A happy harmony between Asian hawker-style streetfood and seasonal Kiwi ingredients.
After a positively tumultuous opening week (entailing running out of every dish), you could say it's all go at Mr. Go's.
Owner Dean White, an O.G Wellingtonian, has returned from his last gig running Auckland's Bird on a Wire to begin his own venture. Mr. Go's aims to serve Asian hawker-style street food using fresh seasonal Kiwi ingredients. It's a winning combination (full table after full table, every night is testament to this). Part of the intrigue is in the name- who is this Mr. Go?
It's named for Ah Go, a Chinese market gardener who tended his plot on Lower Tasman Street in Mt. Cook—just up the road from the restaurant today—back in Wellington's early days of 1882. Pushed from his land by the city's council, who intended to run a culvert and bypass his stream which he used to water his gardens; he suggested the peaceful harmony of the council, market gardeners of the area and the residents. Why couldn't they subsist together? Despite a sad ending to the tale, Dean is endeavouring to express Go's vision through Mr. Go's—a harmonious in-between.
The interior is a happy cross between a modern industrial joint, where'd you'd go to for a drink and some food before a gig; and a family-run fast food spot, with its backlit takeaway board above the bar and classic kiwi padded vinyl chairs. It's cheerful, affordable and quick—the kind of spot to visit every few weeks as opposed to every few months. The sleek presentation of dishes and the interesting tableware sets Mr. Go's at a level you'd bring visiting friends to eat at, although they've got you covered if takeaway-on-the-couch is more your jam.
The food itself is fresh, considered and leaves you utterly satisfied. Ordering a steamed Gua-Bao (available with Pork, Fish, Chicken, Pork Belly or Tofu) and accompanying it with some sides is the way to go—you'll get a taste of all the punchy flavour combinations Dean and his chef Roselea Gupwell (formerly of the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt) have devised, most inspired by Dean's time travelling throughout Asia. One of the best things about the menu is its price point—nothing is over $15. We like that.
We opted for a Fish Gua-Bao, glazed with palm sugar and packed with coriander, lemongrass pickled veges and tamarind mayo ($10). Accompanying it with Taiwanese popcorn chicken with Thai basil mayo ($12); crispy squid (and zesty yuzu mayo at $12.50); beef skewers with a particularly good Fix and Fogg 'Fire and Smoke' Peanut Sauce ($12); and Udon noodles tossed with Asian mushrooms, broccoli, light wasabi and soy ($8 or $12); we had just enough space to squeeze in a charred pineapple, coconut ice-cream, ginger salted caramel shortcake ($9). It was a delicious trip; a flowing combination of balanced flavours bursting with fresh, seasonal produce and interpreted in an interesting, thoughtful way. I loved the way all of the textures worked within the dishes, an experience that felt fully rounded out once we were done. I wasn't left wanting for anything, except maybe the paua dumplings—unfortunately sold out on the busy Saturday night we were there.
The drinks list has an awesome round up of New Zealand's craft beers, and the wine list has some really good drops too. A Gardens Cooler cocktail (consisting of Rogue Society Gin, cucumber, Aperol, grapefruit, Yuzu syrup at a super-reasonable $12) and a glass of the red IPA guest tap rounded out our eats at Mr. Go's.
Find their Instagram here.
Photography credit: James O'Neill.