We love Japanese food so much here at The Urban List that we could pretty much fly to Japan every week just to savour the fare. Unfortunately, this isn’t so realistic, but luckily for us we can find a slice of Japanese culture on our doorstep with authentic food and drink experiences.
And so, whether you’re seeking out sushi, sashimi or sake, we’ve scoped out some of the best Japanese restaurants in Auckland.
First up on the list is Kushi, tucked away downtown on Durham Street West. Open for lunch and dinner service, this kitchen and bar serves up modern, Japanese fare that diners can enjoy amongst the classy restaurant surroundings. Or, take it wherever your heart desires, as dishes are available to go. The lunchtime bento boxes are a must.
Britomart is home to many restaurants serving up delicious fare, and Ebisu is no exception. Bringing together the best of Japanese and European techniques, this award-winning restaurant serves up a mix of new-style sushi and sashimi as well as traditional Japanese dishes. While it’s tough to only pick a few favourites from the enticing menu, we can’t go past the free-range karaage chicken and beef tataki. It may just be the best Japanese Auckland has to offer.
Another spot that is the cream of the crop of Auckland restaurants is Nic Watt’s MASU. Located in the Federal Street dining precinct, this Japanese robata restaurant and bar offers a bold, distinctive style of Japanese dining. Dishes are prepared in three separate areas of the restaurant—the sushi bar, the kitchen and the robata grill, with the robata grill being the cornerstone of MASU. The restaurant’s menu includes smaller dishes made for sharing, as well as those more hearty dishes that you wouldn’t mind digging into on your own.
Haru No Yume
Taking Auckland's Japanese food by storm, Haru No Yume has an all-you-can-eat buffet (!!). With favourites from the likes of sashimi, gyoza and of course, karaage chicken—you'll be leaving with a belly filled with some of the best Japanese in town. The generous space is gorgeous, boasting paper lanterns, hanging umbrellas and bottles of sake sitting proudly on display. The star dish is the shabu-shabu hot pot, you basically pick and choose your own veges before adding them to a cooking pot resulting in a perfectly warming broth. Hell yeee.
Sake Bar Nippon
Epsom & Takapuna
Fresh sashimi, sushi, tempura, soft shell crab and many more Japanese favourites are on the menu at Izakaya-style restaurant, Sake Bar Nippon. If you’re eager to learn a thing or two about Japanese cooking, grab a seat where you can, and watch the chefs preparing your dishes. Alongside the tantalising menu is an extensive beverage menu featuring Japanese tap beer, a selection of hot and cold sakes, wines and spirits.
Ponsonby & Browns Bay
The popularity of their first restaurant in Browns Bay led to the opening of Ramen Takara’s Ponsonby location. A lot of work goes into the ramen, with the noodles being made daily, using quality local ingredients and the broth is prepared every morning over three hours. Alongside the wide selection of ramen is your trusty Japanese go-to dishes such as gyoza, karaage chicken and tempura.
Newmarket & City Works Depot
Another Japanese joint that has done so well they have opened up a second spot is &Sushi. They're widely known for having the prettiest sushi in town. And, in addition to their impressive sushi line-up, for those wanting something a bit heartier, donburi, yakisoba and udon are on the menu as well as the not-so-usual dakjuk (aka Korean chicken porridge).
Moto Sushi Bar
Down some stairs and tucked away from Parnell’s main drag is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Auckland that doesn't skimp on quality. Open for lunch and then again for dinner service, the restaurant itself may be on the more cosy side but the menu is as long as your arm, with all your favourites available in a range of flavours. And, if you’d rather dine in the comforts of your own home, you’re in luck as takeaways are an option. Trust us when we say that Moto's chicken salad is off the charts.
For something a bit fancy, this European Japanese fusion restaurant, Kazuya is worth splashing those dollars on, and it has the accolades to prove it. Using a unique process of low and slow-roasting for meat, as well as deploying traditional Japanese methods for preparing fish, the chefs here know their stuff and you won’t be surprised to know that it looks as good as it tastes, with all plates thoughtfully presented down to the last detail.
They often say two minds are better than one, so when two award-winning Japanese chefs decided to join forces, it could only be a good thing. Zool Zool was envisioned as a place where diners can enjoy authentic ramen and quality sake and that’s exactly what they’ve done. However, the Noodle House and Izakaya bar bring much more than just ramen and sake to the table, with chefs Toru Hirae and Kazuya Yamauchi curating a menu consisting of their favourite Japanese tapas, desserts, wine and whiskey.
For a truly authentic Japanese dining experience, head to Newmarket's Tatsumi. This darkened and welcoming restaurant will transport you to another world. A delectable fusion of traditional flavours and contemporary cuisine, the fresh and innovative menu will impress. It is open for lunch service and then again for dinner. The latter has plates that are designed to share, including soft-shell crab salad, double cooked tender pork spareribs and gnocchi of Japanese taro. Yummm!
Down a quiet side street off the not-so-quiet Ponsonby Road is Coroco, serving new-style Japanese cuisine in a cosy, yet contemporary setting. The restaurant places importance on providing an “ichi-go ichi-e” experience, in essence meaning “treasure every encounter, for it will never recur.” A range of menus are on offer—a degustation course, sushi sashimi course, signature course as well as an à la carte option.
Tucked away in the CBD lies one of the best damn Japanese restaurants in Auckland—yep, it's that good. Industry Zen knows how to please the people, understanding that a decent teriyaki chicken is enough to make us Aucklanders shed happy tears. Paired with some edamame, tako-yaki and some insanely good spring rolls, eating out doesn't get much tastier than this. This bustling joint is the perfect dinner spot. It helps that the food is presented to per-fec-tion!
- Kanpai! How To Drink Sake Like A Pro
- New Opening: Namo
- The New Asian Fusion Restaurant You’ll Go Totally Nuts For
Image credit: Lydia Arnold, Andrew Wilson at Ebisu, Katsuya, MASU by Nic Watt, &Sushi