There are certain names in the New Zealand restaurant industry that are guaranteed to generate buzz when heard alongside the words “new opening”. Sid and Chand Sahrawat are two such names, as the successful restaurateurs behind Sid at the French Café, Cassia and Sidart (recently sold to long-time head chef Lesley Chandra).
Their latest venture, KOL, proves the buzz is warranted, bringing them back into the heart of Ponsonby, this time leaning into fiery flavours and inventive techniques.
“While the food and cocktail menu is Indian inspired, you won’t find a curry on the menu. As we did with Cassia, we like changing perceptions around what Indian cuisine is – and can be – and we want to get back to the traditional way of cooking while also championing great New Zealand producers and produce,” explains Sid.
Head chef Vicky Shah leads the kitchen, devising a menu inspired by the Indian chula, a traditional form of cooking over fire. This fiery element runs through the considered menu that’s divided into bites, small dishes and large dishes.
In the bites section, the Paua and Sweetcorn Chaat – a delicate balance of fresh flavours beautifully presented in a paua shell – is a standout, while the Vindaloo Fries are another must-try.
Its clear where Shah works best is in the realm of charred, spicy flavour combinations, deliciously demonstrated in the Chicken and Saffron Kebab with Burnt Onion and umami-rich Oyster Mushrooms with Ghost Chilli and Macadamia.
While concise – currently consisting of two options – the dessert menu is also not to be missed, our favourite being the inventive naan ice cream, a creamy, gelato-like dessert that leaves you wondering how they got naan tasting so good.
The cocktails are also a standout at KOL, curated by bar manager Mangesh Shah. The oh-so Instagrammable Arils is served with a theatrical smoky bubble, while the wine list also pairs wonderfully with the dishes.
KOL is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5pm (dinner only) and Friday to Sunday, 12pm until late. Visit kolauckland.co.nz