Vaibhav Vishen is on a roll, opening two restaurants in less than two years and winning the capital’s most prestigious burger award – for a vegetarian burger, no less. The founder of Chaat Street now has venues in both Pōneke and Tāmaki Makaurau, bringing his flavourful Indian street food dishes to an ever-increasing fanbase.
Here, Vishen shares his favourite Wellington spots for a drink and a bite when he’s off the clock.
What’s your favourite place for lunch on the go?
I usually go for the nasi goreng at Little Penang on Victoria Street – it’s bloody delicious, and I also recommend trying the rose cookies.
How about for a drink and snacks?
The Puffin is great for drinks and a creatively designed bar menu that changes frequently. They’ve got a great wine list too.
If it’s a special occasion, where are you headed?
Cinderella for steaks. The chef [James Pask] is a creative genius! I love the setting of the restaurant, with its all-season outdoor courtyard that has a fireplace in the corner.
Where’s your favourite for great baking or pastries?
The Larder, Jacob Brown and Sarah Bullock’s daytime eatery in Miramar – they also own Myrtle bakery and are known for their excellent cabinet food.
And where do you think does the best coffee in town?
The Hangar – Flight Coffee’s flagship. They have the coolest vibe in town. Even at 8am with a full house, they never go wrong with their coffees. Each time I go in I see a smiling, happy team.
Do you have a go-to for a long lunch?
Kisa on Cuba Street for their fantastic grilled meats and pita breads.
How about a meal with a big group of family or friends?
Mr Go’s for tasty Asian fusion sharing plates. They’ve just closed their Taranaki Street restaurant and are in the process of reopening in a new site on Eva Street – can’t wait.
Where do you reckon does the best desserts?
I prefer ice-cream and gelato for dessert so Duck Island would be my go-to. My favourite flavour is the roasted miso and white chocolate, even though it doesn’t seem to be in the cabinet very often!
What’s your personal favourite dish on the menu at Chaat Street? A tough one I’m sure.
The aloo tikki chaat, which is also a favourite among our diners. If I was to explain what it is, I’d say “crunch on steroids”.