A taste of Tiaki: inside New Zealand Pavilion's restaurant for Expo 2020 Dubai

Running for six months, the dining concept will dish up ingredients the country is known for in an elevated setting

Manuka honey, premium lamb and fresh-as-can-be seafood. There are some ingredients that New Zealand is known for and Tiaki, the official restaurant of the New Zealand pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, will pay tribute to all of them.

The pavilion recently unveiled its licensed concept, which launches on October 1 and will continue for the six-month duration of the Expo, and The National got a sneak peek.

Thought has clearly been put into every aspect of the restaurant, starting with its name. Tiaki means to care, safeguard, protect and preserve in the Maori language, underpinning the New Zealand pavilion’s theme for Expo 2020, which is to “care for people and place".

The 100-seat restaurant has a separate entrance in the pavilion, giving it an independent feel. With two sliding doors, Tiaki can be broken into three smaller areas, be it for conferences or more private dining experiences.

The interiors are sophisticated and modern, with plenty of wooden elements and an exposed ceiling, while New Zealand’s silver fern motif is displayed at the entrance.

Guests can choose between different types of seating arrangements at the indoor-only space, from bar stools to tables for sit-down dinners.

The furniture, tableware and statement lighting has been designed especially for the restaurant by prominent New Zealand brands such as Abodo, Citta, David Trubridge, Noho, Resident and Tim Webber Design.

“The restaurant is an important part of our overall experience,” says Clayton Kimpton, New Zealand’s commissioner-general to Expo 2020 Dubai.

“We wanted something that was sophisticated but also warm and friendly where people could come and relax. This is a place for a business discussion, a place to get to know the distributors, or simply have a meal or beverage and talk.”

On the menu are premium ingredients that the country is famed for, from sustainably sourced hoki fish, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken to a selection of cheese and honey.

The permanent menu will feature starters such as horopito-marinated salmon, greenshell mussels and Kapiti Akatea, a traditional baked Brie. Mains include seared Canterbury lamb cutlets, sustainably caught crumbed hoki fillet, slow-cooked pasture-raised venison, and a Kiwiburger made with beef or a mushroom vegetarian option.

Expect desserts such as a honey cake and an Anzac biscuit ice cream sandwich – both made with manuka honey – as well as New Zealand’s signature pavlova and a fresh fruit carpaccio made with kiwi fruit. There will also be rotating specials on the menu, in addition to permanent dishes.

Tiaki will be operated by Emirates Flight Catering, part of the Emirates Group. The menu was curated by a culinary team that visited New Zealand to source ingredients and beverages from experienced exporters.

“All the protein, honey and dairy are from New Zealand, as are most of the vegetables,” says Kimpton.

“Emirates Catering has made it easy as they’re used to getting produce from overseas. Moreover, everything on our menu you can buy here in Dubai. That has been important to our exporters.”

The pavilion also aims to support emerging talent through its restaurant. The culinary team has recruited three apprentice chefs from New Zealand, who will be working in the kitchen and representing their country at the global event.

“A core element for New Zealand at Expo is supporting and empowering youth talent, and our apprentice chefs will have the experience of a lifetime working alongside and learning from the experienced culinary team at Emirates Flight Catering," says Kimpton.

During Expo 2020, the pavilion will also showcase the country's farmers and producers, who will talk about their connection to the land, as well as bring some famous chefs from the country to the event as part of the Taste New Zealand campaign.

“We want to keep the menu fresh and mix things up,” says Kimpton.

Tiaki will be open daily at the New Zealand Pavilion, located in the Sustainability District, from 10am onwards. More information is available at nzatexpo.govt.nz

Updated: September 14th 2021, 10:17 AM