If there was only one cuisine I could eat for the rest of my days, it would without a doubt be Japanese. (I would however be in a precarious situation when it came to satisfying my sweet tooth because I never ever order dessert in any Asian-style restaurant, but it may also do wonders for getting me back to my pre-baby weight! Yes, there is definitely a silver-lining!)
I digress. On Wednesday night my husband and I enjoyed a stunning meal at Masu – a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try ever since it opened in the SkyCity Grand Hotel at the end of 2013. There is a strip of restaurants on Federal Street that are super exclusive and getting into them either requires hanging around for an hour or more for a table to open up (when you can not book) or for those where you are able to reserve a table, it seems you need to book months or at least weeks in advance. We don’t get out too often, and when we do, we don’t have a whole bunch of time on the clock – what with three young kids and babysitters to pay or grandparents to relieve at a reasonable hour. Venturing out on a Tuesday night though meant we got a spot and I only had to book last week!
I had big expectations and I was even more expectant because the hubs was full on board with my original dining suggestion of Burger Burger – because of burgers (obviously) but also the promise of a Dark & Stormy cocktail which he had last enjoyed at KuDeTa in Bali approximately 10 years ago. He enjoys Japanese food, but not like I do, so I wanted to make sure this experience would knock his socks off.
We were swiftly seated, then quickly presented with a hot, lemony-fresh hand towel which was a perfect way to start the evening and wipe away the stress of arriving 1/2 an hour late to our table (thanks crazy Auckland traffic and nose to tails x2 on our way to the city!). Looking across the table as I finished cleansing my hands, my husband who likes to embarrass me on occasion was just about to use his as a face cloth. Thankfully our waitress arrived at our table just in time to save me from my shame.
The wine, sake and drinks lists were a little overwhelming but we finally settled on a beer for the lad and a Sav for myself. We asked for suggestions from our waitress as the menu was even more overwhelming than the drinks lists! After she advised the best way to order (in terms of how many dishes from each section and what were popular dishes) we were on our way and excitedly ordering up a storm! We selected a bunch of different dishes and waited with anticipation:
edamame with sea salt
yellowfin tuna sashimi
MASU soft shell crab
crispy fried squid, green chilli, lime
XL tiger prawn, red chilli, yuzu and daikon
assorted seasonal vegetable tempura
tender stem broccoli, moromi miso and ginger dressing
beef fillet, red chilli garlic soy, sesame, spring onion
Our total bill came to $141.00. We were both full and completely satisfied. The Beef was incredible, though the man definitely didn’t think it was worth $38. We had expected that dish to be larger since it was on the more pricey side so we assumed that equaled greater volume. Alas, it did not, but it was incredible, melt in your mouth beef! I could honestly never be a vegetarian when there is food that good on earth for me to eat!
I don’t know that I could honestly pick a favourite because they were all absolutely incredible. The Soft Shell Crab was amaaaazing. The Squid was perfect and for $10 there was a decent amount to enjoy. That XL Tiger Prawn was seriously sensational. I have never eaten prawn prepared like that before. The Miso & Ginger dressing on the Broccolini was to die for. I dipped most of my tempura vegetables into it and almost cried when the waitress removed the dish from the table (I was seriously contemplating licking my plate – an action I sternly discourage my daughter from doing with dessert plates!)
Service wise, I would say Masu is up there with the best of the best. Everything was perfectly timed so that we were never left waiting for a dish, often had a couple at the same time, but were not overcrowded with everything we ordered arriving at the same time which is what I have not so much enjoyed about Mexico in the last few times we’ve been there. It feels like you’re being rushed through and you don’t have time to truly savour each of the things you’ve ordered. Our water glasses were replenished often, but not in a pedantic fashion. I couldn’t fault it.
The ambience was unusual – it felt like a hotel restaurant for some reason, though I can’t pin point exactly why. There were a vast number of staff that was reminiscent of an establishment like The Cheesecake Factory or equivalent big chain operation in the US, but other than that it was a memorable meal and Masu was absolutely a restaurant I would return to. The only trouble next time will be whether to take a chance on something new or to re-visit those amazing dishes that pleased my palette immensely on this occasion!
Have you been? Can you recommend a dish for me to try next time?