A self-confessed ‘foodie’ Vili, as he is popularly known is on a mission to bring classic Asian style takeaway foods from New Zealand and Australia to Rarotonga.
“There is so many foods that people say, ‘oh man we can’t get here’, but let me tell you I am bringing them.”
Vili first brought his food to the Muri Night Markets before launching the famous Vili’s Burger Joint in the village in 2012.
“We started simple with the Vili’s Cheeseburger and then just kept adding to the menu. We wanted the place to be purely burgers, something that is similar (in style) to what you would get in New Zealand”.
After having a word with his Aunty Ngaoa and getting the go-ahead to open his newest venture in the old Tahitian Fish Café across from the Beachcomber in Avarua in February, Vili quickly launched on a full renovation and refurbishment of the characterful building.
“We quickly fitted out the shop and got down to solidifying our menu. Most people don’t know this, but we don’t go into things with a business plan. I believe in backing yourself. I am not in this for the money, but purely so I can create food that people will enjoy.”
With the success of the burger joint well established, (it’s the second highest scoring restaurant in Rarotonga on the popular travel website Trip Advisor), Vili understands his newest venture comes with high expectations from the public.
“We want and expect the name Vili’s to satisfy that expectation. I want people to see the name and know that high standards will come with our food.”
With no formal training in the kitchen, Vili said his love of food is driven by what he enjoys eating, and says he has the ability to “mix” ingredients while looking at them in a supermarket and knowing what the outcome will be.
“I am constantly looking at ingredients and thinking about combinations that will work and what new foods I want to bring to Raro.”
Golden Wok has a small menu, with five choices available daily, plus the popular $12 combination of three items from the buffet.
Vili said he felt a simple menu would fit best with his customers.
“We want people to know that every time they come and eat our food, it tastes the same and that comes from using the best ingredients so that we can create a dish that is authentic rather than something that is only done halfway.”
If you visit the Golden Wok, don’t be surprised to get a visit in person from Vili, as he loves to get feedback and finding out if the customers are enjoying his food.
Golden Wok is open Tuesday – Sunday, for lunch-time starting at 11-2pm followed by dinner from 5pm – 9pm.