When a restaurant like Masu sweeps the floor of the Metro Restaurant Awards, it raises the bar for Japanese cuisine in Auckland. Or does it?
First off, the décor, furniture and tableware is spotless and cosmopolitan. If you’re interested, the waiter will let you know where everything is from, including the grill stones from Japan and the overhanging lights which all shaped differently, cost around a grand each. Phew Skycity sure knows how to invest in getting restaurants to look their part.
The menu boasts fresh food and is varied with many different choices of seafood and meat, and dishes from sashimi boats to hotpots and dumplings. There’s even a separate menu for gluten free diners. Big tick for eating out in groups. And unless you’ve been there before and know exactly what you’re looking for, you can expect to spend some time digesting the menu before the food even comes.
It’s no surprise that the food comes as elegantly presented as the décor. The small portions are ideal for those that love to nibble at a variety of different dishes but if you like to eat a lot of the same thing, you’re going to crave more. In fact, it’s probably time to change the way you eat because Auckland’s dining scene is still riding the wave of small shared plates or “communal dining”.
The sashimi was amazing, and depending on which ones you picked like the o-toro fatty tuna, it can be a totally satisfying melt in your mouth experience. Another highlight was the scampi tempura, which was light, fluffy and so moreish. We also ordered the pork ribs and chicken skewers. Tasty, but it felt like I was eating it just to fill myself up.
The chocolate and hazelnut pudding with the sprinkling of green tea on top was a fighter to steal the spotlight. Very indulgent and you’ll have to fight for your share as everyone targets to eat it first before the ice cream melts. After a full dinner though, I preferred the lighter chawan mushi – which was mango, lychee, passionfruit and coconut. Especially in the summer months, it’s just the refreshment you need.
Final verdict? I didn’t want to put Masu on a high pedestal because of title “Metro Restaurant of the Year”. The food was tasty, the atmosphere was fun. But I didn’t have a moment where I paused and tilted my head to think the food was interesting or creative. Instead the words fresh and clean come to mind. The quality of the food is evident and while you pay for it with the price tag, it could be justified for Japanese food lovers.
Ph: (09) 363 6278
90 Federal St