Where to Go: Kai Pasifika
Celebrity chef Robert Oliver has opened Auckland's first Pacific Island restaurant
It seems remarkable that the doors have only just opened to New Zealand's first-ever Pacific Island restaurant, realising a long-held dream of celebrity chef Robert Oliver.
You'll find Kai Pasifika at the top of Mt Eden Rd in the building most recently occupied by Ika. It's a casual space that gives little hint to the fine-dining dishes emerging from its kitchen — think New Zealand greens dressed in organic virgin coconut oil and passionfruit, and roast pork (Pua’a Samoa, pictured) cleverly smoked to depict hints of a hangi before being finished with a mole-like Koko Samoa glaze of chocolate, coffee, pepper and berries.
Dishes either have their origin in the islands or in native ingredients, such as the cocoa and coconut oil produced by a group of organic farmers in Samoa known as the Women of Business Development, while others — like the KFC or Kaiviti Fried Chicken — are more tongue-in-cheek, Robert says.
The flavours front and centre here will likely be familiar to those partial to an island vacation or two, however, it’s the way that they’ve been interpreted, refined to suit the urban patron, that will get diners talking.
Robert is hoping the restaurant will set off a culinary chain reaction. “I’m really hoping that we inspire other Pacific entrepreneurs to jump into the food space too.”
• Kai Pasifika is at 3 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden. Open seven days, 6pm-10pm. Bookings available, walk-ins welcome.