Removed yet revered, Dragonfly has no need to flaunt itself to passers by on Courtenay Place. Certainly an iconic establishment in Wellington's food scene, Dragonfly provides a unique experience emulated by no other. Like its namesake, Dragonfly is constantly abuzz with an energy that conflates sophistication with relaxation. The result? An atmosphere that is truly remarkable. Enjoy an intimate night inside under the soft red light, or perhaps bask in the open and breezy courtyard. However you want to do it, Dragonfly is indeed an immersive experience.
Bopping to the smooth beats of Fat Freddy's Drop and appreciating the charming bamboo courtyard, we were quickly served with cocktail menus. Opting for The Rickshaw ($14) on their weekly specials menu, I was delighted with a tart and tangy elixir that had a refreshing punch of Gingernut-infused vodka. Dragonfly's cocktail menu ranges from the classics to divine, original concoctions that often have an Asian twist. Perfect to sip away on a hot Wellington afternoon.
Dragonfly is not an Asian-fusion restaurant. Think traditional Asian cuisine — plucked from around the whole region — that is set in a contemporary setting. This saw us picking dishes that showcased the best of what Asia, and Dragonfly, could provide.
Beginning with takoyaki octopus balls ($14.50) and Korean-style fried chicken ($16.50), we were off to a flying start. The octopus balls were tantalising. The satisfying crunch of the batter and the silky smooth insides offered a pleasing balance. Coupled with Japanese barbecue sauce, mayo, roasted nori and bonito flakes, these were definitely a highlight of the meal. The fried chicken was what you would expect. Juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside with a sweet sesame glaze, this is a dish that will please all palates. Expertly paired with a refreshing Blackenbrook Gewürztraminer, we were ready for our mains.
A few minutes later, out came our twice cooked pork belly ($32) and red duck curry ($35). The pork belly boomed with full-bodied flavours. Imagine savoury and salty free range pork served in a sweet palm sugar black bean reduction. With pork belly, I have always been of the school of though that the fat needs to be crispy. This particular pork belly did not have that crunch. Instead, it melted on my tongue and was delicately tender. Crunchy water chestnuts, soft cloud mushrooms, broccoli and capsicum served as the perfect accompaniments. The duck curry was a vibrant creation that pops on the tastebuds. The warmth from the five spice makes this curry an ultimate comfort food while the pineapple, grapes and lime leaves provide some welcomed zest. Both of these meals can be complemented with the Akarua Riesling, a fruity and dry wine that lightens up the dishes.
Although the portions of these dishes may seem standard, they are rich. We found that splitting one dessert is plenty, particularly if you've just enjoyed a banquet like we did. Craving something fruity, we chose the black doris plum sago. This was absolutely gorgeous — both in taste and aesthetic. The sago pearls and coconut milk were a sensation of natural sweetness and dreamy creaminess. With a scoop of plum and star anise sorbet proudly on top, you'll appreciate the blend of sweet and sour. Of course, a tipple of Brookfields Indulgence Viogner was the perfect finish to what was simply a delightful evening.
The team at Dragonfly know exactly what they are doing. There are no distractions, no side projects — just a commitment to authentic and traditional Asian cuisine.