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Just came back from a dinner for two at Kazuya and felt compelled to get on here as soon as I got home and drop my thoughts. Had the 8 course tasting menu. Not one dud course from start to finish. Everything that’s been said about this restaurant by all the glowing reviews preceding mine couldn’t be more accurate. In fact I implore you to find any other fine dining restaurant in Auckland on this site that has scored 5 stars across every single one of its reviews. Totally deserved.
From the amuse bouche to the petit fours, just a brilliantly balanced dining experience with the hokkaido scallops and the cambridge duck, for us anyway, the killer standouts. $85 for the tasting menu? What fantastic value for money. I think the really nice thing about Kazuya is that it all comes as a bit of a surprise – on so many levels. Perhaps because it is still relatively new on the fine dining scene? That surprise will soon start diminishing as word gets round, but I can say this – there is a humbleness about this place which is so lovely and warm and I genuinely hope (and believe) that they’ll keep that as they grow in popularity. The final touch with chef coming to thank you as you exit the restaurant is such an apt example of what I’m referring to. It’s the perfect way to end a great meal.
One hundred percent the best restaurant in Auckland. I can’t believe what a secret this has been kept, we love dining out and have our fave restaurants around the city but this absolutely tops them all. The service is outstanding, but you feel completely welcome the whole time (not out of your comfort zone as other restaurants make you feel!) The food was stunning… presentation and taste wise. The wine is amazing, and the hosts know their wine down to a tee. This place is one amazing wee secret!
Nothing short of fantastic.
A hidden gem in the top of Symonds St that you would never know existed. The service from the door could not be faulted and remained the same all evening.
My recommendation is the seven course menu with matching wines. Some of the wine choice is left field but it gets you thinking and trying different options.
Best summed up as a Japanese TriBeCa.
Saving up to head back.
Faultless experience. Beautiful service, outstanding attention to detail. We were a table of 4, and all ordered the 5 course tasting menu. Interestingly, this 5 course meal is actually more like 7 courses, which speaks to the generosity of this place (probably stemming from the Japanese cultural influence).
The highlights for me were the warm “instant” smoked salmon, served in a glass jar, with the all 4 lids simultaneously removed with great flourish to reveal the wisp of smoke that created the “instant” effect, and the Paradise Prawn & Hokkaido Scallop.
Overall we had a fantastic evening and I personally rate this place above Merediths and Sidart (which is saying a lot). At $410 for four people it was not cheap, but in my view this represents excellent value for money.
The generosity of this place is amazing. The chef even met us at the front door as we were leaving and gave out small gifts to the female members of our party.
We will be back. Soon.
Perfect dining experience! The attention to detail, the atmosphere, the fantastic service, the exquisite food, all this make Kazuya a stand out restaurant in Auckland. It was a meal I will never forget, for all the right reasons.
I went to Kazuya last night for dinner. For those that are not familiar, Kazuya is a restaurant near the corner of Symonds Street and Khyber pass in Auckland. It serves contemporary French cuisine with Japanese influence (I think it is slightly more French than Japanese, but the Japanese part is pretty dominant too).
We had the full degustation with matching wines. I’ve included a photo of the menu and I had
the sommelier right down the wines we had.
First of notes on food.
Amuse Bouche – Hot smoke salmon with salmon caviar and cold spherified green bean soup with parmesan.
- The soup was an amazing experience. For those that are not familiar, spherification is a process where a liquid is contained within a solid skin on that liquid. The clarity of flavour of the soup and the surprise at biting into the sphere and getting the liquid of soup and the crunch of the Parmesan was great. The smoked salmon was great too, lovely flavour and the contrast to the soup was pleasant. The salmon was warm, but not hot and the soup cold.
Diamond Clam with Coconut foam and lime jelly.
- Simple, clean of flavour and delicious. The lime jelly was powerful and the coconut foam balanced this. The reference to raw fish salad was strong for me. The clams were chewy, but I liked the texture in context.
Hokkaido Scallops – Broad bean puree, green tea and seaweed flakes, parsnip, pea shoots and Scallop Tataki.
- This was probably the most challenging and thought provoking dish of the night. First off the scallops, I’ve never had scallops quite like these, having them raw in the middle and served just above room temperature was revelation. They were superb, the flavour match of the broad beans, parsnip and grean tea flakes was intense. It was served in a glass that kept the aromas in. So when you put your nose to it, it smelled of sea. It was strong in umami and almost meaty in its aroma. The scallop had no roe sack, but was still intensely flavoured in a way that frankly I struggle to describe. All I can say is the Hokkaido scallop is a wonder. To me the dish had aspects of its ingredients, but a deep rich complexity to it, like being at the beach and not just getting the salt air, but the seaweed washed on shore, the smell of old fish, even garbage and other things. It was visceral, real and almost profoundly emotional. Somehow it had a deep earthly intensity. The dish was not easy, but it was so complex that I still think about it now.
Red King Crab – Red crab and parsley sauce.
