After the failure of our attempts to eat a hāngi in New Zealand, when I saw this on the listing for Good Food Month in Melbourne I jumped on it straight away.
I convinced Eric and Juan to come along (well, it didn’t take much convincing), and so we met at The Common Man in Docklands after we cleaned up from the colour run. We were running a little late because we had stayed so long at The People’s Market pop-up bar, so I didn’t have a chance to wash my hair. It was FULL of pink paint, but I am hoping nobody noticed.
We walked down South Wharf, and as we came closer we saw there was a big skip bin out the front. Upon closer inspection, it was filled with soil – here is where our hāngi was cooking. This may be the first hāngi cooked in a bin…. and by an upmarket restaurant at that!
Hāngi is a particular method of cooking used by the Māori, where they cook food for several hours on heated stones, buried underground. It renders the meats tender, the vegetables smoky, and the whole meal earthy and rich. I am a HUGE fan, and was so disappointed to miss the opportunity to have some in New Zealand.
But this was a good substitute, a one of a kind type meal. We started off with some espresso martinis while we were waiting.
Then we were taken to our long tables and the food started coming out from the kitchen.
First course was Karengo steamed Mount Martha mussels, piri piri cured atlantic salmon, horopito & lemon mayo tuna tartar and house bread with sea urchin butter. The butter was incredible, as the sea urchin provided a rich, oceany saltiness rather than your conventional sea salt flakes for bread.
For the main course, out came the hāngi. It was Moondara Wagyu Brisket with Kawakawa rub, served with earthy, sweet purple potatoes with honey and sea salt; sweet potatoes with thyme; broccolini with horopito & piri piri dressing.
There was SO much food, Juan was so upset we couldn’t possibly finish it all. Look at all that wagyu going to waste!