General Blog

Plenty of Bite at King of Snake

By March 30, 2013No Comments

Diners are enjoying the concept of ‘shared plates’ more than ever. Communal dining has existed since time immemorial and it’s the way in a great many cultures, but the stolid Anglo-Saxon approach to eating is one plate for each of us. The Asian way is increasingly becoming the norm and indeed it has spread into our Kiwi culture. One of the most popular spots to eat out at in Christchurch is ‘King of Snake’, a reincarnation of Tony Astle’s ‘Indochine’ and ‘Chinwag Eathai’, which were hot spots. ‘King of Snake’ successfully features shared plates as a point of difference and the innovative and contemporary Thai-based cuisine is the ideal platform.

The food is indeed noteworthy, and the explosion of colours, flavours and textures by way of the combination of multiple dishes being shared enhances the interest. There’s more than just Thai influence, as while I found it reminiscent of the now-closed, ground-breaking ‘Anise’ in Wellington, there’s a feel of ’Café Hanoi’ in Auckland and the broadness of appeal that ‘Monsoon Poon’ provides in both of those cities. ‘King of Snake’ is Christchurch’s version of the modern, trendy and up-market, but easy-going Asian eatery.

Our Meal
Our table of four ordered a wide range of dishes, all from a separate menu created for gluten-free dining, most of them also featuring on the main menu. Spinach leaf with roasted coconut, peanuts, garlic, chilli and lime was first, to be eaten with contents rolled-up in the leaf. Refreshing, crisp and crunchy was the verdict. The Blade cut Mt Cook Salmon with organic white miso was melt in the mouth, very softly textured and subtly tangy with its infusion of sauce. The Stir-fried chilli prawns were large, firm and showed the freshness of the sea with delicate sweetness, and again, balanced heat and nuance. The Fresh seafood salad with green mango, curry dressing was more in the savoury, vinegary side, providing a delightful contrast to the sweetness and saltiness of the other courses. And our Stir-fried exotic and common greens an unusual mix of vegetables tied together by soy and nutty jus. The most textural course was the Penang curry of beef cheeks with green beans and fish crackling, and even this was tender and moist. There was plenty of steamed white rice to soak up all the remaining sauces and juices.

The new wave of Asian desserts also tempted us, and the Fresh melon with passionfruit sorbet was an ideal cleanser and sweetener at the end. More substantial was the Caramel custard with crunchy banana and organic banana ice cream. We didn’t’ need the banana to be battered and deep-fried would be our only criticism. That’s a minor at most. Overall, the food had plenty of flavour interest, balance and a degree of bite that made you pay attention.

The Drinks
The drinks list is not a large and all-encompassing one with too many options that in reality give you little variety. Instead it is compact and extremely well-chosen, and competently covers all the required bases, but also offers a strong degree of the interesting and excitement factor. The cocktails are legendary, the ‘King of Snake’ name referring to the signature mix from Indochine, brought over to this restaurant. The beers on offer cover mainstream to craft, and we enjoyed the hoppy-citrus blend of flavours in the Renaissance ‘Paradox’ Pilsner and the sweeter, fruitier ‘Discovery’ American-Style Pale Ale.

The wine selection shows the skill and expertise behind the beverage management. There are offerings from the length of the country and across all the required styles and varieties and include showcase examples from Canterbury. There is the token nod to imported wines which won’t break the bank and will match the food. Particularly pleasing is the number of wines available by the glass: two sparklings, 16 whites and 7 reds.

Our table ordered by the bottle, a Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010, and a Kingsmill ‘Tippet’s Dam’ Bannockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009, the white showing pristine aromatics and very fine, crisp and refreshing acidity to balance the exotic varietal character, and the red with layers of complex fruitiness with input from whole bunch and oak, and an underlying seriousness of structure supporting the rich and supple mouthfeel.

I must report the décor is funky and needs to be seen, and the service by the youthful and enthusiastic staff makes it a fun and interactive place to dine. I recommend it highly.

King of Snake, 145 Victoria Street, Christchurch, Tel: 03 365-7363, www.kingofsnake.co.nz

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