We have a friend visiting from Hong Kong and we decided to go on a dining frenzy during her stay in Auckland. Masu, Metro’s Best Restaurant of the Year, was the first place that we took her. Having difficulty securing a table for dinner, we decided to go for lunch. I’ve been to Masu when it first opened (you can read it here), so it was interesting to see if things are still the same since they became winners. The menu hasn’t changed since I was last here but because they have an extensive menu, we managed to try many different items. Starting our lunch with a cocktail, I ordered the kiwi chu hai which is made up of kiwifruit, ginger, vodka, rice shochu and soda. Topped with two large pieces of candied ginger. Not as strong as some of the other cocktails, it was a sweet start to our feast.
The menu at Masu is made for sharing, so my friends entrusted me with the task of ordering for the group. In terms of vegetables, we enjoyed an iceberg salad dressed with sesame and caramelised onions, a spinach salad with fresh young leaves, grapefruit, finished off with a sweet and salty maple soy dressing and a grilled eggplant from the robata which is covered in a ginger miso sauce and sprinkled with sesame.
From the sushi bar, we decided to have the chef’s 8 sashimi selection and the tuna and salmon tartare (the one I raved about in my last entry) which comes with the best rice crackers we have ever tasted. Both of these dishes came in a single gigantic bowl of ice which ensured the freshness of the fish. The two maki rolls were rather disappointing in terms of size, I’m pretty sure that it is smaller than the last time. Taste-wise, it was great. The spicy sashimi with green bean and cucumber had a delicate kick without being overpowering and the crispy prawn with avocado were freshly made, the exterior of the prawns were still crunchy and I enjoyed the addition of pickled radish which was a nice touch.
The yellow belly flounder tempura was highly recommended by my friend and we throughly enjoyed it. The final squeeze of lemon provided a refreshing zest and the freshly grated chilli gave a nice clean heat without burning your palate. The beef fillet cooked medium rare on the robata was surprisingly tender. We couldn’t justify ordering the wagyu considering I picked so many dishes, so we didn’t have high expectation of the cut of meat. Yet, it was tender, perfectly cooked and had a nice charred taste that intensified the natural flavours of the beef. The accompanying chilli sauce was nice, but not necessary.
My favourite dish from the entire meal would have to be this amazing black cod that was marinated in miso and yuzu. Priced at $48, this was one of the most expensive dish from the menu. It’s a good portion of black cod and despite being cooked on the grill, it was exquisite, with most of the moisture being retained inside the meat. The fish may look dry from the outside, but as soon as you break away part of the fish, the juices oozed out. Perfection!
We saved room for the dessert platter because that was our main purpose of going to Masu. The platter was made up of three different desserts, an assortment of ice cream and fresh fruit. I’ve had the chawan mushi before, and it was the same combination of mango, lychee and passionfruit. My friends really enjoyed the decadent chocolate and hazelnut pudding with a dusting of green tea powder but my favourite was the tofu cheesecake with red beans. Dense, rich and flavourful, this cheesecake was simply amazing.
We were very pleased with our meal. The maki rolls may have shrunk in size, but everything was just as good, if not better, than when Masu first opened. Being the new winner of the Metro Best restaurant means that you have to be organised and book ahead of time, but the packed dining room means that the atmosphere is lively and rather informal. A great spot for a day out with friends. So stop by, and see what the fuss is all about!
Masu | Location: SkyCity Grand Hotel, 90 Federal Street, Auckland CBD | Food: Japanese