Public service announcement: Get excited.
What are we getting excited about, you ask? Well, behind an unassuming blue wall on the K Road end of Ponsonby Road you’ll find Azabu—the strip’s newest eatery. And it’s not just any new opening. It has an electric hum about it. Stepping inside, we’re not in some small home town. We’re in New York, or Melbourne or the trendy restaurant district of Berlin. This place is truly world-class.
The interior, designed by the renowned Paul Izzard, is industrial and grungy while at the same time sleek and cool. Dark brick contrasts the tan leather banquets. The narrow dining room faces the open-plan kitchen, where you’ll be able to watch the highly skilled chefs create their art. They use metal chopsticks to delicately plate each component of the dish and never fault under pressure.
But don’t let elegant presentation fool you—the flavours of each dish are punchy and complex. This specialised Nikkei cuisine was born in Peru thanks to the growing Japanese settlers. It’s a harmonious marriage of Japanese ingredients and cooking methods with playful hints of South American flavours.
The beef tartare tostadas are mind-blowing. The combination of tender beef, truffle dressing, mushroom and pickled daikon is a flavour and textural masterpiece. The snapper ceviche looks beautiful, but slightly assuming—ceviche never really has much flavour, right? Wrong. This dish is by far the best raw fish I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The melt-in-your-mouth white flesh explodes with the addition of aji amarillo—a Peruvian chilli, savoury elements thanks to the hum of onion and chives, fresh cherry tomatoes and spinach oil round it off with a cooling element. And if you’re daring, the grilled octopus is a must. It’s beautifully tender and served with yuzu pepper, purple potato and chive.
There are bao buns and dumplings and ye ‘ol faithful chicken karaage and a selection of tempura options along with a raw bar dedicated to the fruits of our ocean.
Out back you’ll find Roji Bar, the perfect hidden spot for a pre-drink or nightcap. There’s an impressive selection of sake, as well as Asian-inspired cocktails. As well as a good curated wine and beer list.
So, if you’re a fan of Britomart favourite Ebisu and the infamous Lucky Lucky Dumpling Bar, rest assured the owners have done a stellar job on their third eatery. We hope you’re as excited as we are about the new opening, because if you’re not, we seriously question what, if anything, would make you excited…
To find out more about Azabu, including opening hours, click here.
Image credit: Lauren Matilda-Matthews