4a Crantock Street
Tel: 01637 850440
There is a change in the air in Newquay a change for the culinary good. I spent a few days camping near Newquay earlier this month and was pleasantly surprised to find this old seaside town has had a new lease of life. Maybe the Padstow effect is taking hold, as it is just a short drive down the coast? Maybe it is Cornwall with is burgeoning culinary prowess? Whatever it, is it’s catching.
Little Kahuna is a tiny restaurant that is equal in charm as it is in accomplishment. Husband and wife team Ryan and Kelly Mather have drawn on their extensive travels in the Far East for the menu.
As with it’s diminutive size the menu is short too. I thought a platter of mixed starters would do nicely. I had worked up a fair appetite during the day walking on the beach near my campsite and wandering around the town.
Service here is with a smile and quick (one of the benefits of having only 18 covers – the kitchen is never really over burdened). There is a sense of style on show here as well as an understanding of Asian flavours. The menu contains Thai, Asian and Indian dishes, my starter had a natty little Thai salad, a spring roll, satay and some soy and chilli sauce. This was a fine collection with everything zinging with freshness and punchy flavour.
As this is a small place the walls have been cleverly left blank except for a small collection of original works of art from a local artist. Worth a look if you are in the market for a costal inspired piece of art for your wall.
My main was a Malaysian beef rendang curry. When cooked properly this dish is belter. Often cooked for weddings and ceremonies in Indonesia it has high status. When cooked correctly by slowly adding the coconut milk gradually so that the aromatics absorb it develops antimicrobial qualities. Once cooked it can last for up to four weeks, very useful in a hot country. Ryan’s version was bang on the money, in fact it was stacked next to the rice and salad on the plate such was its dryness, perfect and hot but with the spice flavours balanced carefully this was a total winner.
Desserts have a nod to the East but some don’t make the full trip at all. I had a salted caramel chocolate pot with raspberry compote and little grissini dipped in chocolate on the side. I started eating it with the grissini but soon ran out so used a spoon. This is lush smooth dessert with that counter flavour of salt complementing perfectly.
With my belly full (they also have pork belly on the menu … next time!) I had a chat with Ryan who was trained in Cornwall but has clearly eaten a lot of Asian food – he has a superb palette that knows just when things are right. There are plans to move to larger premises, I’d advise getting a table at Little Kahuna before they become a bit bigger Kahuna, I’m sure the food will be as good but I loved the dark, intimate dining room with the kitchen on full view.
As I made my way back to Trevornick Holiday Park where my Eurotent bed awaited I started wondering exactly what Kahuna means, it’s a Hawaiian word that is defined as a “priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession”. Need I say more? Just go.