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This is an image I found online. It is called ‘Zoe’s flag’ from Waimea Intermediate School.

New Zealand is a multi-cultural country. The ideas that we have about ourselves have been really tested over the last week as we absorb and try to comprehend the terrible act of violence that took place in Christchurch.

Looking for a recipe the other day, I saw Jerusalemon my cookery book shelf, and thought about the way that multi-culturalism creates the rich and varied food culture that I love, and remembered that food has the ability to form connections between people from disparite backgrounds.

As Yotam Ottolenghi says,

“Personal private stories are immersed in great culinary traditions that often overlap and interact in unpredictable ways, creating food mixes and culinary combinations that belong to specific groups but also belong to everybody else.”

So today, I want to celebrate the amazing multi-cultural food traditions of New Zealand, give a shout out to some of my favourite eateries, and remind myself that the simple act of eating, can make the unknown known, the other familiar and enrich all our lives.

PS Some of these restaurants are my personal favourites, and some are recommendations by friends. Either way, I encourage you to try them out and let me know what you think. Or make your own list and post it as a comment – I always love having new places to try :o)

Chinese – Grand Harbour, Auckland Viaduct

I love Yum Cha and this is a place to eat it in style; the restaurant is enormous and the staff are constantly offering you new and delicious options. Also the atmosphere is fun as it gets very busy on a Sunday and I really enjoy the spectacle of it all, as well as the excellent food.

Chinese – Golden Steamboat, Balmoral, Auckland

This upstairs place feels like you’ve stepped into somewhere in Bejing, according to my Chinese Malaysian friend. The TV is playing a Chinese channel, the sides tables are screened by hanging bead blinds and the steamboat experience is great, choosing your own ingredients then putting them into the soup pot filled with lovely broth, which bubbles away on the table stove in front of you.

Indian –  Satya, Great North Road, Auckland

This is a restaurant I’ve been going to for a long time. Coming from the UK (and in my area a mostly North Indian food tradition) discovering South Indian cooking was a revelation. I love those South Indian ingredients: lentils, tamarind, yoghurt and coconut. I usually go mid-week or early evening when I think it’s quieter and the service is better. I love the sari silk décor too; a classic.

Indian – Tiffin, Morningside, Auckland

A classier place for Indian. Very comfortable and ambiance is lovely. Food is always consistently good.

Japanese – Icco, Morningside, Auckland

This saki bar is a recent find but I’ve been there 2-3 times now and I love it each time. The ingredients are super fresh and the wait staff are cute and friendly. Great menu if you love raw fish.

Turkish – Lokanta, Grey Lynn, Auckland

I love the food of the Eastern Meditteranean. It something we eat quite a lot at home and I find the flavours and textures comforting and familiar. This is a recommendation from a Turkish friend.

French – The French Café, Eden Terrace, Auckland

I’ve put this under French but it could also go under Indian since Sid and Chand Sahrawat bought it in 2018. The food there now is an interesting mix of the two, and the service is impecable as ever.

Thai – Kiss Kiss, Balmoral, Auckland

Such a fun place to eat – it feels just like a Thai street place with fake trees, umbrellas and pink neon lights. The food is awesome. They don’t take reservations so you just have to rock up, but it is well-worth it, and the service is friendly too.

Polynesian/Asian – Blue Ginger, Whitianga

This casual café in Whitianga is always a pleasure to eat at. It’s a simple place with stools and little tables and food is clean, fresh and a fantastic fusion of polynesian and asian flavours. I always find something to love.