Wellington is a foodies dream. As many of us know, we can't REALLY get enough to eat.
So I was really excited when I heard that one of my favourite places, QT Museum Wellington, were opening a new restaurant as part of their re-fit. After their wonderful signature restaurant, Hippopotamus and the fabulous Lobby bar, I wondered "What it would be?"
The new kid in town, and new on the menu for QT Museum Wellington, is called Hot Sauce. Hot Sauce is a large, generous bar, with dark corners where dark deeds can be done (or, you know, just messily eating of ribs). I was lucky enough to go along to try it out a few weeks ago. I can honestly say that Hot Sauce is offering up beautiful, sumptuous Asian-fusion delights that will leave you salivating! If you can go gluttonous, I'd highly recommend ordering everything - all the away!!
On arrival, I could see that Hot Sauce was the new hot spot to be - the decor, in particular, was lit. Full of golden lucky cats and steamers on the ceiling, they've created something kitsch yet chic. After scanning the room, for approximately three seconds, I saw and joined two work colleagues, Natalie and Felicity, who were there having fried chicken. I sat with them while Matt arrived and then, later on, bumped into Laurent and also the CEO of a major New Zealand tech company who I've been lucky enough to interview. It felt like a China-Town Cheers - I'd only been there for a short time, but yet everybody knew my name. And, you know, you wanna be where everybody knows your name...amiright?
Beverage-wise, I started out with the most amazing chilli flavoured South East Asian Mojito. Sweet, salty, icy and spicy, this drink was so delicious I ended up having three before I'd even looked at the menu. Matt chose a beer from the menu (probably the only weak spot - Monteiths is the house craft beer and otherwise there are some fab international beers like Tiger and Asahi - but not a lot for the craft beer aficionado) and we shared a splendid drop of Chardonnay.
After Matt came, we sat together and looked at the menu. The food, in particular, was right up Matt's alley. He took over and started to order away to our lovely young waiter. We started with two oysters served with red nahm jim or natural. Now I know not all of you like oysters, but personally, these wee tasters of the sea light up my life and - OH MY GOD - these oysters were crisp, fresh and tasted like heaven.
Following, Matt and I had some delicious Tea Smoked Duck Bao with pickled celery and mustard dressing. The duck in these were, in my opinion, a little dry but I think that is probably just the way the duck is prepared. Nevertheless, they were also totally moreish and the popped down my gullet - one, two, three (maybe Matt got a few snippets..).
For both of us, the stand-out "We have to go back" dish was the delicious, soft prawn wontons on the menu. These were light like a cloud and steamed to perfection - served with green onion, ginger and vinegar. The sauce was phenomenal that they came drenched in - Hot Sauce, I want the recipe! Runner-up was the sweet and sour short ribs. Both of us got right into them and took great joy in systematically dissecting the rich dark meat from the bone, sucking them right down to the base. We also had a rich, delicious rice dish, that had octopus mixed through, and was a mayonnaise dream.
To finish, we chose the Tokyo Macha Misu and Padan Panacotta with chocolate brandy snap. Everything was sweet, but not too sweet, and smooth. If you're a bit nervous about eating foreign desserts, Hot Sauce is a good place to take the leap into green tea flavoured pudding. We ate it all up and mice wouldn't have been able to gather the scraps on our plate.
Helpfully, all the plates are priced the same in chunks - so you can budget by round numbers. Small sharing plates are $12, Salads / Raw / Sushi are $17, large share plates are $24 and desserts are $9. Snacks are even less. You can always have a play around, but the quantities are balanced so a few plates would fill up two people quite nicely. Matt and I stuffed ourselves silly, which is one way to do it, but there is no reason you can't pop in for a drink and a few snacks.
Overall, the ambience, cocktails and food all combine for a wonderful addition to the Wellington Scene - like ginger, soy sauce and garlic the three marry in perfect harmony, and remain zinging on your palette long after. Hot Sauce is indeed the hot new place to be, and of course to eat, drink and be merry, in town.