Wellington restaurant Hiakai singled out on Lonely Planet's Best in Travel list

Hiakai offers a seven course menu experience.
Hiakai offers a seven course menu experience. Photo credit: Facebook / Hiakai

A Wellington restaurant has been singled out on Lonely Planet's 'Best in Travel 2021' list.

The Lonely Planet's 'Best in Travel' list is usually based on the most exceptional places to put on your travel list.

But the infamous travel guide decided to make this year's list different - by recognising places that show a genuine commitment to Sustainability, Community and Diversity.

Chef Monique Fiso's Wellington restaurant Hiakai won a diversity award for the best indigenous food.

The fine-dining restaurant specialising in Māori Cuisine uses "native ingredients and indigenous cooking techniques".

This restaurant is "something Kiwis can be proud of," Lonely Planet contributor Sarah Reid says.

"From foraging for unique native ingredients like mamaku (black tree fern), and paua (an endemic abalone), to cooking in a traditional hāngi (earth oven), the Māori people of Aotearoa (New Zealand) possess culinary traditions that are uniquely their own."

The restaurant Hiakai (te reo for 'hungry), opened in 2018 following a pop-up restaurant series.

Chef Monique Fiso, who made a name for herself in New York working in Michelin-star restaurants, decided to return home to Wellington to open up her own business.

"Diners can expect to experience warm manaakitanga (Māori hospitality) while tucking into a degustation menu that doesn’t just explore the possibilities of native ingredients, but also how they relate to Māori myths and legends."

Lonely Planet president and CEO Luis Cabrera says in light of COVID-19, they've had to reinvent themselves.

"As our world came to a full stop this year, we looked in the mirror to reflect on how we can best empower our readers to travel responsibly and become agents of positive change."

"And that's only the beginning. We salute all the winners!"