When talking to anyone in Auckland about where to get great Japanese food, one name kept cropping up. With this in mind we booked a table for 6 of us for a Japanese feast at Masu. We went on a busy Friday night and were excited for what was to come.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated with “Ema”, some Japanese wooden wishing plaques hanging up at the entrance. This is a Shinto custom and thus can be found at shrines all over Japan. As Buddhism and Shinto have mixed up a lot, it is not unique to shrines anymore, you might find them in temples, or in Masu too!
We were shown to a round table which was great as we always find that at a rectangular table you never get to speak to the person at the other end to you!
An open kitchen really adds to the ambiance and really allows you to feel amongst the hustle and bustle of everything going on. Now we only give constructive criticism and although the food at Masu was outstanding the service was somewhat lacking. Yes, it was a busy Friday night service and the restaurant was full, but for a restaurant of this calibre and charging these sort of prices, the service should have been spot on.
We started with a round of drinks, including cocktails, champagne and sake. Now our waitress did tell us she was new and this was absolutely fine. One of us asked for a glass of champagne and the waitress put down a white wine glass. No big deal, we asked another waitress for a champagne flute instead. She said she would have to check with the senior waitress if this was ok for us to have a champagne flute. We hope in the future that the wait staff know a bit more about which glasses to serve with which drink, therefore avoiding a table the wait in order to check a minor request (which seems not too big to ask for).
Anyway, onto the food! And this is where Masu redeemed themselves.
Tuna tataki with roast onion, wafu, yuzu kosho and pickled garlic was perfectly fresh and clean tasting.The sauce added a spicy touch to this amazing dish.
Wild venison tataki, arima sansho, wasabi and crispy leek arrived beautifully plated. The venison was so tender and the sauce really complemented it. The venison was however slightly overpowered by the sauce but this is just a minor niggle.
Now we had been advised that the dishes would arrive as and when they were ready so would be staggered. That was fine as many restaurants now do this. However there was a very long wait after the venison and tuna tataki had been delivered and then all of the rest of the dishes arrived all at once.
Next up were the crispy prawn, avocado, sweet soy and takuwan maki rolls. We also ordered the spicy tuna, avocado and jalapeno mayonnaise rolls. Both were perfectly executed.
Next up were pork and kimchi gyoza, pickled cucumber and soy vinegar. Alongside these we had the prawn, snapper and spring onion gyoza with red chilli. Really tasty and not too filing, we would recommend it.
One of the star dishes of the night was the ginger, miso and sesame eggplant. It was so creamy and tender.
The beef fillet with red chilli, garlic soy, sesame and spring onion was cooked perfectly, we always LOVE ordering this type of dish in a Japanese restaurant! It was quite pricy for the size but who’s counting when it’s this good?
Another standout dish was the cedar roasted ora king salmon teriyaki with pickled cucumber and sesame. The fish flaked perfectly and the flavours were delicately balanced.
We added one last dish for the ones who were still hungry : Tartare of ora king salmon and tuna with house-made rice crackers. It was incredibly tasty and delicate – the tuna and salmon was melt in the mouth, something we will not forget in a hurry.
Now on to dessert!
The cedar roasted marou chocolate and hazelnut pudding with caramel miso ice cream was reminiscent of a chocolate fondant. Once the sponge surface had been broken, molten chocolate oozed out. The addition of green tea powder was also great.
Our second and final dessert was the carrot cake, yuzu cheesecake, cranberry sake gel and spiced pumpkin ice cream. Almost like a deconstructed dessert, this had a variety of textures and flavours.
As you will know from our previous reviews, we are never unnecessarily negative but the service was very slow and not on point the night we visited. We realise that our waitress was inexperienced and feel she may not have been quite ready to be left on her own yet (especially on one of their busiest nights).
However we’d love to return and give Masu a second chance as the food really was amazing and we hear their Sunday brunch is outstanding!
90 Federal Street
Tel: 09 363 6278