quakes, they’re still banging out a line-up of Mexican food’s greatest hits, authentically prepared by Mexican chefs. Peruse their new menu to find the chiles rellenos; oh-so-Mexican stuffed chilli peppers with red salsa and grilled cheese and your choice of filling – deliciously fiesty.
Mexicano’s Serving up fine Mexican street food served in stylish surrounds with an emphasis on fun, Mexicano’s is always a great dinner option – provided you’re able to get a table (book early!). Their authentic Mexican dishes are designed for sharing, but if you’re anything like us, it will be difficult to prise the fire-grilled chicken and chorizo sticks with pickled red onion in xlapa-style peanut mole sauce away from you!
Mexico With its Tarantino-cool fit-out and buzzing atmosphere finished off with hip and friendly staff and an authentic south-of-the-border soundtrack, Mexico offers fresh and feisty Mexican fare and a laidback vibe. The taco options are definitely worth sampling (think smoky beef skirt with blackened onion and pork crackling or grilled chicken, crunchy slaw and piquant green tomato salsa), and save room for dessert – you’ll want to try their take on classic Mexican churros!
Casa Publica A rum-flavoured ode to the South America of years gone by, Casa Publica has a kitchen that turns out a range of options to satisfy any palate, offering the unique flavours of the continent. You get plenty of these on one plate with the pollo a la parrilla – grilled chicken with fried red quinoa, onions, garlic, kernel corn, capsicum, chili sauce and guacamole verde – and the choc rum shot finale is not to be missed!
Tequila Mockingbird A contemporary Latin fusion bar, restaurant and later, hot party venue, Tequila Mockingbird offers dishes inspired by the food of Brazil, Chile, Peru, the Caribbean islands and then some – a great place to start is the churrasco style skirt steak, which takes Argentina’s most celebrated beef cut, treats it to a bath in their own mojo marinade and serves it up with lemon and addictive patatas bravas.
The Cuban With the aim of bringing a slice of Havana to the central city, The Cuban is another new city venue where rum is taken extremely seriously, and specially-brewed-for-the-venue Cuban Laga flows from militia-style machine gun beer taps. Tasty Cuban street food with a kick is the order of the day: tap divine popcorn w/ chocolate and bangin’ Arroz Imperial (feisty Achiote chicken with cheese and mayo on rice).
Add to the Latin American mix Mexicali Fresh and upcoming Churrasco BBQ Brazil.
Somewhat unfairly neglected by much of the rest of the world for a long time, Africa’s cuisine has more recently grabbed some of the increased attention it has always deserved within the international culinary scene. The traditional North African flavours of Morocco, Egypt and Algeria in particular are now well known and appreciated by foodies all over the world, but the considerable regional varieties of the rest of the vast, culturally diverse landmass are also increasingly finding their way onto menus elsewhere around the world, from Mozambique’s (via Portugal) piri piri chicken to South African biltong, East Africa’s kachumbari and West Africa’s jollof rice.
Taste of Egypt Taste of Egypt brims with authentic Egyptian flavours with a twist and utilises locally-sourced and seasonably available produce. Owner-chef Saeed makes a biennial trip back to the home country to refresh his skills and update his knowledge of the Egyptian food scene. Tap their triple lamb souvlaki with feta, hot chilli, humus, tahini, tzatziki and Turkish salad and become a convert after one bite.
Continue your African adventure at Mosaic By Simo and Casbah.
The delectable curries of the subcontinent, the fiery heat, big flavours and sensational sauces of the Southeast, the succulent seafood of Japan, the stuffed vegetables and grilled meats of the Middle East, and the huge regional variations of China – Asia offers massive variety in its cuisine. Ginger, garlic, chilli, soy and sesame oil are common themes, while rice and noodle dishes in a mind-boggling array of varieties satisfy as well as inspire.
Persian Kitchen With everything cooked on site and following traditional family recipes, Persian Kitchen marries the exotic and colourful flavours of ancient Persian and Turkish cuisine with an authentic dining experience. It’s all about tender meat cooked to perfection with a unique mix of spices. Their Beef Bursa is a great go-to – their own special shaved, minced beef atop pita bread with crispy garlic croutons, Greek yoghurt, bursa sauce and a seasonal salad.
Ancestral Firmly established at the bottom end of Riccarton Road, Ancestral offer authentic and traditional Sichuan and Malaysian Chinese food and Asian favourite beverage bubble teas. Hook into their Tang’s Emperor Pork – thinly sliced pork sizzled in the wok and drizzled with a mouth-watering rich, sweet sauce that’s prepared according to a secret Hong Kong family recipe – in between warbling out some hits with friends in their specialty karaoke rooms.
Chi Kitchen Within the Christchurch Casino you’ll find a range of tempting food options, but we always find it tough to go past the Cantonese-inspired genius of Chi Kitchen, where noodles, dumplings and stir-fries straight from the wok are whipped up for hungry diners eagerly waiting in their Guangzhou-chic, minimalist space. It’s tough to go wrong on the menu, and you won’t with the Yangzhou fried rice with prawns and BBQ pork.
