Contemporary Samoan cuisine is ready for the spotlight as the team at TALA prepares to welcome their first guests this Friday 3 November.
Chef Henry Onesemo and wife Debby are thrilled to open New Zealand’s only restaurant dedicated to modern Samoan food in Auckland’s Parnell, with bookings filling fast already.
A journey of modern Samoan food
Born and raised in Samoa, Henry Onesemo’s aim at TALA is to showcase the diverse food and flavours of his homeland, reimagined in a playful way to give guests a fresh insight into Samoa’s traditional dishes and hospitality. He has created two dining journeys—each one inspired by different elements of Samoan food heritage from Henry’s own experience growing up in Samoa, as well as traditional story-telling.
The ‘Chef’s Journey’ is the ultimate TALA experience, seated at the Chef’s Counter for direct views of the kitchen and interaction with the chefs. Guests can watch as each course is prepared and then served to them by the chefs. The ‘Fāgogo Journey’ is a slightly shorter menu, with guests seated in the intimate atmosphere of the main restaurant on the luxurious banquette.
Menu highlights include a showcase dish cooked in the umu (a traditional Samoan above-ground oven of hot stones) in front of diners—the ‘Umu Chicken’ is wrapped in banana leaves with herbs and citrus. A fun take on childhood snacks of raw ramen, taro and banana chips also features, alongside the feasting dish of ‘Sapasui’ with lamb and pork belly. ‘Umu Sweets’ and a coffee bean blend from local roastery Kokako combined with Koko Samoa make for a special finish.
Traditional aspects of Samoan life are also woven into the TALA dining experience: guests will receive an offering upon arrival and take part in the ‘apa fafano’—a traditional handwashing ceremony. A curated beverage match will be available with each menu, or guests can choose from a selection of local wines, beers and non-alcoholic beverages—including a range of mocktails created especially for TALA.
Bookings open now
TALA seats 28 diners and offers two sittings per night for the ‘Chef’s Journey’, with more availability for the ‘Fāgogo Journey’. A bar concept called ‘Inu’ is also scheduled to open in Summer 2023/24.