NZ’s only contemporary Samoan restaurant to open in former Pasture premises

by | Sep 6, 2023 | News

New Zealand’s only restaurant dedicated to contemporary Samoan cuisine, has secured a site in Auckland’s Parnell and will open in late October.

TALA is the creation of Samoan-born chef Henry Onesemo (ex-Meredith’s, Apero and East St. Hall) and wife Debby. It will blend traditional Samoan hospitality with a contemporary interpretation of Samoan flavours for a unique dining experience.

The new TALA restaurant will be at 235 Parnell Road (formerly the site of Pasture). It will seat approximately 28 diners inside, and a bar deck will open in Summer 2023/24. Confirmation of the site follows a sell-out TALA pop-up dining series at Auckland’s Bar Magda in June this year.

The Samoan word “tala” means “story” or “tale” and Henry will combine these ancient practices with modern cooking techniques to tell his own tales of Samoa through dishes inspired by his Samoan heritage and childhood but revisited and refined.

A dining journey at TALA. The TALA menu will offer a choice of dining ‘journeys’, with each one a series of dishes inspired by different elements of Samoan food heritage from Henry’s own experience growing up in Samoa, as well as traditional story-telling. Traditional aspects of Samoan life will be woven into the TALA experience too, beginning with guests receiving an offering as they arrive into the restaurant space.

Menu highlights will include showcase dishes cooked in the traditional umu in front of diners, such as ‘Spatchcock Chicken’. The brined and spatchcocked chicken will be wrapped in banana leaves with herbs and citrus and cooked in the hot stones in view of the restaurant.

Other menu items will include a dish inspired by childhood snacks of raw ramen, taro and banana chips; the fresh flavours of cured salmon with coconut, wasabi, sago and green banana; the feasting dish of ‘Sapasui’ with lamb and pork belly; Henry’s surprising take on Wattie’s Mixed Veg; and ‘Umu Sweets’ as tasty treats to finish.

Debby and Henry Onesemo have also built a relationship with the Hospitality faculty at MSL Training in Manukau and were thrilled to work with their Pasifika students at the Bar Magda pop-up dinners. Going forward, the couple plans to offer students employment opportunities where possible at TALA.

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