Madam Kwong’s The city’s home of Chinese food on a grand scale, the wide open dining room of Madam Kwong’s recalls the bustling dining establishments of Shanghai and Hong Kong. Lunch is all about Yum Cha, where the tasty morsels are served in bamboo steamers, while traditional Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine is cranked out under glittering chandeliers by night – don’t leave without trying the chef’s special tricked-up kung pao chicken.
Chong’s Tucked away in Cathedral Junction, Chong’s offers a traditional Chinese dining experience unique in the South Island (or so we’re told). You can try a unique line-up that includes Chinese BBQ, seafood, and cook-at-your-table Chinese hotpot/steamboat, where your raw meat and vegetable selections are brought your table for you to cook in your own steaming choice of broth – keep things real with the chilli laden hot and spicy number.
Little Taipei This Papanui hot spot combines an authentic fitout with a traditional Taiwanese menu that rocks a tantalising mix of the classic mild, sweet and savoury flavours of the island. Broaden your culinary horizons with a bubble tea or a Taiwanese fruit-flavoured beer (mango beer anyone?) alongside one of their authentic street food dishes such as the Taiwanese-style pork chop with black pepper sauce, noodles and egg, and grab some homemade pork floss for the pantry.
Zenbu A trendy, casual Japanese joint with an emphasis on izakaya (bar-style) food, Zenbu has lent its signature quirk to some tasty variations on Japanese cuisine classics. Their jacked-up variations on Japanese-style fried chicken should come with an addiction warning – get into the aptly-named garlic bomb with garlic confit and garlic crisps or turn up the heat with the chili chili bang bang!
Yamagen Japanese Restaurant One of the city’s preeminent Japanese restaurants, Yamagen’s tradition harks back to the Park Royal days, and maintains a sense of occasion today. Those looking to embrace new flavours should try the kani karaage (crispy tempura crab) and, if a celebration is in order, the crayfish sashimi.
Tomi Japanese Restaurant Making your way into the pleasant, calm, and wood-featuring interior of Tomi Japanese Restaurant is a prelude to a fantastic, traditional Japanese feast (even Prime Minister John Key thinks so!). They feature a premium sake range among the best available anywhere; ask the knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff about which is the best drop to match with their bodacious whole fish sashimi platter or grilled miso white fish with marinated vegetables.
Kumo Ushering in a welcome return of the sushi train concept to the city, Kumo lets you park up alongside the conveyor in their contemporary interior and take your pick of their traditional sushi and yakitori dishes and fusion mash-ups. Ensure in particular you grab the angry scallop roll as soon as it comes past – it’s a one-lap wonder!
Sakura Dedicated to converting those not too fussed on Japanese food into true believers, the team at Church Corner will hit you up on all sides; a relaxing, welcoming environment, the izakaya snack menu, and sake from Japan … and there’s simply no resisting when they serve up the likes of their deep fried sesame salmon and grilled scallops and the melt-in-the-mouth pork belly – just give in already!
Cookai You’ll find this Japanese fave tucked down a Riccarton side street serving authentic Japanese food in slick surrounds. Their emphasis is on traditional Japanese favourites like soft-shell crab, teppanyaki, sushi, and crispy tempura chicken with lemon soy sauce. Can’t decide? The pan-fried salmon with sweet miso sauce brings it on so many levels!
Cookai Gold The funky Papanui spin-off of the Cookai mothership, Cookai Gold throws out inventive Japanese creations and modern twists on traditional Japanese cuisine. Get into former SalaSala chef Toshi Uenosono’s Zensai menu for the Japanese take on the oh-so-hot tapas trend and tasty, inventive morsels such as aonori potatoes and soft-shell crab deep fried in an Asahi beer batter, and served with their own special sauce.
Arjee Bhajee It’s Indian, but perhaps not as you’ve had it before; Arjee Bhajee mixes things up with Northern Indian dishes, Nepali variations and Euro-Fusion curries and, above all, a healthy approach. Trust us: you need to order some of the justifiably eponymous bhajees here as a warm-up to your gurkhali chicken – a rockin’ Nepali curry with capsicum, broccoli and chillies.
Coriander’s Ethnic Indian Restaurant With their consistent commitment to great service and authentic, piquant flavours, one of Coriander’s five locations is an excellent choice for a killer Indian banquet. You can’t really go wrong on the menu, but you’ll definitely want to check out the chef’s special sizzling tandoori platter, with lamb, chicken and fish tikka served smokin’ hot at your table – so good with classic house cocktail the Sassy Lassi!
Hello Vietnam Traditional Vietnamese cuisine is done properly at Hello Vietnam, where fresh, feisty and wildly authentic are the themes. It’s often packed to the gills – if you can squeeze in you’ll want to pop open your chosen BYO and relax over the likes of the melt-in-the-mouth delicious Vietnamese braised caramel pork belly and eggs on steamed rice and the kicking spicy crispy squid.
Aroy Thai Taking the freshest local ingredients and magicing them into authentic Thai taste sensations, Aroy Thai have won many dedicated fans. Their speciality Choo Chee curry is a thick, rich flavour sensation with the option of including either prawns or deep fried monkfish fillets – either way it’s a win/win. The Thai omelette’s not too shabby either.
