Travel the flavours of Asia in Wellington Te Whanganui-a-Tara

A flatlay of bowls of Chinese food at Dragons Wellington.

Take your tastebuds on a whirlwind tour through Asia from the comfort of our compact capital city.

Words by: John Son 

Photos by: Anna Briggs & Supplied

As one of the most fascinating continents on the planet, Asia is an eclectic melting pot of cultures, people, languages - and undeniably fantastic food.

If a foodie tour through Asia is on your bucket list but you’re not quite ready to take the leap, Wellington is a great place to do a practice run. There are some outstanding Asian restaurants in every corner of town, serving up dishes to rival those from their home countries. So leave the passport at home, round up your friends and take a local journey through the flavours of Asia.

Mabel’s (Myanmar)

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66 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington

A homely ‘eat and drink shop’ steeped in local history, Mabel’s has firmly put Burmese cuisine on the Wellington map. Stop over at Mabel’s to introduce yourself to the unique cuisine of this part of Asia, where rich, hearty curries and noodles go hand-in-hand with refreshing salads. The la phet thoke, a salad made from fermented tea leaves, is a specialty not to be missed.

Dragon’s (China)

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25 Tory Street, Te Aro

When it comes to iconic Asian eating experiences, few come close to the popularity of yum cha. Dragons is one of Wellington's go-to yum cha spots, serving trollies filled with an evolving, innovative selection of dishes to packed tables every weekend. The dinner offering is exceptional too, making Dragon’s an ideal spot for a Chinese meal for any occasion.

A flatlay of plates of noodles and rice on a marble bench top.

Little Penang (Malaysia)

One of Wellington’s favourite Malaysian outfits, Little Penang is a bustling lunch spot that has been feeding busy city workers for years. A shop at each end of town means you don’t have to travel far for your fix of pad thai, char koay teow, or nasi goreng. The daily specials are a superb line-up, and the roti and curry combo is one of the best value lunches you’ll find in Wellington.

A plate of fried chicken on a table.

K-Chicken Bistro (South Korea)

60 Hobart Street, Miramar

If there’s one thing better than fried chicken, it’s Korean fried chicken. Fortunately, Wellington is home to one of the country’s best Korean fried chicken joints, with K-Chicken Bistro adding a Miramar store to its legendary Paraparaumu home. Grab a pack of crispy chicken drenched in a wide range of sauces, or try one of the hearty burgers with a side of fries.

Photo: Stock image

A close up of a woman's hand dipping tempura into a bowl of soy sauce.

Kazaguruma (Japan)

272 Cuba Street, Te Aro

Housed in a beautiful little shop on upper Cuba Street, the dishes at Kazaguruma are as neatly presented as the fitout. Here you’ll find some of the best contemporary Japanese cuisine in Wellington, with a comprehensive menu allowing you to choose from sashimi, sushi, tempura, teriyaki, and more, along with desserts and Japanese herbal tea and spirits. 

Photo: Stock image

Hands holding a chicken leg in chopsticks.

Saigon Taste (Vietnam)

17 Majoribanks Street, Mount Victoria

Make the trip to Majoribanks Street, just beyond Courtenay Place, and treat yourself to the superb Vietnamese fare at Saigon Taste. The compact restaurant offers a wide-ranging menu serving no-nonsense classics packed with flavour - think hearty pho bowls, vermicelli salads, pan-fried meats on rice, and arguably the best spring rolls you’ll find in town.

Photo: Stock image

A man dishing up curry on his plate inside Indian Alley in Wellington.

Indian Alley (India)

3/290 Wakefield Street, Te Aro

Among the many excellent Indian restaurants in Wellington, Indian Alley stands out as one of the finest. Here you’ll find not only the tried and tested classic curries but also unique dishes introducing new aspects of Indian cuisine. Ordering the parda biryani - a biryani cooked with a roti layer on top, an Indian Alley specialty - is a must.

A person holding a plate of Thai food.

The Original Thai Restaurant (Thailand)

155 The Parade, Island Bay

Hidden in the sleepy suburb of Island Bay is The Original Thai Restaurant, which serves up beautifully plated, authentic Thai food. Renowned for its cosy atmosphere and friendly service with a smile, the restaurant simply does great Thai cuisine that keeps people coming back for more, with the curries being a crowd favourite.

Photo: Stock image

A person with a knife and fork digging into a plate of Filipino food.

Lazy Juan (Philippines)

155 The Terrace, Wellington Central

Filipino food can be hard to come by in Wellington, but a trip to Lazy Juan is all you need to sate your cravings. The lively cafe serves generous portions of the Filipino staples, such as adobo, tapsilog, and sisig. The impressive cabinet, serving a range of salads and baked goods, is also commendable.

Photo: Stock image

Kisa (Middle East)

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195 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

For a truly all-encompassing food tour of Asia, you simply can’t skip the cuisines of Western Asia and the Middle East. Kisa is the place to go to indulge in the flavours of Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and beyond. The menu is designed for sharing, so take a large group and tuck into as many of the delectable offerings as you can, from mezze plates and vegetarian dishes to protein from the land and sea.

Neat Wellington Places

Huckle & Co

A flatlay of fish and chips and burger with a little pottle of sauce on an outdoor table.
Place Wellington
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The perfect summer afternoon doesn’t exis… oh wait, it does, and you’ll find it in Seatoun in Wellington.

Myrtle

Plate of pastrami sandwiches for sale at Myrtle, Wellington.
Place Wellington
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Offering a local taste of New York chic, Myrtle is the spinoff bakery everybody wanted from one of Wellington’s most revered suburban eateries.

La Bella Italia

The exterior of La Bella Italia on a sunny day.
Place Hutt Valley
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Down an unassuming side street in industrial Petone, you’ll find La Bella Italia, Lower Hutt’s very own Little Italy.

Graze Wine Bar

The small seating area inside the brightly lit Graze Wine Bar in Wellington.
Place Wellington
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Wellington’s central city eateries are revered across the country, and for good reason.