Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Secret, amazing, cool new restaurant

Bloggers. They’re quite annoying. No sooner has a new café/restaurant opened its doors than it’s flooded with curious, mousey-looking boys and girls, hovering over the food with their second-tier smartphone cameras and asking the owner for her ‘story’ while a queue of real people wait at the till trying to give said owner some money so that she can open her doors next week as well.

It’s not the bloggers’ fault, it’s Auckland’s. We’re just not a big enough city to provide enough food news for the surplus of people we now have reporting it, so when somewhere new comes along it gets swamped.

Yes, as a blogger it’s very rare that you can write about somewhere first or even eleventh these days, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered a very smart, newish restaurant in Symonds Street last week, with brilliant food and perfect service, and even better nobody seems to have yet written 400 words or 140 characters about it. Even better, when I got my phone out to photograph the salmon the waiter looked puzzled, which is how a waiter should look when somebody photographs their food, not when they don’t.

The restaurant is Kazuya, and it’s high end Japanese. Well, Euro-Japanese actually but that sounds a bit fusion and off-putting doesn’t it? But the food is GOOD – amazing textures and flavours and ingredients, served preferably ‘tasting menu’ style: we got five courses plus home-cooked bread and an amuse for $65 each and we were in and out in an hour and a half (at our request - you can stay longer if you want). Don’t fear the degustation – it can be just as fast and just as cheap as a la carte, but you’ll be making the chef happy, not sad: there’s nothing worse I’m sure than coming up with the perfect taste combination then having to hit the CTRL+PLUS button until it’s six times the size and now qualifies as a main.

More about the food soon but I was just as excited about the service – about as lovely as I’ve had anywhere in Auckland: that particular Japanese care and deference, combined with a razor sharp knowledge of everything on the plate, and a genuine sweetness that makes you look forward to each new visit. Near the end, the sommelier wheels a cheese trolley – a bloody cheese trolley! – up to your table where you can pick some to eat, if you want to. Turns out he’s a cheese junkie, collecting the best from around the world and serving them at perfect temperature to anyone lucky enough to be visiting his restaurant.

The food is really first class –a bit fussy for some maybe, if you’re being critical, but unlike anything you’ll get anywhere else. The chef must spend a LOT of time in prep each day. How do you like the sound of “Texture: Over 30 textured vegetables and prosciutto”? Or “Hokkaido Scallop, Sear, bulgur wheat , kina & cauliflower foam”? (sorry, I did eat this one but I don’t know what ‘Sear’ means in this context. I'm pretty sure we had a prawn with ours though)

We asked a simple question about how he made his ice cream and he had to talk for five minutes just to give us the short answer. You get the feeling each of his dishes, in fact each of the components in each of his dishes, have this sort of back story.

The restaurant is on Symonds St, just down from the Khyber Pass intersection on your left as you head toward the Langham. It has a capacity of 25 people, which means that you should book and that once you’re in you’ll feel quite special. Every person in there is working extremely hard to make true the dreams of chef Kazuya Yamauchi, formerly of Rice, and Cibo, and something called Acquapazza which by the sound of it was part of the Nineties.

The last restaurant I pleaded you to support was Sidart, about three years ago, when I first started this blog up. Since then Sidart has won Auckland’s best new restaurant award and is rock solid in the Top 50s of both Cuisine and Metro. Kazuya is your chance to discover a new restaurant before anybody else in – oh FUCK, Herald on Sunday reviewed it in bloody June! Right, that’s it. I’m starting a Scrabble blog.