Hammersley’s Thai & Chang Thai These sister restaurants in Shirley (Hammersley’s) and Hornby (Chang) offer different characters but the same commitment to awesome Thai food. Hook yourself up with the gang bpa/jungle curry (hot and spicy!) or gang massaman (the classic South Thailand curry of meat and potatoes in a rich, gentle curry sauce with crushed peanuts) at either joint, and enjoy!
Keo Thai This wildly popular Thai restaurant rocks some serious cuisine credentials along with a leafy courtyard perfect for al fresco dining. The buzzing vibe is especially suited to catching up with friends and sharing exotic specialties like the fiery pad ki maw’s mixed seafood kicked up with chilli, garlic, basil and fresh Thai herbs. If it’s a larger group, you’ll need two gaeh pad cha – a tender lamb harmony of basil, green peppercorns and kafir lime.
NZ Thai Restaurant NZ Thai Restaurant has one simple goal; they want you to eat, drink and be merry, and a ‘merry’ status is pretty simple to achieve once you get into the eating they offer! Traditional Thai dishes span garee puffs to massaman curry, but you need to try the fresh, herb-filled chicken larb tingling with chilli and citrus before basking in the glory of the roasted duck red curry – you’ll be back!
Red Elephant For the Thai food faithful, the long-established and popular Red Elephant offers authentic Thai cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Seafood lovers will find it hard to resist the house specialty the Yum Red Elephant – with shing-shang fish, cashew, deep-fried prawns, fish fillet, squid, and mussel with Thai salad ingredients, it’s appropriately named and well-earned!
Chinwag Much-loved for its superb expression of Thai cuisine, the brooding, sleek interior of its new post-quake digs, and its ability to bang out some sensational cocktails, Chinwag opens a local door to Thailand and all of its accompanying delights. For an awesomely authentic (and delicious!) Thai food experience, go for the market fish with green curry, cooked in a banana leaf over hot coals – boom!
Duo Dining Room Styling themselves as ‘modern Asian’, Duo takes an innovative approach to its food that combines the best traditions and flavours of Asia and Europe in a unique dining experience, set off perfectly by its funky interior, splashed with vibrant original street art. The MUST order is the crispy eggplant, with fragrant Sichuan sticky sauce, coriander and pickled ginger – you can thank us later!
King of Snake King of Snake’s sexy, casual atmosphere somewhat belies just how seriously they take killer Asian food – Southeast Asian, in particular. It’s a regular on lists of the city’s best dining spots for a reason! Try the Korean-inspired ssäm – marinated Wakanui sirloin, kimchi puree, spring onion relish, and rice mayo all wrapped up with 4 fresh oysters – they’re optional, but you’ll wanna take that option!
Fusion @ The Asiatique Home to the flavours of Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, Fusion @ The Asiatique offers traditional classics as well as their own unique twists on Asian favourites amongst lovely French-Asian décor (or take away to enjoy at home!). There are so many tempting choices on the menu (not to mention specials); the crispy chicken with fresh mango salad and chili served with sticky rice is tough to beat, though.
Keep the party going at Topkapi and Afghan Restaurant (Middle East), Daphne’s, Red Bowl, Pot Sticker on Poplar and Joyful (China), Everest Indian Restaurant, Little India, Mayur Indian Restaurant (India), Nobanno (Bangladesh), Ceylon Kitchen (Sri Lanka), At Tony’s, Samurai Bowl, and Sakimoto (Japan), Malaysia Delights (Malaysia), The Bhodi Tree and Rangoon Ruby (Myanmar), Little Saigon Restaurant and MyHanh (Vietnam), Spice Paragon and Abalone Thai (Thailand).
DOMESTIC DINING AND MENUS WITHOUR BORDERS
Feeling in need of the familiar comforts of home, or don’t know what you want until you get there? These menu mash-ups take their inspiration globally.
Enjoy delicious pub-style classics and favourites done right in a relaxed atmosphere in the city at Fox and Ferret, Irish-themed classics at The Craic and Sullivans and hearty goodness at Valley Inn Tavern, The Pedal Pusher, Morrell & Co., The Brickworks, Cargo Bar, Kaizuka Eatery, Pomeroys, O Shea’s Public House, Castrols Garage, Vespa and Mama Hooch. Skip over the hills to check out the Euro fusion tapa stylings of Civil & Naval in Lyttelton and the primo gastro-pub fare at Governors Bay Hotel. There’s more international dining with a range of influences at Clink, Stellar, JDV, Passengers & Co. and Town Tonic, One Good Horse, Fiddlesticks, No. 4, Local. At Riccarton House, and the small plates and sharing platters of Dragon’s Den Social Lounge. Head out west for the rustic offerings of Terrace Winebar and Restaurant and Oaks of Darfield. For great steaks tap The Villas or The Carlton, and for cafés rocking that casual vibe and good food by night try Rocksalt, Under the Red Verandah, Harvard Bar & Café, GBC, and the rebranded Rough Diamond Café & Bar over at Diamond Harbour.