The Station serves some of the best Korean and Japanese food in town. The izakaya dishes are particularly well done, inspired by typical Japanese bar (izakaya) snacks and including items like beef tataki (tender grilled beef) and spicy tuna sashimi. Be sure to also try the unagi (eel) steak, and fusion items like butterfly prawn and chicken nanban.
This family friendly restaurant boasts a coszy hunter’s lodge-like interior, with a fireplace. The West Coast Bar & Grill is where you will find old regulars as well as visitors mingling over beer and hearty Kiwi fare; like steamed mussels and venison steak. Be sure to make a reservation, as the place is always packed.
The Papanui Club Cafe is the latest incarnation of the beloved old Peppertree Restaurant, which was forced to close after damage from the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Come here for affordable, tasty meals, including the two course roast menu available on all days except Friday evenings. Keep an eye out for the daily-changing menu of freshly made desserts.
One of the few authentic Malaysian restaurants in New Zealand, Malaysia Delights is a charming little lunch and dinner spot in the heart of Papanui. The Malaysian cuisine on offer is heavily influenced by Straits and Southeast Asian Chinese culture, with dishes like Penang lobak (pork and bean curd rolls originating from the Malaysian port city) and laksa soup noodles.
Visit Maharaja for Indian food in a stylish setting, with a cocktail bar and banquet room. The chefs at Maharaja make no compromises when it comes to the flavor and spiciness of the meals on offer. Be sure to try the tender mango chicken, and rich kadai gosht (roast lamb). For the best dining experience, try to visit in a larger group and order multiple mains for sharing (as is common practice in India).
Cookai combines Japanese and Kiwi cuisine, with an emphasis on high quality seafood. Sample some of their zensai items, which are served tapas-style on small plates and packed with flavor and complex textures. Standouts include beer battered soft-shell crab with oyster sauce, white fish carpaccio with ponzu jelly and fish roe, and tempura burgers. Big eaters can go for the large selection of grill and teppanyaki sets.
Jimmy’s Restaurant and Bar is famed for its melt-in-your-mouth ribeye steak, but diners looking for something lighter will also find plenty of reasons to visit. Made from locally sourced ingredients, the mains on the extensive menu include venison pie, salmon fillet (caught off nearby Akaroa peninsula), and sweet pea risotto. Take a table on the outdoor terrace for the perfect summertime dinner.
The Rose and Thistle is a very social venue combining a sports bar and all-day restaurant. Meals are relatively standard, including Kiwi menu classics such as burgers and seafood platters. The main draw of Rose and Thistle is its innovative pizzas, like the chicken and apricot pizza; and a chicken, cranberry, and brie version.
Run by chef Keo, who hails from northeastern Thailand, Keo Thai Restaurant and Courtyard Bar has some great value lunch meals, in addition to well made classic Esaan Thai cuisine. Come with a few friends and choose the group set menus, which offer a variety of dishes for sampling and sharing, for a fixed price per person. The pad talay pe set (seafood curry with egg and cream) and green curry are especially good.
The decor in this popular pizzeria on Papanui Road borders on kitsch, but the cooking is no-nonsense and firmly authentic. Some rare treats like Sicilian arancini (breaded and fried risotto balls) are available, as well as New Zealand twists on classics like the smoked salmon and ‘New Zealand Favourite’ pizzas. Also at hand are expert mixologists and a very decent wine selection.