Lively cross-cultural innovation from a trans-Tasman couple.
WHY CHOOSE THIS RESTAURANT?
Owners Thom Millott and Natasha (Tashie) Piper envisage Amok as part restaurant/part wine bar, but for now it’s being led by the food, which is undoubtedly exciting.
ABOUT THE FOOD
While it’s not exactly fusion run amok, the style is so wildly eclectic as to defy easy categorisation. Perhaps you could call it Womad fare: Māori-Italian as in kina and lardo toast; East-West as in XO clams and gnocchi. There’s a touch of cheekiness, too, with dish titles like Fusilli and Fungi and Party ’n Bullshit in which Garage Project’s beer, Party ’n Bullshit, is mixed into a highly original sauce of caramelised yeast, sweetish but sharpened with lemon juice, which thankfully reveals no bitter aftertaste from the hops. It magnificently complements grey oyster mushrooms mixed through delightfully untidy, curly rags of house-made pasta. Begin with the witlof and walnut whip (a soft dip served with witlof leaves) then barbecued duck breast, that while correctly rendered of most of its fattiness, nevertheless remains distinctly so – and as such, finds a perfect foil in the cleansing acidity of thin, crunchy slices of fermented plum.
ABOUT THE CHEF
Thom had been cooking at Poly in Sydney’s Surry Hills, as a protégé of celebrity chef Mat Lindsay, named Chef of the Year by his peers at the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards in 2017. Thom is determined to shed the overt influences (the first version of his walnut whip, with tamari, he dismissed as “too Poly”), but Lindsay’s cross-cultural approach inevitably shows. Where the cooking at Poly is done over a wood fire, Thom has chosen to use charcoal, the flavour of which comes through assertively in eggplant, tahini and salsa verde – yet another example of Amok’s unexpected yet harmonious fusion.
ABOUT THE TEAM
New Zealand-born Tashie, (ex-Wellington’s Havana Bar), has hired her front-of-house staff wisely and well and they pepper informed suggestions with friendly chat. Tashie explains her trans-Tasman wine list as a way of helping out the Australian winegrowers who were badly affected by last year’s bush fires.
The aura of cheekiness extends to the wine list, with Block Party 2020 from Garage Project: it challenges the rules by mixing red grapes with aromatic whites and is refreshing on a hot summer’s evening, especially served chilled.