Just when we think we’ve seen it all, the Auckland foodie scene continues to surprise us. One of the leading hot spots on the entire planet, things have turned up a whole new level with the opening of the world’s very first Pacific foods restaurant, Kai Pasifika.
Walking in, you’ll be greeted by a contagious smile from Hope Papli’i and a whiff of a masterpiece coming together in the kitchen. The eatery features a large and spacious fit-out that is cosy and laid back. You’ll soon be feeling right at home in and amongst the welcoming Kai Pasifika vibes.
The man behind it all is legendary chef, iconic award-winning author, tv-host and even TED talker, Robert Oliver. Working his magic, he’s delivered us a whole new world of culinary wonder. Raised in both Samoa and Fiji, Robert grew up surrounded by the best of Pacific culture. Inspired by the foods and teachings, he went on to publish award-winning cookbooks, Me’a Kai and Mea’ai Samoa. With support from chief operations officer Richard Hall and chief financial officer Kenina Court, Robert’s latest brilliant project has sprung to life in all its colourful splendour.
“I was playing around with the idea for about three years,” says Robert. “I wanted to make sure I’d found the perfect team.”
With every dish either directly inspired by, or containing Pacific-sourced ingredients, you can count on an authentic taste and experience. Robert, along with Chefs Bertrand Jang of Fiji and Lisa Murgatroyd of Vanuatu have crafted a menu so good, SO delicious you wouldn’t have seen it coming in your wildest dreams.
You don’t want to miss the moreish popcorn with a Pacific twist, tossed with coconut sugar, masala and virgin coconut oil, it’s the perfect snack to prep your belly for the feast of a lifetime. The Kokoda features Fijian-style seasonal ’raw’ fish topped with an outstanding coconut milk, it’s the fresh, light and creamy dish we know you’ll love.
Once it’s time for the mains, you’ll find yourself drooling for more. Robert’s top pick, the Ika Vakalolo, is a Fijian soul-food dish so fragrant and hearty it’s worth raving about. Comprised of imported fresh Fijian seasonal fish such as tuna and wahu, the dish does the island’s proud. Designed to share, you’ll find a giant portion of fish on a bed of greens topped with coconut. Chef Bertrand's top choice is the Sipi—rave-worthy lamb ribs served alongside Friend Fiji chutney.
Dessert at Kai Pasifika isn't just the last course, it’s the grand finale! Changing daily, the offerings will showcase sweet treats from across the islands, giving you every reason to come back for round two! We were lucky enough to have a taste of the Samoan pavlova. Topped with coconut and fresh fruits, the airy texture of the pav pairs so well with the deep chocolatey aroma of the Samoan Koko that you won’t be able to stop!
Don’t forget to treat yourself to a drink or two! The insane attention to detail has Kai Pasifika even putting an island twist on the classics. We’d recommend too-good-for-words gin and coconut water.
With a heart as big as their portions, Kai Pasifika aims to give back to its community. Shortly, they will offer internships for Pacific youth to learn, train and develop their skills in a culturally relevant environment. with the aim of developing Pacific cuisine's recognition on the market. One to keep tabs on, the lunch service launches on May 24th, and will be open seven days from June 1st.
A phenomenal worldwide first, Kai Pasifika brings the best of the Pacific to the table. Fast-tracked to become a staple classic on the foodie scene, your taste buds will thank you for a taste of the islands.