Masu, part of the SkyCity complex, needs no introduction after being named the 2014 Metro Restaurant of the Year Supreme Winner. We decided to come here for lunch to celebrate BL’s birthday. We booked online, and they ring you the day before to confirm, a nice touch. The layout of the restaurant is beautiful, I love the way wood and stone are used to convey an elegant simplicity.
The kitchen is divided into three sections; a sushi bar, the robata grill and the kitchen. Each is staffed with multiple chefs (I counted nine in total across the three stations on a reasonably quiet Sunday lunch).
The extensive drinks menu also had some intriguing non-alcholic cocktails ($10); we had a refreshing drink made with grapes and aloe vera juice.
We started with the sashimi moriawase chef’s 5 sashimi selection ($42), which came with three pieces each of kingfish, salmon, tuna, scallop and trevally. The beautifully presented seafood came with freshly grated wasabi. This is potent stuff; fresh wasabi is even more pungent than the imitation ones that comes out a tube, but the pungency dissipates quickly with no lingering burn. I found the scallop too delicate for me; the stronger tasting kingfish and salmon were my pick.
The cloudy bay clams tobanyaki ($22) came steaming in a miniature pot seasoned with garlic, lemon, green chilli and ponzu butter. I enjoyed this, flavoursome and perfectly cooked. We were hoping for the baby back pork ribs, but they had run out.
The saikyo miso and yuzu marinated black cod ($46) is the signature dish. This is reminiscent of the miso marinated black cod made famous by Nobu Matsuhisa. Saikyo miso is a naturally sweet golden miso from the Kyoto region, which permeates the flaky cod with a divine sweet-savouriness.
The vegetable dishes did not hit the same high notes. The eggplant with ginger miso and sesame ($8.30) was dull, and I wished there was a combination of textures. The soy glazed tofu ($9.90) was tasty but the texture was inconsistent with the visual aspect. I was expecting silky soft texture, but it was the normal firm tofu, which tasted too strong for the other flavours.
I expected more from Masu. Sure, the ambience is wonderful, the service top-notch, and the presentation was excellent. However, there was little originality to the dishes we ordered, even if they were executed well. The vegetable options were disappointing. Was it worth the extravagant prices charged? I wasn’t so sure. But I will bring my dad here; he spent many, many months in Japan over his working career, and he has developed a very discerning palate for Japanese food.
SkyCity Grand Hotel
90 Federal Street, Auckland
Ph: 09 - 363 6278 or book online
Open 7 days: lunch 12 - 3pm, dinner 5:30pm - late