Monday12:30 – 11:00 pm.
Tuesday12:30 – 11:00 pm.
Friday12:30 – 11:00 pm.
Saturday12:30 – 11:00 pm.
8A London Street, Lyttelton
Hidden down a small lane on Lyttelton's main drag, you'll find one of Christchurch's best-kept dining secrets. There is no signage, no walk-ins, no hours and no menu. This is Mapu, a small experimental kitchen by acclaimed chef Giulio Sturla.
Originally from Chile, Giulio has called Aotearoa home since 2009 and quickly built a reputation as one of the country’s culinary heroes. He co-founded Eat New Zealand, a not-for-profit movement dedicated to connecting people to the land and ocean through food. He also created the famed, but now former, Lyttelton restaurant, Roots. Mapu is the latest iteration of Guilio’s food journey.
Enter Mapu, and you’ll start to get an understanding of its description as a test kitchen. It's dark, intimate and minimalistic. The right-angle chef's table seats six, the maximum capacity of any night at Mapu, and provides the perfect view to witness culinary mastery. The kitchen is immaculately clean and, even more impressively, remains so throughout the evening. It was designed as a showcase kitchen specifically for Giulio by the famed German kitchen brand Gaggenau.
The menu is eight courses with an optional wine match (definitely recommended if the budget allows, as it's a wine world adventure in its own right!). By offering a ‘trust the chef’ style menu, Giulio allows his guests to go in blind with no preconceptions about his dishes or the ingredients. He jokes, 'people wouldn't eat anything in my restaurant if there were a menu'.
Once seated, it takes little time to realise this will be different from any dining experience you've likely had before. It's a seasonal food pilgrimage of the natural environment. Each dish features foraged food from the surrounding Banks Peninsula, non-traditional crops Giulio grows in the garden, and captivating items he's picked up on his global travels, like the Sansho Pepper he sourced from the central park at Seoul University. There's also a strong locally-sourced seafood focus that celebrates the diversity and quality of our island nation. As he prepares and cooks, you hear the growers' and ingredients' stories and start to see the artistry Guilio puts into his craft.
If you're lucky enough to experience Mapu, we guarantee you'll walk out inspired and with a new appreciation of what's truly possible in the world of food, thanks to Giulio's commitment to the pursuit of flavour.
Words by Johnny Gibson & Photography by Nancy Zhou
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