Vanessa Ortynsky explores the newly re-opened Sala Sala.
A large estate stands out from Papanui Road, beckoning dinners from Merivale and beyond. The windows catch the early evening sun, and the fit-out makes Sala Sala the perfect setting for an evening out.
Sala Sala reopened under new management at the beginning of this year, and it’s quickly becoming a mainstay in Christchurch’s culinary landscape. The new menu incorporates a variety of Asian dishes and is renowned for its Peking duck.
We begin our meal with fresh salmon sashimi and pork, and chive dumplings cleverly warmed over tea-light candles. The steamed dumplings are ever-so-slightly pan-fried and served with soy sauce and chilli for extra zing.
As per the owner Victor’s recommendation, we share the Peking duck for our main course. The Chinese speciality needs to be prepared a day in advance. The extensive cooking process means it’s often absent from the menus of contemporary Asian establishments.
Having indulged in Peking duck a handful of times both in New Zealand and Hong Kong, it’s safe to say the duck on offer at Sala Sala tops the list for quality. Tender, succulent and crispy, the duck is served contemporary style with both skin and meat rather than only the crispy skin (which is customary in Hong Kong). The thin crêpe-style pancakes maintain their temperature thanks to bamboo steamers, in which boiled water sizzles for at least 10 minutes upon arriving at our table. The combination of the light crêpe and tender duck doused in plum sauce is an unbeatable combination, and we quickly devour the entire dish.
They say you should judge a man by the company he keeps, and I think you should judge a restaurant by the quality of its Peking duck. Sala Sala has artfully mastered this delicacy. Whether or not you’re one for Peking duck, however, you’ll still love the carefully selected menu at this fine establishment.
Sala Sala • 142 Papanui Road, Merivale • 03 355 5932
Tuesdays-Sundays: Lunch 11.30am-2pm, Dinner 5.30pm until late