The Duo Behind Orphans Kitchen Are Opening A New Restaurant In Britomart

Tom Hishon and Josh Helm share the inspiration for their new restaurant Kingi

Tom Hishon and Josh Helm. Photo / Joe Hockley

It’s named after a fish, but it’s not a seafood restaurant. It’s part of a hotel for travellers, but it’s a restaurant for Aucklanders. 

It’s hard to draw out specific details about Tom Hishon and Josh Helm’s new restaurant, Kingi. It feels like a closely guarded secret, not because of any marketing strategy, but the men don’t want people to have preconceived ideas when the restaurant opens in October in Britomart. 

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“What's exciting is that it's happening, and we’ve got a timeline and it’s going to be amazing,” says Hishon. “There’ll be the hospitality that we do at Orphans, and we'll translate it down to Britomart.”

The friends, who are also behind Daily Bread, are confident their new eatery will speak for itself. Its name, Kingi, is about as revealing as it gets. An abbreviation or colloquial term for kingfish, it hints at a planned inclusion of line-caught local fish on the menu. That doesn’t mean it’s a seafood restaurant, but rather a nod to a much-loved hobby for many New Zealanders. 

“It’s about showcasing a certain cuisine that I really love in New Zealand,” says Tom. “And that’s looking more towards the ocean and just playing with things that everyday regular people -  New Zealanders - have and love and appreciate. And sharing that with the rest of the world.” 

Kingi is part of the development of The Hotel Britomart, a new brick-clad, 10-storey building designed by Cheshire Architects. The site was previously occupied by the pop-up bar, the Britomart Country Club. The restaurant will serve guests at the hotel and provide a room service menu, but the goal is to be a place for Aucklanders. 

“It’s supposed to be approachable and fun, and we want to have fun and create the vibe of something bustling, and a place that locals want to be at, as well as tourists,” says Helm. 

Tourists. That’s a slightly painful word in the current climate of Covid-19. Yet at a time when some hospitality businesses are unsure if they even have a future, Helm and Hishon are bucking the trend with an expansion. 

“You’ve got to keep redefining what you do and that's why we branched out and did Daily Bread,” says Helm. “If you stop and just stay doing what you're doing, you start falling backwards, then something like this happens and it could be all over.” 

Hishon says the marker of success at Kingi won’t be about the size of the queues to get in, but seeing regular faces. 

“If someones coming two, or three times a week, that's when you know you're doing something really good.”

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New Zealand Herald

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