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.
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 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