Asian cuisine with a Kiwi twist

New flavour: Tao restaurant's head chef Justin Zhang, left, and chef Leng Zonglin

A new Queenstown restaurant is serving up grub with a nod to northern China.

Tao, on Athol Street, opened last week after a pricey kit-out.

Boss Phillip Wei has been eyeing up the resort for a while but says finding the right location was challenging.

There were a couple of potential locations in Frankton but he wanted a business in the centre of town.

“I took the first one that was available in the market. [This] one site was the only option we had but I think it is a good spot.”

Wei has spent about $250,000 get-ting the business off the ground.

That includes paying for the lease, initial rent and a $120,000 revamp.

This is the second of Wei’s three restaurants.

He already runs Tao in Auckland, where he is based, and plans to open a Dunedin operation later in the year.

Each will offer slightly different menus and the decor will vary between locations.

He wants the Queenstown eatery to be a local hotspot, as well as serving the growing number of Chinese visitors.

The Asian cuisine will be traditional Chinese fare – with a New Zealand twist.

Sweet and sour pork on the menu switches pineapple for kiwifruit.

Dumplings come colour-coded using spinach and squid ink in the dough.

A team of chefs has moved down from Auckland. All worked for Wei at the sister restaurant.

The new business is hiring seven people in total and Wei doesn’t rule out more appointments.

Wei, who is originally from Tian-jin in north-eastern China, has lived in NZ for 16 years.

He has no plans to move to the resort but he’ll visit regularly to help out and keep an eye on things.