Wellington – the Posh Nosh Edition

Prior to covid, I was a regular visitor to Wellington – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited over the last twenty years. In recent years though my visits have been for specific reasons – there’s been a party or a show to attend or something of the like. This time there was absolutely nothing planned – so my friend decided the time was right to visit (a few of) the restaurants she’d been telling me over the years that we’d visit the next time I was in town. And in a city like Wellington where there are so many great bars and restaurants, she’d set herself the challenge of narrowing it down to just three.

Before I fill this post with pictures of posh food, let me also say that over the course of a week, there was also plain food, home-cooked food, street food, and a rather excellent takeaway potato-topped pie eaten on the back deck in the sun. There was also walking, a couple of personal trainer sessions and plenty of writing taking place. That, however, is for another post.


The easiest way to describe Koji is to copy the statement from their website:

What we do is simple!

We take classic Asian flavours, use awesome New Zealand produce,
make as much as we can from scratch, smoking, baking, fermenting, pickling etc.

Then create BIG flavours in surprising ways.

Each of the dishes is designed to be shared and this was – in a week that featured some great meals – the best meal of the week.

We began with a yuzu-based cocktail and some oysters with yuzu sake and green chilli pickle and went from there.

We had 3 small plates: venison, star anise, kaffir lime pie tee (my favourite bite of the night); Korean BBQ beef toast with duck fat bechamel and Szechuan pickle; and yellow curry beef donut with QP mayo and pickled daikon.

This was followed by 3 medium plates – chicken and prawn dumplings; charcoal-roasted broccoli with lemon anchovy soy (quite possibly the best broccoli dish I’ve EVER eaten and a contender for my dish of the night); and miso dengaku eggplant with pepita, puffed grains and nori (another favourite dish of the night).

Finally we shared Jiangxi butterfish, with pickled mustard greens and Szechuan oil; and tea-smoked duck with sweet & sour hoisin and black olive kombu.

For more info, check out their website.


A very fine fine-diner, this was our ladies-who-lunch choice for Friday. It’s one of those places where everything is made from scratch. Even the butter (which I could easily have eaten by the spoonful) is hand-churned.

We chose the 3-course menu (deciding against dessert) and both began with the Te Matuku oysters and finished with the venison, beetroot and plum. In between, I had the sea-lettuce tart with eggplant, confit tomatoes and nigella seeds (my favourite individual dish of the trip), and Heather had the ceviche of snapper with peach, yuzu and chilli. Yes, there’s a bit of a yuzu theme happening here. (For those who don’t know, yuzu is a Japanese citrus, that looks a bit like lime and tastes a bit like if a lemon, lime and grapefruit got together.)

You can find out more about Atlas here.


The first thing you need to know about Rita is that it’s tiny – the restaurant is the width of this house. The second thing is that the menu changes each night and there is no menu as such – just what they feel like cooking that evening… which means (unless there are prearranged changes for dietary requirements, we all eat the same dishes).

First up was an amuse-bouche of crispy cheesy puff pastry and extremely good butter. This was followed by smoked snapper with golden beets and a buttermilk dressing; and then sirloin with peppers, and tomato. Dessert was a burnt butter cake with yoghurt and lemon verbena ice cream, peaches and a raspberry coulis.

Each course was (relatively) simple and executed perfectly. I can see why this place is so popular.

Find out more about Rita here.

Linking up with Donna from Retirement Reflections and her co-host Deb The Widow Badass Blog in their #whatsonyourplateblogchallenge.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

14 thoughts

  1. Wow! is right Jo the food looks amazing. We only visited Wellington for a couple of hours on a cruise and the weather was terrible. I am definitely booking a visit to explore this great city especially the food. Can you become a foodie tour guide? I’ll book you now!!! xx

  2. Koji is excellent – so many fresh flavours. I love Rita – the whole set-up with the cutlery in the drawers and hand-written menus is lovely. I haven’t been to Atlas….so can add that to my list of places to go!

  3. I love all of your post food photos Jo, but the thing that makes my mouth water the most is that potato pie. Oh my goodness, that pie! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

  4. Soooo out of my league, but beautiful food – and if you say it was fabulous then I’m sure it was amazing. I can’t remember the last time I ate in a restaurant – it would have been several months ago……must get around to doing it again soon. Although the potato pie ticked a lot of my boxes 😀

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