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Here's how to experience the best of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Wellington without a trip to Japan. We've put together a list of the best bars for viewing the game, where to get some sake or a Japanese beer and some of the best Japanese food in Wellington, plus find out the All Black's favourite things to do when they're in town.
Check out list of the All Blacks' favourite things to do in Wellington - from doing a training run up Mount Victoria to visiting Te Papa, getting some kai at the Harbourside Market and tackling the nightlife on Courtenay Place, make like an All Black and check out some of these activities during the Rugby World Cup.
Bambuchi San specialises in delicious small plates that are perfect for sharing. Expect Japanese favourites like gyoza, sushi and yakitori and a drinks menu that features sake along with wine and craft beer. Bambuchi San is a friendly neighbourhood eatery that's great for groups and families and for caters well for dietary requirements – their must-try dish of tempura avocado is coated with deliciously crispy gluten-free batter.
Noodle house turned burger joint, Chicken Karaage is the new iteration of The Ramen Shop on Victoria Street. Serving Japanese-inspired burgers and delicious fried accompaniments - the free-range fried chicken burgers are a must-try and or go for the plant-based cauliflower patty. The small and focused menu means that food comes out quickly - perfect for a quick bite to eat before a game. But you can still get bowls of noodles from original The Ramen Shop on Riddiford Street, which specialises in ramen with a pork-based broth -oishii!
Tatsushi is a hidden gem for those in the know - it's tucked away down Edward Street, near popular craft beer bar Little Beer Quarter. Featuring a menu they describe as 'true and authentic Japanese', Tatsushi serves expertly-made dishes using traditional Japanese methods with local Wellington and New Zealand produce. Menu highlights include super fresh sashimi and house-made tofu, so soft and meltingly tender that it will change your perception of what tofu can be.
Many a night out has begun at Hede, a popular Japanese restaurant with a BYO wine license. Located at lower Cuba Street, start your night with dinner at Hede before heading to explore the bars further up Cuba Street or cruise on to Courtenay Place. The menu at Hede is comprehensive, the portions large and the pricing reasonable – opt for a popular set menu to set you up for the night, plus there’s Japanese beer and sake available.
Hidden away upstairs on Courtenay Place, Yakitori & Sake Bar is a Japanese grilled-chicken and sake bar. Sit at the expansive counter space that overlooks the open kitchen and watch as food is cooked over charcoals or sit outside on the balcony overlooking Courtenay Place. Choose from a great range of sake, Japanese beers on tap and New Zealand wines and settle in for some meat-on-a-stick. Kanpai!
For cool cocktails and delicious plates of Asian-inspired food, head to Hot Sauce at QT Museum. From tea-smoked duck bao bun to beef tataki, Hot Sauce offers traditional Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Thai flavours with a contemporary twist. With a sleek fit-out with atmospheric lighting, Hot Sauce is a stylish spot for a drink any time of the day or night - and there's a sunny outdoor space that's perfect for an afternoon drink.
Kiwi-Irish with a twist...The Green Man gastro bar is Wellington's busiest and quirkiest Central City Gastro Pub. You may not find the biggest All Blacks fans when you're watching a game, but you're definitely going to find a lot of atmosphere throughout the tournament. Where else would you go to support the only team ranked higher in World Rugby over New Zealands favourites?
Hataitai's very own nano-brewery and beer bar is compact but full of character and is hosting events for the All Blacks games throughout the World Cup. If you're looking for a suburban spot just outside the CBD, Waitoa Social Club might be your best option. It's also dog-friendly and has plenty of brews on tap.
Perched at the top of Cuba Street in a garage-turned-brewbar, HeyDay Beer Co adds a touch of whimsy to the local craft beer scene. This World Cup, they're theming game day. Facing off against Canada? Will you chose legit poutine or a classic Kiwi burger to fuel you for our Heyday vs Southward table tennis tournament? Will it be the Canadian tunes or the Kiwi bangers that get you bumped for the game?
With more than 70 plasma and LCD screens, Four Kings is a sports bar like New Zealand has never seen before. Set across two floors, you're definitely going to get a good view of the game from any point in this Irish bar. There's also $10 Lion Brown, great nachos, spicy wings and lazy boys if that helps entice you.
For the duration of the World Cup, The Third Eye will be streaming all of the New Zealand matches in real-time on a massive screen with big sound as they fight to win it all. They'll also be showing other matches taking place on the same day as the All Blacks games if you want even more rugby action. Wilson Barbecue will be present Saturday 21/9 and Saturday 12/10, cooking up a storm and keeping the kai coming.