Snapper offers a delicious glimpse into what New Zealand has in store for foodies.
By Emmi Laine
Remember the days when entire families gathered around one newspaper? Mark Willis, co-owner of Snapper, New Zealand Seafood Restaurant does. But not in the way you might expect. “Our fondest memories were always wrapped in yesterday’s news,” he says at Snapper´s website.
Willis retells how, after a day of surfing or watching an All Blacks rugby game, someone comes in with a newspaper wrap. Inside was a scoop of this and that: mussels, hake, grouper, king fish, and of course, snapper. The exceptional paper plate was smeared by ketchup, and everyone shared. “New Zealand (NZ) has fantastic seafood, but where do you see Kiwi restaurants?” asks Willis. “Opening this restaurant was a chance to show what we have.”
The restaurant opened on Sukhumvit 11 in 2011, and soon took over two properties next door. They have room for 150 customers now, on cozy blue couches under seafaring memorabilia, as well as on a relaxed terrace. The only thing missing from the picture is the ocean.
“One of the best aspects to NZ food is the unspoiled ocean,” says Willis. Most of Snapper´s fish has a NZ tag on it, caught deep and wild, a pure natural product. The menu presents a dizzying range: over 70 entries, over 40 of which is seafood.
The staff is eager to interpret the exotic names to new customers: tarakihi for fishier tastebuds, orange roughy for fish-non-believers, spring lamb for fish-forsakers. The next choice is the cooking method: grilled, pan-fried, battered, crumbed or deep-fried? Aspirations for a healthy diet point to the left side of this list, while fatty cravings steer to the right.
I take both sides, starting from the milder and healthier toward the fishier and heavier. First the NZ orange roughy (Bt480++) with a NZ butter and lemon sauce. Mild, indeed. The taste of this pan-fried white fish is almost non-existent. Consequently this dish is perfect for the fuzzier eaters. Accolades to the chef for not overpowering the natural flavor with too many spices; a drop of lemon will do.
Next crumbed NZ tarakihi (Bt200++), a generously sized fish fillet with homemade garlic aioli. True to the tradition of fish & chips, the dish arrives on newspaper, except separated by a white hygienic layer — now legislated adjustment to this working class dish from the late 19th century UK. This specific one should not disappoint any chippy-regulars of today. The succulent white fish reminds of British cod, and the batter is just right: voluminous yet fragile, with a crispy mouthfeel.
Tasting Plates (from Bt280++ to Bt750++) are our highest recommendation here, as one can mix mussels, scallops, salmon, calamari, and prawns with different batters and debate on the best combo with friends or family. Of course, all these should be enjoyed with fries: especially homemade Kumera fries (Bt160++), cut from sweet potatoes. They are addictively crispy and salty on top, but fluffy and sweet inside.
All in all, Snapper offers an authentic Kiwi experience, made from fresh produce and easy atmosphere; perfect for family gatherings — not such a bad way to use your newspaper at all.