Lake Wānaka attracts visitors from all over the world, many of whom decide to call this place home after falling in love with the quality of life, which is then reflected in an eclectic line-up of international food offerings.
We’ve done the hard work for you and pulled together some of Wānakas best to tell the history of kai (food) and culture that each business owner shares with our community.
If owner and chef Ashraf isn’t in the kitchen cooking, then Ashrafs simply isn’t open. True story! Ashrafs’ Indian restaurant has to be the most quaint and authentic cuisine there is on offer in Wānaka. Here you will find traditional Kashmiri-inspired Indian cuisine. It’s truly a hidden gem and the price point is just as attractive as the food. Known for their relaxed atmosphere and loaded with locals who dub it as “the best” handmade garlic naan bread out there. Take note that Ashraf and his family travel back home to India every June and July, so plan your trip wisely!
Side note – if you have a hankering for asian-cuisine (be it for a Vietnamese pho, Japanese ramen or a Filipino beef noodle soup) then you can’t go past the Noods Food Truck on Brownston street. Among the array of asian-inspired noodle dishes, you will also find your classics with such as kimchi fried rice, salmon poke bowl and butter chicken.
Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner – crêpes are appropriate. Adrienne, one of the co-founders of Charlie Brown Crêpes, has been serving up traditional crepes in Wānaka for over 6 years. Sweet or savory you can’t go wrong, everything is made from scratch with the highest quality ingredients, and there is even a buckwheat crêpe option (galette) for a gluten free option. Fun fact: the caravan is a renovated vintage 1975 European model that came all the way from France to Lake Wānaka! Post-crepe head across the road to lose yourself in Next Chapter Books or catch a movie at Paradiso Cinemas.
The kitchen in Big Fig is about the size of a standard kitchen you would find in a family home and is in fact the very reason why the concept of family-style food was chosen. The two owners and sisters Chrissie and Sharon Lahood, inspired by their Lebanese heritage, offer modern Middle Eastern eats that are seasonal, delicious and healthy. The key point of difference? Their food is mostly slow cooked yet served fast from a bain marie-style servery for your convenience. Dine in or take it away in a compostable container (or better yet your own bowl) to eat by the lakefront. You will never get bored with the mixing-and-matching of endless options of meats, roasted vegetables, salads, gozleme, juices and desserts on offer.
For all of your sushi cravings Yohei is a must when in Wānaka. You will most likely be greeted by Mr Lee, owner and sushi-wizard. Each day you will find a fresh selection of handmade sushi rolls from teriyaki and katsu chicken to classic California, plus heaps of vegetarian options. If you are looking for something a little warm, their Japanese curry and Udon noodle soup really hits the spot! You can dine in, but if you choose to takeaway Yohei encourages people to bring their container.
This family-run Korean restaurant is not only known for having generous meal sizes and wonderful hospitality, but also for hosting birthdays and special occasions. Shinaburo can seat up to 20 people per table, offering a corkage fee if you BYO alcohol, and both a menu and price point that caters to many. Don’t go past trying one of their signature and most recommended dishes Bibimbap – a stone roasted bowl of mixed rice, seasonal vegetables, fried eggs and your choice of protein.
The moment you walk through the door you will feel warmly welcomed by the owner and workers at Gusto – their hospitality service is second to none. Situated on the lakefront, Gusto is well known for their freshly cooked meals and their good-sized portions, made with only the best traditional Chinese and Cantonese ingredients. They offer daily lunch specials and are open every evening for dinner. Choose to dine-in and enjoy the mountain landscape whilst you eat or opt to take it away to the Dinosaur Park whilst the kids play! Bring your own containers when you can.