Soto describes their cuisine as ‘New Style’ Japanese which involves traditional Japanese cooking methods presented in a modern style. The chic dining area is in fact modern and sophisticated compared to many other Japanese restuarnats in Auckland and the price of the food mirrors this. I’m going to be honest and let you all know that this review does not speak highly of Soto. I love eating Japanese food and although – when compared to other Asian cuisine – it is slightly expensive, it is still cheaper compared to many other fine dining cuisine. However, Soto was expensive. The food was decent, but our expectations were high considering the prices they were charging (I have to emphase that this comparison is to other Japanese resturants in Auckland).
Now, I better start talking about the food. For starters, we ordered a sashimi platter to share. This platter includes eleven variarites of local sashimi including scampi, abalone, octopus, tuna and prawn. They were all fresh and delicioious and were accompanied with a variety of Japanese salad.
As we were pretty hungry, we opted to order a main each rather than sharing tapas. The beef dish, which was suppose to be a eye fillet steak, was presented and tasted like ordinary teriyaki beef. It was slighty different from what the menu described and the beef was a little chewy. The friend who ordered this dish, did not enjoy it. The teriyaki tofu was velvety and soft but the sauce was slightly too salty. The summer tempura that I order was delicious. Hot and crispy, the giant tiger prawns were perfectly cooked and so were the vegetables. However, for $33, I expected a larger portion. I had to order a bowl of rice, which costed $4 and it was only half full. The gratin style seafood bake was the best dish out of them all as it was beautifully presented and was packed with seafood. The rich creamy sauce needed a side of rice, which it didn’t come with, so we had to order another bowl of expensive rice.
We were still hungry after the main so we decided to order dessert which were more affordable (around $6 per dish). The desserts were excellent. The creamy green tea ice cream with red bean paste and dango (small rice flour dumplings) is a match made in heaven. The mouth-watering yuzu cheese cake was refreshing as it was slightly tart. I didn’t try the spring rolls due to my dislike for bananas so I can’t comment. We were glad that we didn’t skip dessert as it was the best part of the meal.
This entry would have to be my most honest review to-date. There were many good points about Soto such as the friendly staff, modern dining area and fantastic desserts. The mains and the price was its downfall. Although paying around $30 per main is average in many fine dining restaurant, but in terms of Japanese food, I considered it overpriced. I can get double the portion of tempura around that price at Nishiki. Plus, $4 for half a bowl of rice is ridiculous!
It is highly unlikely that I would re-visit Soto.
Date: Tuesday 19th July, 2011 | Location: 13 Saint Marys Road, Ponsonby | Food: ‘New Style’ Japanese