Good things come in threes at BambuchiSan
In an ever-expanding food empire, one woman has created three inviting spaces to eat and drink in Wellington's Hataitai
The heart of Hataitai has a strong sense of community and is a great destination to meet, eat, greet, and drink. Three of the eateries you can visit are owned by the same person. Lindsay Phillips has opened Bella’s Wine Bar, BambuchiSan, and Coolsville Cartel – all cosy places to enjoy yourself in the city fringe suburb.
Lindsay opened Coolsville Cartel in 2015, back when Hataitai village was mainly populated by takeaway outlets. Originally designed as a coffee spot offering good gluten-free counter and takeaway food, the locals immediately showed Lindsay what they wanted. “On the first day we opened, everyone was standing by the fridges, drinking their coffee and chatting. Hataitai is such a village – everyone knows everyone.”
Quickly realising that people wanted to sit down and hang out, Lindsay ran out and bought chairs and tables. Several years on, Coolsville Cartel has become a community hub where parents meet after the school drop-off, freelancers work on laptops making use of the free Wi-Fi, and there’s always at least one dog sitting outside.
An ex-tattoo shop across the road caught Lindsay’s eye and so, in 2017 when the lease came up, she took it over and opened BambuchiSan. Initially, the restaurant had a fine-dining vibe, but the menu’s approach has been adapted over time as Lindsay has learnt more about what Hataitai locals want from their neighbourhood eateries.
The menu is now much more casual, featuring Japanese-fusion food with some Canadian influences which reflect Lindsay’s British Colombian roots. There’s a mix of accessible and complex dishes to appeal to families and foodies alike. Plates are made for sharing, and since Lindsay can’t eat gluten, the whole menu is gluten-free. For drinks, there’s a fun Asian-inspired cocktail menu, and a good wine and beer list. You can even bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner.
The restaurant was named after Smuchi Bambuchi, the owner's Husky-Labrador cross, and the patio is dog-friendly in his honour
Bella's Wine Bar
Turning the patio out the back of BambuchiSan into an all-weather courtyard set the wheels in motion for the third piece in the hospitality empire. At the back of this garden space lies a building that had previously been used as a cakeshop and pick-up-only pizzeria. Lindsay saw the potential to expand beyond the courtyard and turned the building into a little bar.
Named after a persistent stray cat that wandered into the restaurant kitchen, Bella’s Wine Bar seats 16. It has a cosy atmosphere with couches and side tables. It’s a separate entity from BambuchiSan, and has its own menu geared towards snacks. The kitchen facilities are shared with its big sister next door.
The best compliment she ever received about her businesses was when a customer ran back inside after paying to say, “thank you so much – that felt like eating in my living room."