Photographs: David Straight
We need more places like this. Bolaven is named after the Bolaven plateau, in the high country of Laos – owner Sip Mounlath’s parents came from Laos in the 1970s and so her new restaurant has that wonderful and rare combination: cute fitout, decent wine list, authentic food. It opened a few weeks back and, as of last week, is now open three nights for dinner.
It’s lovely. Sip and friends did the fitout: timber, ply, metal, brick. It’s light-filled and bustling by day and a cozy, candle-lit space by night. Service is friendly, casual. By day there are freshly made juices and a cafe menu with Lao highlights: recently, we’ve eaten fried eggs with sticky rice and a Lao tomato chutney ($12.50), a dish that Sip serves her kids: you smudge the egg with the rice and soy sauce and chilli and make a delicious mess. And then there is pho ($19.50). A generous big bowl of beef broth with lightly charred strips of fillet and a pretty collection of additions – lime, chilli, peanuts, ginger. It makes for a perfect early lunch.
We went back for dinner and ate a sublime green vege curry ($19), grilled eggplant with lemongrass and tomatoes ($13), all gooey and grilled, as well as a fabulous salad of prawns and pan-fried squid with Lao dressing and smashed cucumber. There was caramelised pork belly with a braised egg ($22), sticky and gloriously sweet, and mok pa ($26) a package of hapuku cooked in banana leaf with lemongrass and coconut milk. Flavours are punchy and clean: it takes us straight back to Laos. Keep an eye on this one. SFG
HOURS Breakfast & lunch, seven days. Dinner, Thursday to Saturday.
ADDRESS 597 Mt Eden Road, ph 631-7520. bolaven.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS They take bookings! Most excellent.