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Seoul food produces a soul burger

Circus restaurant manager Natalia Bellini with chefs Shane Fauaina and Kapila Galhenage. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

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After the success of their first Wellington On A Plate last year, Martinborough’s Circus Cinema Restaurant is ready for its second act.

Inspired by Korean cuisine, with a touch of South America, ‘The Soul of Seoul’ would see a Korean-style spiced beef patty with barbecued pork belly, kimchi, pickled cucumber and cabbage slaw served in a Clareville Bakery brioche bun, with tempura vegetables, hand cut wedges and bacon and chilli mayonnaise.

A vegetarian alternative using a vegetable patty would also be available.

Chefs Shane Fauaina and Kapila Galhenage are behind the creation, but the wider Circus team helped with its conception.

“The whole thing is a family affair, so everyone had to put in, then it was up to me and Kapila to bring it together really,” Fauaina says.

“We just add flavour and bring it to life, as chefs do.”

The pair created more than a few trial burgers before settling on their final creation.

“I’m not going to say it was that easy, I’m not Gordon Ramsay,” Fauaina said.

Galhenage said the inspiration came from typical Korean ingredients and flavours, such as rice, Korean barbecues, kimchi, and spices.

“The theme was ‘Out of place’,” Fauaina said.

“With Koreans, a burger is not really their type of thing … you don’t really see a Korean burger joint.”

Tempura, often thought to be Japanese, originated from somewhere in South America, he said. These multicultural elements combined to create a burger that was truly out of place.

The restaurant’s entry into last year’s festival was also inspired by creating new fusion flavours.

“Last year it was a play on Kapila’s background and myself, Sri Lankan and Samoan,” Fauaina said. This burger was so popular that a variation of it is still on the menu.

Restaurant manager Natalia Bellini expects this year will be even busier, with covid lockdowns having less of an impact.

“People are more confident in going out,” she says.

“We’ve got many customers trying all the burgers, at least here [in Martinborough].

“It’s like a game. People want to try them all and do their own ranking.”

Fauaina agreed, saying the festival brought more people into the region.

“I think Wellington On A Plate is pretty good, especially for Wairarapa. It’s a growing little town.

“Especially when you see families come in and try the burger and you see their faces.”

  • Wellington On A Plate will take place from August 1-31. For more information, visit www.visawoap.com

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