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East Meets West in Wellington

27 February 2014

East Meets West in Wellington

Chinese philosopher Kong Fuzi (Confucius) once said “Wherever you go; go with all your heart”. As the National Museum of China prepares to send a prestigious double exhibition to Te Papa, we take a look at the fusion of East Asian flavours and experiences you can find in the capital for a long weekend you’ll absolutely positively love.

CULTURAL EXCHANGES

CHINA at Te Papa (22 Mar - 22 Jun)

Throne of Emperors tells the story of 2000 years of China through personalities, politics and imperial lifestyles of seven Emperors of China, one from each of the major dynasties ranging from 221 BCE to 1911. Items on display include silks, earthenware, silver, scrolls, jade, porcelain, and a model of a ship from the Ming Dynasty. Get a unique insight into the history, culture and personality of one of the world’s greatest civilisations.

In Shi Lu: A Revolution in Paint discover the art of a modern master of Chinese painting who maintained his unique artistic vision during a time of political and cultural revolution. Shi Lu was a modern Chinese artist whose life was full of adventure, frustration, and tragedy. Shi Lu painted in the traditional literati style, known for his images of labouring people and animals on the highlands and in the lofty mountains of his home province. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution Shi Lu was imprisoned, and his paintings were branded as "crazy, odd, black and chaotic."

If you’re visiting Wellington towards the end of CHINA‘s time at Te Papa, be sure to take a short walk to City Gallery Wellington (Civic Square) and check out Seung YulOh: MOAMOA which runs from May 31 to August 24. The Korean-New Zealand artist’s playful shapes and colourful forms will delight and engage. Born in Seoul in 1981, Seung Yul Oh attracted early attention with an exhibition in which he deep fried all his paintings. MOAMOA is the first major survey exhibition of the large-scale sculpture work of the artist recently described by the Guardian UK as ‘one of the rising stars of the Asian art market’.

WOK STARS

Yum cha dining is a regular ritual and rite of passage for many Wellingtonians. This traditional Chinese style is all about hand-prepared morsels of delicious dim sum dumplings, steamed buns, rice rolls and more, all washed down with tea. It’s a great alternative for a Sunday brunch (be sure to book), and the city has a number of restaurants that specialise including Majestic Cuisine, Regal Chinese Restaurant, Big Thumb Restaurant, and Grand Century Chinese Restaurant – all on or just off Courtenay Place.

For evening dining, Dragonfly (70 Courtenay Place) is a sophisticated dining lounge with a modern Southeast-Asian menu. The décor is cool and dark and you can tuck yourselves away in a secluded booth or relax in the hidden courtyard. Choose a selection of dishes to share, and match with some classy cocktails, craft beer or local wines. If you’re in town on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, keep an eye out for their special drink deals.

For Japanese-style dining try Arashi Kushiyaki Bar (41 Courtenay Place). Kushiyaki refers to skewer-grilled dishes of seafood, beef, pork, chicken or vegetables, and are the house speciality. But a wide range of Japanese cuisine is available at this lively, popular eatery. For the traditional Japanese experience, reserve a low table and take a seat on tatami mats.

AFTER DINNER DELIGHTS

As the Japanese proverb says, we're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. At Good Luck Bar (126 Cuba Street) the atmosphere is cool, with a sense of fun and as the DJ spins super fly jazzy beats you can get your groove on. Dance-related thirst can be managed with a selection from Good Luck’s fabulous cocktail menu, based on the I Ching system of divination. A combo of hip swinging and delicious mysticism makes for a good night at Good Luck.

At Ancestral (31-33 Courtenay Place), as the name suggests, they build a future on the foundations of the past. The atmosphere evokes 1930s Shanghai where traditional values mixed with international influences to create something unmistakeably modern. This approach extends to the drinks list where an old-school structure arranges concoctions along historical lines; cocktails, smashes, fizzes, juleps, sours, highballs and more, while ingredients reflect the experimental spirit of modern mixology.

MARKET PLACES

Street market shopping may not be unique to East Asia, though many say it was perfected there. In Wellington, market shopping Kiwi-style regularly brings people together to explore, buy, taste and be entertained.

The Harbourside outdoor market is open every Sunday morning in a beautiful location next to Te Papa. Swing by after checking out the CHINA exhibitions to collect fresh fruit and vegetables, hot food and artisan produce. Musicians play and a fishing boat pulls up alongside to sell that morning’s catch.

Next door the indoor City Market is for real food enthusiasts. From boutique wineries and bakeries, cheeses, chocolates and much more, you can taste delicious produce and meet the makers. For example, Vicky Ha from House of Dumplings showcases her hand-crafted, all natural, free range dumplings and will talk passionately with customers about her philosophy of food.

Vicky’s dumplings can also be found at the bustling Wellington Night Market, along with a whole raft of international food stalls. A joyful riot of colour, aroma and music, the Night Market fills Cuba Street’s Left Bank arcade every Wednesday andFriday night.

Philosopher, poet and author of the Tao Te Ching, Laozi once wrote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. To take a step towards planning your next weekend getaway, visit WellingtonNZ.com.

ENDS

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