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Review: King of Snake

The first bite lights up my tastebuds like a pinball machine, ricocheting around my palette and firing up the sweet, sour and salty zones to converge in a star-seeing king hit. Crunchy, fresh, feisty and obscenely moreish, King of Snake’s deservedly-famous spinach leaf is a tightly-coiled flavour bomb of roasted coconut, peanuts, garlic, chilli and lime and effortlessly seduces.

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Eschewing street frontage and rubbernecking gawkers, Stealth Hospitality’s flagship epitomises off-the-grid nonchalance with its no-fuss entrance via unassuming alleyway. Equal measures chic sophistication and rock star swag, this post-quake bar raiser has become the measuring stick of cool with it’s a flawless union: a slick fit-out, top-the-game Asian fusion fare, and that elusive hybrid of über professional, efficient and disarming Kiwi charm/service usually reserved for the country’s luxury lodgings.

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With primo cocktails a given, its legendary namesake elixir is top shelf lightening-in-a-tumbler magic and not to be missed. Bitingly potent, it’s a harmoniously-blended firecracker of fresh ginger, chilli-infused Belvedere Vodka and citrus liqueur; the perfect primer for, and distillation of, executive chef Stuart Langsford’s celebrated Asianic menu without borders. Our diligent waiter Casey gives us the King of Snake rundown: lots of exotic flavours, designed to share and fun – all the ingredients for an unforgettable night out. For entrees we double tap the crispy offerings teaming squid with garlic and peppercorns (tender, crisp and, when dipped in the chilli sauce – eyes-widening delicious) and pork belly, plum sauce and Sichuan pickled cucumber (beautifully rendered, crackled to perfection and humming with the piquant cumbers).

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Suitably impressed, we’re blown out of the water when the mains arrive: the painstakingly prepared crispy pressed half duck with caramelised mandarin sauce is an immediate favourite – delicate, moist and decadent with the edgy-sweetness of the mandarin and restrained seasoning allowing its crispy hero to soar – while the Penang curry marries melt-in-the-mouth tender beef cheeks awash in a velvety, punchy curry rocking soft-boiled eggs with melting yolks and crunchy scattering of fish crackling adds a next-level textural surprise.

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Surprising also is the liberal use of fresh coriander in the stir-fried exotic and common greens which, for some reason, is sorely lacking from so many Christchurch ingredients lists. Our dessert order, lime pudding, gets the nod of approval from Casey who, on loan from the US’ east coast, is enamoured by its similarities with his homeland’s key lime pie. Its rich, silky custard tingling with lime and citrus segments is gently soothed by the addition fresh coconut milk and hit home with a sensational yam biscuit crumb ensuring a near professionally-cleaned bowl returns to the kitchen. Long live the King!

145 Victoria Street
03 365 7363
kingofsnake.co.nz

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Cityscape is the essential Christchurch directory of where to eat and drink, what to do and where to shop. From the best events to add to your calendar to tips to ensure you squeeze out the very essence of the city, Cityscape has the city of Christchurch covered inside and out.

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Guest 26 June 2017