In the past, the term "fast-food” was enough to make you screw up your nose.
The stigma around fast-food, of course, is one typically associated with unhealthy meal options – upsized fries, laden with grease, processed ingredients and consumed by the lazy. It is this very association that's being increasingly challenged by a number of Wellington-based fast-food operators, each providing quality, fresh meal options that some might even deem... healthy.
Here, we take a look at six essential fast-food offerings unique to the windy city.
Mr Circle – insanely delicious and authentic Chinese crepes.
Recommended meal: The classic pork belly crepe with crunchy rice crackers.
The Experience: Watching your meal's creation is half the fun. Sit back and witness the mastery behind the spinning plate right before your very eyes.
Why so tasty: Every delicious crepe is made using crispy rice crackers that are then rolled, to provide texture and crunch. The addition of bacon adds a classic Kiwi twist.
A bit of background: The crepes are inspired by jian bing, a traditional Chinese street food often enjoyed for breakfast. According to legend, when a Chinese general was struggling to feed his soldiers after they lost their woks, the fleet had no choice but to spread batter on their shields, and hover over a flame. The dish raised morale and eventually helped them win the battle. Thus, jian bing was born.
Where to find them: Located at Capital Market, weekdays, 10.30–9pm. They also have stalls at the Wellington Night Market on Friday and Saturday nights and the Harbourside Market on Sunday mornings.
The Chippery – seriously moreish Kiwi fush and chups.
Recommended meal: Keep it simple with their craft beer-battered fish with hand-cut agria chips.
The Experience: Both locations have open kitchens and unique interior fit-outs, while still staying true to the classic fish and chip experience. Eat in or takeaway and devour on the beach.
Why so tasty: All ingredients are locally sourced, served fresh and prepared with love. The Wellington craft beer batter is made in-store, the golden agria chips are hand-cut and fresh fish is dropped off by a local fisherman – seriously, it doesn't get much better than that.
A bit of background: What's not to love – fish and chips are a Kiwi staple and a favourite family takeaway opition. The Chippery wanted to carry on this tradition and focus on creating a style of fish and chips that brought the very best out of all local ingredients.
Where to find them: Thorndon – 10 Murphy Street. Mon – Thu 12.00pm–8.30pm. Fri – Sat 11.30am–9.00pm. Sun 11.30am–8.30pm.
Mt Vic – 5 Majoribanks Street. Mon – Thu 11.30am–8.30pm, Fri 11.30am–9.00pm, Sat 12.00pm–9.00pm, Sun 12.00pm–8.30pm.
Oriental Blues – Korean food made easy.
Recommended meal: Rice Box with Chicken Karrage, Steamed Buns and Kimchi Fried Rice.
The Experience: Oriental Blues is a hole-in-the-wall operation located within The Willis Street Food Court. A great option for lunch or dinner, if you want to eat in there is always lots a seating for groups and gatherings of all sizes. Meal options are ideal for sharing and there are dozens of side dishes to choose from.
Why so tasty: Here, they endeavour to interpret the food in a unique and original way, while maintaining the traditional key flavours of Korean food. Portion sizes are always satisfying and they make sure there are condiments a-plenty to fully complement your meal.
A bit of background: Inspired by contemporary East Asian cuisine, Oriental Blues offer contemporary Korean and Japanese food in a cool, casual way at a reasonable price point for maximum satisfaction.
Where to find them: Capital Market, 151 Willis St, Wellington, Mon–Fri and Sun, 11am–9pm.
Nam D – Vietnamese deliciousness, reigning champs of the city's best bánh mì.
Recommended meal: The bánh mì is a must if it's your first visit, my pick is the five-spice beef with homemade pâté, fresh coriander and pickled Daikon. Other flavour combinations include the lemongrass pork, grilled chicken or spicy tofu.
The Experience: Nam D has three locations throughout Wellington. One site offers a unique street-food experience, housed within a converted container. Service is quick and friendly, while the Tory Street location offers plenty of outdoor seating.
A bit of background: Street food is a big part of Vietnamese culture, with most stalls offering just one or two speciality dishes. Nam D has embraced this concept by providing a mere handful of quality lunch options that are both healthy and delicious.
Why so tasty: Everything here is made from scratch or prepared fresh on a daily basis. From the speciality baked bread to the home-made butter, pâté and pickles for their bánh mì.
Where to find them: 43 The Terrace. Monday–Friday, 9.30am–3.00pm. Cable Car Lane. Monday–Friday, 10.30am–3.00pm. 63 Tory Street. Monday–Friday, 11.30am–3.00pm.
Tommy Millions – the nicest slice in town.
Recommended meal: The “Porker” pizza. Picture a golden base topped with tomato, mozzarella, salami, house sausage and red onion. All pizzas are served by the slice but also available to purchase as a whole pie.
The Experience: Tommy Millions have two pizza/sub eateries positioned on some of Wellington's busiest streets. Take your pick from the New York-style slice behind the glass display or order one made fresh. The service is casual, friendly and fast, with plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy on a sunny day or crisp, still night.
A bit of background: Beloved by locals, Tommy Millions offer fresh pizza and subs inspired by the streets of New York. Established in 2011 by local foodie Tommy Kirton, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Wellingtonian who doesn't swear by Tommy's slice.
Why so tasty: Think New York-style thin crust, cooked just right. Toppings and sauces are always generous to make sure each and every bite is as good as the last.
Where to find them: 105 Courtenay Place, Te Aro, Wellington 6021. Coffee starts at 6.30am on weekdays, 8am on weekends, pizza at 11am everyday, close at 11pm. Friday and Saturday they stay open until 4am... it gets interesting.
142 Featherston St, Te Aro. Monday–Friday, 7am–7.30pm, pizza from 11am. Saturday and Sunday, 10.30am–6.30pm, pizza from 11am.
Lucky Chicken – fried chicken, done right.
Recommended meal: The Bomber Chicken Burger – served in a soft, pillowy brioche bun with just the right amount of lettuce and lashings of special Lucky Sauce.
The Experience: Lucky Chicken can lay claim to serving the best fried chicken in town (sorry, Colonel). The staff are good fun, while still providing exceptional service and quality food.
A bit of background: The brainchild of Tommy Kirton (the man behind the city's best slice), Lucky Chicken fills the gap in the market for a quality fried chicken offering that you can easily enjoy on the run. After moving his coffee machine, Tommy found just enough space to open Lucky right next door to Tommy Millions – two great fast-fresh offerings located on the same site.
Why so tasty: According to the man himself, mastering the art of fried chicken is all about "trial and error" when trying to find the perfect ratio of batter-to-chicken. Establishing the right cook time in their impressive pressure fryer certainly helps.
Where to find them: 105 Courtenay Place, Te Aro. 11.30am–2.30pm, 5.00pm–9.30pm.
Have we missed your favourite Welly essential street eat? Let us know in the comments below.