Masu (Auckland CBD, New Zealand)
Let’s start this review by letting you know that this to date is the best restaurant I tried in New Zealand, every aspect of our dining experience was perfect, the food, the staff, the location, communications and all. Masu is a Japanese robata restaurant and bar located in Federal Street. Located beside The Grill by Sean Connolly, Depot, Huami and Gusto at the Grand, this place is located in a prime dining precinct of Auckland’s CBD.
My experience with them started during the booking process, I did booked the place via email and made some special request since we will be watching Aladdin the Musical in Civic Theatre at 7:30pm , considering what I am after is their 8 course degustation menu with 2 viands served on every course, I did not know if 6:00pm to 7:15pm would be sufficient enough to complete the service for that dinner. They advised that is usually runs for two hours but they will try to accommodate my request and take a note of it.
I pre-ordered our dinner, basically two Tokusen Menu (NZ$140.00 pp) and one Shomi Menu (NZ$88.00 pp) for me, my wife and daughter, so on that day we dine in what I expect is they will just serve. When I arrived exactly at 6:00 PM we got immediately seated, and the server told us that they will serve our dishes in a faster than the usual way to accommodate for the time we need to leave. There were two servers who were attending us, monitoring us on every move (discreetly) so they can serve the next course just in time we finish the current one. Each course when it was served was explained in great detail, what ingredients are used, how it was prepared and most importantly how to eat them to get the best bite. This degustation is quite different from the others as the dishes are served in a serving platter and each diner will have their own plates. Plates were replaced in a regular basis if it becomes well used.
Drinks were quickly filled as you drink them, my daughter was laughing every time she takes a sip and lost track of the glass, the next time she grabs it, she always gets surprised it is filled up again. There was also one time that I want to share my cray fish to my daughter and want to cut it in half, I then used my chopsticks and seconds later when the server saw me struggling, they did offer me a fork and knife. They also reminded us twice of the time so we won’t get late to our next appointment. It’s that level of service, it was impeccable.
Food was amazing as well, every course was well thought of, it was delicious in every aspect, each element of the dish basically complements each other which makes everything amazing. It’s just so sad we really can’t breathe and savour the after taste after every course as we are on a hurry. Then comes the presentation, most of it was staged on a grand scheme, specially that dessert which to note, was heavily explained by who I believe the dessert chef who made them.
I took a photo of every dish we ate, the Tokusen Menu is an Eight Course meal that consists of 14 different dishes which makes it like a 14-course degustation menu. The Shomi on the other hand is a Six Course meal that consists of 10 different dishes which makes it like a 10-course degustation menu. It was one very filling course meal.
Let’s start with the Masu Tokusen
First Course: Amyu-Zu Busshu – Japanese Amuse Bouche made with corn and fried plantain
Second Course A: Zuwaigani Chawanmushi – a bowl of King Crab Chawanmushi, Ikura, Celery. This savoury Japanese custard is served cold, very smooth, very tasty and pleasant to the palate.
Second Course B: Orakingu Samon – a Kombu Cured Ora King Salmon served with Whisky Barrel Shoyu. The Kombu imparts a nice savoury taste to the salmon, mild and not overpowering so you can still taste a full robust flavour of the fish.
Third Course A: Shirohamaguri – Smoked Storm Clam and Wakame. This is one of the best shellfishes you will ever try. Very fresh, no fish taste, clean and tasty.
Third Course B: Kunsei Hiramasa – Kingfish in Lemon Foam.
Fourth Course A: Kisu Tenpura – Kisu Tempura served with Nori Powder and Malt Vinegar. Very light and very crispy, nice touch of vinegar sprayed just before serving.
Fourth Course B: Yaki Hobo – Robata Grilled Gurnard, Lemon Oil. A good-sized gurnard, perfectly grill, very meaty.
Fifth Course A: Yaki Iseebi – Charred Crayfish, Jalapeño Ginger Soy. Crayfish was perfectly cooked, savoury sweet fresh taste served with a mildly spicy soy sauce.
Fifth Course B: Yaki Asuparagasu – Asparagus, Yuzu Truffle Dressing, nicely char grilled, crispy sweet and umami filled.
Sixth Course A: Wagyu Tsukune – Manuka Skewer Wagyu Beef Tsukune served with Yuzu Kosho, Egg Yolk and Soy. One of the tastiest dishes in there, the egg yolks makes it creamy, certainly one of the best dishes in here.
Sixth Course B: Yaki Kosuretasu – Robata Cos Lettuce, Maple Soy. I never though cos lettuce can taste amazing! This was really surprising, you can taste the charcoal flavours which makes the lettuce really good.
Seventh Course A: Minami Waikato San Lamu – South Waikato Lamb Cutlet, Anticucho Spices. Perfectly cooked lamb, succulent and juicy.
Seventh Course B: Kiritanpo – Rice Skewer, Cucumber Pickle.
Eight Course: Dessert, since they combined all dessert into one impressive platter, this deserves a separate section on its own. It was amazing and very impressive
Now let’s show Masu’s Shomi Menu
First Course A: Shebicchi Taco – Ceviche Spicy Miso Taco, nice crunch and spice on this one.
First Course B: Sashimi Sanshu Mori – Chef’s 3 Sashimi Selection. A good selection of fresh cuts of salmon, kingfish and snapper (I think)
Second Course: Chirashi Tempura Maki – Spicy Sashimi Tempura Maki, Jalapeno Mayonnaise. Kind of weird but was good, first time I tried a maki that is fried like tempura.
Third Course A: Buta Niku Kimchi Gyoza – Pork and Kimchi Gyoza, Soy Vinegar
Third Course B: Yasai No Moriawase – Assorted Vegetable Tempura
Fourth Course A: Kyouno Teriyaki – Market Fish Teriyaki, Blackened Chilli, Pickled Cucumber. Fish used was salmon, it was perfectly cooked and seasoned.
Fourth Course B: Broccoli Shinme – Tender Stem Broccoli, Moromi Miso and Ginger Dressing
Fifth Course A & B: Kankokufu Kohitsuji Satsumaimo – South Waikato Lamb Cutlets, Gochujang, Cucumber, Goma Dressing, Chives
Sixth Course: Dessert
Now for the dessert, like I said this can be a separate review on its own, just look how glorious is that! That platter has almost the same diameter as of the table we are using. A platter filled with ice and scattered fruits and edible flowers is just a garnish.
Served with Miso Sufure, a Cedar Wood White Chocolate and Miso Soufflé and Raspberry Powder Sorbet. That Cedar Wood White Chocolate was one of the top three most delicious things I placed in my mount :). Wondering what are the other two? One of them is this Baked Crunchy Char Siew Chicken Bun from Huami and of course any type of sinigang.
There is trio of ice cream flavours Kumara Black Sesame, Apple Mint and Black Currant. That Kumara Black Sesame is again made to my best list, the top 5 ice cream flavours I ever tried.
Plus a dessert mousse where I can’t understand what was is, probably Japanese name, tastes like peanut butter.
And finally, some Dessert Chawamushi with pomegranate.
That was one great culinary experience, just hoped we had time so we can slow down and savour everything before devouring the next one. Service was A+++, food was even better, we will definitely back when the menu changes, certainly one of the unforgettable experiences especially when you are trying to eat everything meant for two hours in a span of one hour and fifteen minutes.
MASU by Nic Watt
Address: 90 Federal St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +649 363 6278