Bamboozle Oriental Fusion Kitchen & Bar - Christchurch
6 Wakefield Ave, Sumner, Christchurch ph: 03-326 7878
by Kate Fraser | Cuisine issue #150 | Monday, 26 December, 2011
The Christchurch earthquakes have had a huge effect on the city’s restaurants. Some, in areas with little damage, found business increased. Others, however, were so damaged that closing was the only option. But out of the trouble and rubble, many new places have risen.
Business partners Phillip and Helen Kraal closed their well-known Worcester Blvd restaurant, Le Bon Bolli, in 2008 and opened the Crumpet Club and Bon Bolli Catering in Tuam St. On 22 February this year, the day of the quake that caused major damage, Phillip Kraal was reaching the end of a sabbatical period as executive chef for a hotel in China. He rushed back to discover that the Crumpet Club was not only badly damaged, but behind the cordon with access forbidden. All customers and staff were safe, which was a comfort, but the Kraals’ thriving business was gone.
Just seven months later though, they had leased new premises in Sumner and were fulfilling a dream: a restaurant offering innovative European and Asian dishes, plus a bar area with snacks and a large screen for sports enthusiasts.
It is not a large space, but it is dramatic. One wall appears to be a forest of brilliant green bamboo, the bar and eating areas are divided by a wall of real bamboo, and then there is the kitchen: huge woks backed by running water (to keep the woks at the right temperature) and chefs working steadily to deliver a stream of dishes.
The menu begins with dim sum, dumplings and soups. Siu mai, little morsels of shrimp and pork in wonton wrappers, were as expected, but the krai sie bum (pun alert!) steamed buns filled with a clever take on traditional Caesar salad ingredients, and camembert and hazelnut wontons served with onion jam displayed evidence of some clever fusion styling.
Our party included two who had recently declared they were following the vegan way of eating but this was dealt with swiftly and professionally, with warm salads of aubergine and cashews with steamed greens, and curried tofu with coconut rice. The vegan diet slipped briefly as the devotees sampled gurnard marinated in lime juice and served with an onion dressing (“just a little, but so good’’). This fish featured in our first wave of dishes, along with squid coated with coconut, and sweet and sour cucumber. Apart from a reservation about the over-crispiness of the squid, the dishes were succulent and generous. A 2005 Cottier Estate Chardonnay provided a smooth and perfect match.
Bamboozle has attracted crowds since day one and the staff struggle at time to keep up with the flow of orders but polite professionalism goes a long way to make amends. A whole – but small – soy-glazed chicken was wok-fried to produce a tender, succulent little bird, while next visit will certainly include more of the delicate but
crisp-skinned pork belly, served with an anise- and chilli-spiked soy sauce.
The dessert selection is pure Kraal. Selections include affogato Bamboozle – a layered beauty of boozy ice-cream, liqueur, strong black coffee and whipped mascarpone; the original Le Bon Bolli creme brulee; and another colourful concoction featuring mango, coconut, yoghurt, jelly and sorbet.
A masterful hand is at work here.
The style of food and the decor at Bamboozle may be different, but at its heart are old-fashioned hospitality and sound cooking skills.
6 Wakefield Ave, Sumner, ph: 03-326 7878
Tues-Sat 5pm to late Shared plates $16-$25