There are SO many delicious Asian places around town it would be hard to get through them all. I’ve made a wee note of some of my favourites (some more authentic than fusion) that I would recommend form the basis of any must-eat-at list!
Apache’s slogan ‘When Hanoi met Paris’ is pretty accurate in this particular instance. The inside is elegant, light and spacious. The menu is fresh and healthy, with crisp Vietnamese flavours slicing through each and every dish. The traditional Vietnamese coffee is a firm favourite along with the Bang Bang Salad (mango, chicken and cashew salad). I also like the popcorn chicken and squid and, as far as Asian desserts go these guys do it well. The service here is fantastic – it is a restaurant I would have no hesitation recommending.
I was a little bit skeptical of Mr Go’s due to its bold green and pink décor. However, it came to me highly recommended and so I was keen to give it a try. Most of the plates are small to medium sized, ideal for sharing with friends. There is a great selection of beer available (as well as wine and cider). Unlike me, I was not a fan of the squid, however the popcorn chicken and popcorn cauliflower were delicious, as was the bao. Not too expensive, so trying a range of dishes (which admittedly can be hit and miss) is definitely the way to go. With its quick service, it is a good addition to Wellington’s culinary scene.
As a massive lover of both Mr Go’s and Chow, I was always destined to be a fan of The Old Quarter. Drawing its name from Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the menu is exciting, innovative and certainly ‘modern’ Vietnamese. The chef has come from 16 years at Chow, so you can expect food of a similar nature: fresh, funky and delicious. The menu is broken up into sections (bao, curries, salads etc) and cost between $14 and $20 for the most part. The bao is a must have; it’s a great place to try soft shell crab if you aren’t already a fan.
Thai Tara is only a stone’s throw away from Wellington’s main drag (that is, Cuba) meaning it is more often quiet, although the food is still delicious. The roti is right up there with the best roti ever, and the Pad Thai is pretty darn authentic. Everything on the menu is really cheap and there are some more ‘Kiwi’ options making it quite family friendly. A good spot for cheap takeaways or a casual dinner.
Istana Malaysia is somewhere that often slips my mind, until people are calling for BYO options for large groups. Ironically, my favourite dining experiences there have never been at a BYO. The mains are pricey enough that I prefer to be sober (between $18 and $23) and the place is so big that it almost doesn’t have the right ambiance for a BYO anyway. It has an element of class that a lot of other Asian restaurants miss. The roti is sensational (I always judge a place on its roti) and the mi goring certainly went down a treat. It’s cheap and casual overall, but a definite step up from some of its comparators.
Restaurant 88 does Vietnam proud. The food is classy, authentic and delicious and the decor meets a similar standard. Expect traditional welcoming Asian service from the moment you arrive until you leave. The meals are all very filling – our table couldn’t finish off its food. The drinks menu is also impressive. It features in the Entertainment Book, buying one and getting one free makes this place an absolute steal.
Chow is Asian fusion of all kinds. With plates designed to be shared, the menu is fresh and exciting with loads of tasty options. The yellow curry is a real standout (I am actually lucky to have their recipe on my blog!) as are the dumplings and cocktails. Mondays are a real bargain with 2 for 1 mains; Wednesdays and Saturdays also have 2 for 1 cocktail deals. It can get a bit pricey otherwise, but I can still vouch that your experience will be a pleasant one.