New Zealand’s top restaurants for 2019 named

New Zealand's top restaurants battled it out at the Cuisine Good Food Awards last week, with an Auckland restaurant winning the top honours from a list of 100 of the country’s best eateries.

Monique Fiso of Hiakai in Wellington

Sidart – a contemporary Indian restaurant based in Ponsonby, Auckland – was crowned Restaurant of the Year by the popular food and wine magazine.

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett said Sidart's menu combined progressive Indian flavours with New Zealand ingredients to "deliver the very essence of New Zealand on the plate".

"Sidart has become a restaurant that we can proudly showcase to the rest of the world as Aotearoa's very best”.

She also noted the emergence of more specialty restaurants dedicated to telling a particular story of history and culture through their food.

One such example is Hiakai in Wellington, which was awarded Best Specialist Restaurant. Putting a spin on traditional ingredients, chef Monique Fiso is making a splash on New Zealand’s food scene by blending fine dining with traditional Māori cooking techniques and ingredients.

While many New Zealand visitor activities include a hāngi (a meal cooked in a in a pit under the ground) in their Māori culture experiences, these are generally down-to-earth affairs with big slabs of succulent meat, kumara (sweet potato) and vegetables.

Hiakai’s tasting menus of six, eight and 10 courses are exquisitely plated, and feature an indigenous ingredient that no other fine dining restaurant in the world cooks with.

“I want people to leave thinking, ‘I didn't realise there was this much to New Zealand food’ and that they'll walk away from here thinking New Zealand is just as exciting as other countries when it comes to food,” says Fiso.

The awards were a big success for Wellington where Hiakai was just one of six of the 13 award categories won by Wellington establishments. The full list of Cuisine’s top New Zealand restaurants for 2019 can be found here. Make sure you recommend your clients book a table in advance, so they don’t miss out.