Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Leafee Café and Restaurant, Thorndon (NZ) by Benny

Situated in the pretty Thorndon village, just across from the Wellington Botanical Gardens, Leafee Cafe and Restaurant conjures up a magical transformation: during the daytime it offers a range of modern New Zealand breakfast and lunch options; in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday it turns Japanese, with some of the best food we have eaten outside of Tokyo, albeit with a Kiwi twist.

We had been warned by our local source to book first, as the restaurant is quite tiny. Despite the bleak wintry weather that may have deterred many potential diners, it was nearly full and we were very lucky to secure the last available table. But with bright orange walls, it was a snug and cosy refuge.

Leafee Cafe, Thorndon, New Zealand, Japanese, sushi
Bilby Blue and I shared an entrée platter, which included nigiri sushi, beef tataki and panko crumbed chicken. The sushi and chicken were good, but the beef was the absolute standout of the entire meal – very, very rare and melt-in-the-mouth tender.

Leafee Cafe, Thorndon, New Zealand, Japanese, panko pork
My main course panko crumbed pork with cabbage was very good, the cabbage and the dipping sauce nicely complementing the crunchy pork. Just a couple of niggles: the waitress had advised that a side dish of rice was not necessary – I disagree, and believe that the dish would have been even better with rice; and the pork was just a little too similar to the panko chicken in our entrée, but this was my fault for not choosing more thoughtfully.

Leafee Cafe, Thorndon, New Zealand, Japanese, salmon
Bilby’s salmon with a kumara croquette and green beans was excellent – in true Japanese style the chef let the quality of the raw ingredients speak for themselves, with the buttery salmon being the highlight. She was happy with the dish as is, and said the kumara supplied quite enough carbs – no rice was needed.

Leafee Cafe, Thorndon, New Zealand, Japanese, green tea ice cream
We finished off by sharing a green tea ice cream which was served with a small jug of white hot chocolate, raspberry sauce and flaked almonds. It was a really interesting fusion (in a good way) of flavours and textures – the sharpness of green tea, sweetness from the white chocolate, acidity from the raspberry and crunch from the almonds with the underlying velvety ice cream. Definitely a dish in which you need to combine all the disparate elements to enjoy.

Leafee Cafe, Thorndon, New Zealand, Japanese


We loved it


Some of the best Japanese food we have eaten – we would definitely return. We were told that the menu changes frequently, taking advantage of what ingredients are available at the time. And we would also be keen to check out the non-Japanese breakfast and lunch options.

Find it at

Leafee Cafe and Restaurant
320 Tinakori Road
Wellington, New Zealand
Telephone: +64 (0)4 939 8113

Leafee Cafe & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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