Moiety is a fresh and exciting addition to Dunedin’s vibrant warehouse precinct, housed in the smartly refurbished 1880s Railway Central Terminus Hotel building.

Inside, the walls have been stripped back, exposing bare bricks, rough concrete beams and iron pillars, and the concrete floor has been polished. The effect is both edgy and, with the addition of padded banquettes and comfortable chairs, welcoming. A long bar allows those seated there to watch and chat with the chefs working in the open kitchen behind, adding to the casual ambience and intimate feel of the small, 25-seat restaurant – not to mention getting an insight into Sam’s cuisine.

Returning to New Zealand after 15 years working in hospitality overseas, former Dunedinites Sam Gasson and Kim Underwood offer a five-course degustation menu that changes regularly, along with a few shared plates and a small but interesting drinks list.

Sam is fascinated by Japanese flavours and the ethos of Japanese cuisine and his menu reflects an innovative, contemporary interpretation using local ingredients and some molecular techniques. Like the decor, the presentation is careful and spare.

A superb example is his first plate – asparagus, almond, black vinegar, yolk and wakame – with its surprising textures and flavours. The pickled asparagus was both velvety and crunchy, the dressing sweet and sour with an undertone of umami, the egg-shaped ball of foam delicious, light but slightly grainy with finely ground almond and a sprinkling of shaved duck-egg yolk and wakame, while finely julienned radish on the side added a fresh crunch.

Next came a small square of ikijime- killed trumpeter from southern waters, cured with fennel and horopito. It was topped with a salad of wilted kale, tiny potato balls and a sprinkling of crisp-puffed wild rice. Ikijime fish, line caught and killed with a spike in the brain, is both juicier and more humane, explains Kim. Again Sam has shown himself a master of texture and flavour with the soft, silky, sweet saltiness of the fish, the crunchy rice, the slightly chewy potato, and the freshness of the dressing and lemon gel.

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