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July 20, 2014 | by  | in Food Opinion |
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Red Hill [Review]

Location: 119 Manners St
Cuisine: Chinese
Price: Moderate
BYO: Oh yes. Also karaoke.
Rating: 8.5/10

I’ve heard it said that if you provide the event, Red Hill will provide the party. Which – having never been there before – sounded both unlikely and like an advertisement for home insulation. However, having ventured up its narrow and terrifying stairs for the first time (no BYO restaurant should ever make you navigate more than four), I have to say that it’s true.

An important public-service announcement: do not, do NOT go to this restaurant on one of the party nights if you aren’t wanting a wild night. It converts into a karaoke bar at ten-ish, with a screen at the front and a microphone passing around. On the night I went, even before then, the noise levels had risen to unacceptable-if-sober-and-tired, and the table next to us were wearing their napkins in a culturally insensitive way. Despite the fact that the restaurant was fully booked (always a good sign), the staff were attentive.

Unusually for a Chinese restaurant, Red Hill has an extensive vegetarian menu, which made me very happy. After long deliberations (for which I apologise to those unlucky enough to sit by me), I ordered the Homestyle Tofu with Vegetables and Black Fungus. It wasn’t bad, and was saved from a generic-Chinese-takeaway flavour by plenty of ginger. I enjoyed the tofu particularly, and the texture of the fungus.

Overall, I liked Red Hill a lot, and would go there again for a large BYO. Although my food wasn’t hugely memorable, the atmosphere was heaps of fun. Wellington has a shortage of interesting BYO restaurants for large groups, and a plethora of bland establishments whose main distinguishing feature is that you can get drunk there. Red Hill is a place you’ll remember going; one that helps make your night rather than simply hosting it. Put it this way: at one point the smoke alarm went off and firemen came into the middle of the restaurant, there was alcohol in teapots, and a friend of mine almost cried when Blue came on the karaoke machine. I don’t ask much more of my evenings than that.


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