Sherpa Kai x The Commoners
Tuesday4:00 pm – 12:00 am.
Wednesday4:00 pm – 12:00 am.
Thursday4:00 pm – 12:00 am.
Friday4:00 pm – 2:00 am.
Saturday4:00 pm – 2:00 am.
Sunday4:00 – 11:00 am.
10 Oxford Street, Lyttelton
Pop over to Lyttelton any day of the week (save Mondays) for an evening with Sherpa Kai x The Commoners. Housed sub-street level in what was once The British Hotel, this hospitality outfit offers Nepalese inspired food, frequent live music, craft beer, cocktails and a late night license. The dining aspect of things, provided by all star chef Thendup Sherpa, is Sherpa Kai.
Originally from Darjeeling, Thendup’s cooking is inspired by his childhood, his travels and by specificity in the world of cheffing. As he has explored South America and parts of Asia he has always been struck, he says, by the chefs who serve only one or two items from their shop windows. Whether it’s a loaf of bread or a cup of tea, he appreciates how these vendors have completely mastered one thing in an almost cathartic way.
When Thendup migrated to NZ in 2004 he brought with him his world travels and a culinary degree from the UK. After staying at home with his two young sons for a time, he got restless and decided to start a food truck. Sherpa Kai soon popped up at the Lyttelton markets every Saturday, and the food became popular with locals in no time. Since then Thendup has moved his operation to The Commoners where he serves dinner six nights a week. While the business has changed, his approach to hospitality is still simple and refreshing. Above all it’s rooted in balance.
Hospitality can be a gruelling industry but with the right strategy it can be an opportunity for both chef and diner to find solace, equilibrium and nourishment. Rather than trying to offer an extensive menu and top level showmanship day in and day out, Thendup offers three dishes each night. This gives him the ability to provide top quality plates with plenty of time left over to spend with his young family. Diners, on the other hand, always have the option to try something new without being overwhelmed by choice. It’s a win win for everyone involved.
Tibetan mo-mo dumplings are quite popular and usually feature on Sherpa Kai’s short menu. Other dishes like vegan Aloo chat (potato with Nepali spices, Kashmiri chilli, yellow pea sambar, tamarind sauce, dry mango, yogurt, coriander tomatoes and cucumbers) are always bursting with flavour. Whenever you visit, you’re in for a treat and the opportunity to try flavours you might never have tried before.
True to form, the atmosphere in which Sherpa Kai fare can be enjoyed, The Commoners, provides the perfect counter. One of the oldest pubs in New Zealand, this bar features a bit of old and new. Craft beer, wine and hand crafted cocktails are always on offer. A photo booth located near the Oxford Street entrance provides a bit of antique fun and frequent live music adds vibrant energy.
Together, Sherpa Kai and The Commoners offer a spot where you can come in and enjoy a delicious meal alone or bring the whole gang for dinner, drinks and dancing into the night. The venue can be hired for events of up to 50 people. Sherpa Kai also does catering.
Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou
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