The crab itself was so so. I’m not sure how it was prepared, perhaps poached or boiled and then roasted or maybe just roasted. It was good, but not quite there. Again hard for me to put my finger on, but I’d personally guess that it was slightly over cooked and so a little stringy. It didn’t quite have the flavour I’d hope for. However, this was made up for frankly, by the sauce. The parsley sauce was so delicious, we couldn’t stop eating, sopping it up with some lovely bread provide, if I wasn’t in a nice restaurant I probably would have eaten it with my fingers. I’m not sure what was in it, other than some stock make from the crab, parsley and maybe cream. Perfectly skimmed with a small amount of oil added. I think if the crab had worked a little better, it would have been one of the best dishes of the night.
Texture – 30 vegetables all prepared individually with prosciutto.
- This is the chef’s signature dish and you can see why. It is quite simply astounding. Anyone who has tried cooking things with multiple components, will know how even 6 is a real challenge. This dish has more than 30. It is in some sense ridiculous. It is a challenge to describe the dish and what it is like to eat. I think the easiest way to think of it, is like a story, where you get to choose what happens. You can start with the asparagus or lentils or maybe the beet puree, then move onto the next thing, like the salad with olive oil powder. The dish climaxes as you work you way through, flavour building on flavour, texture on texture and in the end a profound experience. The prosciutto frankly seemed almost unnecessary, although I enjoyed the saltiness of it to contrast the vegetables. Individual highlights for me were the lentils (I wish I knew what they were flavoured with), the pickled cucumber skin, choggia beets, lotus root, salad, and carrot puree. I remember sitting there fifteen minutes after finishing the dish, with my mouth still buzzing with the flavour.
Paradise Prawn – Paradise Prawn, Morel, White asparagus, prawn and cauliflower foam and crispy snapper.
- This dish was a little more accessible than some of the previous ones. I really liked it, although it suffered from a slight flaw. The Prawn, quite simply superb. It was cooked so that it was just turning red, there were streaks of black on the belly as it wasn’t quite finished in the usual sense, but I actually think this did the prawn absolute justice. As a result the prawn was rare, but succulent, flavoursome and just delicious. I would have thought the prawn would be under cooked, but thanks to its quality and the superb technique behind the cooking it worked. The foam was delicious and rich, it reminded me of mayonnaise almost. The white asparagus was great, cooked so it was still crunchy, with some bits shaved in to thin curls. The morels provided a great accompaniment. I particularly liked how this referenced the classical french technique of poaching fish in mushroom liquor. The crispy snapper was decent, but I think firstly unnecessary and secondly very slightly over done. I mean this in context, some of the seafood cooking, especially the prawn the scallop were perfect. The snapper on another plate might have been fine, but with the under done style of seafood, the snapper felt out of place to me. Having said this, that prawn, with morel and foam was just to die for. Almost nothing could ruin that.
Wagyu Beef – Charcoal grilled Wagyu with truffle potato puree, Jus and some asian green I’m not familiar with.
- This was probably the easiest of the courses in many senses and also maybe the least interesting. It was perfectly good, wagyu was and tender, potato puree was not over truffled and the greens were superb (probably my favourite part of the dish). I don’t really have any complaints, but I do feel I didn’t need this and it seemed really ordinary compared to everything that we had just had. So it wasn’t a let down, but maybe it helped settle the meal and give the menu shape. I also think the need to have red meat or something that wasn’t vegetable or fish perhaps drove this on the menu. I might just note, the wagyu was cooked in a more western style, so it was warmed through, my understanding is often Japanese cook it seared like a piece of tuna. I suppose for most people it would have been good. Solid, nothing to complain about, but also other than the wonderful vegetables in it, I didn’t really make me think about it too much.
Cheese Board – We got a massive selection of cheese. 2 Blues Roquefort and another, a washed rind, an ash rind cheese, a hard cheese from nelson, and couple other soft cheeses.
- The cheese board probably had 300+ grams I’d say of cheese on it, at least for three people, maybe more. It also had baby fig compote and honey with crackers. It was over the top. One thing I will discuss later is the generosity of the restaurant, this course was completely over the top. So many different kind of cheese, of excellent quality. It was served with 2 glasses of wine (one sherry and one red wine). It was generous, delicious and just over the top.
Strawberry Tart – Pastry Flavoured ice cream, strawberry jelly, yoghurt mousse, fresh strawberry and a strawberry sugar thing.
- In some ways best of all were the desserts. This one in particular was good. It wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was delicious. The pastry ice cream, was surprising, but it worked and tasted of pastry. The jelly was a wonderfully pure expression of stawberry and somehow, inconceivably it all tasted like a strawberry tart.
Valrhona Chocolate cake – Chocolate cake straight out of the over, salted caramel ice cream, mascarpone cream with gold leaf, foam or some kind.
- Another inspired dessert, a beautiful chocolate “cake” (I’m not sure how it was made, it was kind of a hot mousse, that was melting over the plate), which was bitter and richly flavoured. This was contrast by the wonderful salted caramel and smooth mascarpone cream. The combination of sweet, bitter and salty was intense, but satisfying. A really wonderful dessert. At this stage the food was starting to get over the top, I think, so we were relieved we were at the end or so we thought.
Petit Four – Green Tea marshmallow, Chocolate Macaron and white chocolate pop rocks sphere.
Just to finish the evening they brought us a few petit four. All were good, it was hard to get much of a feel as the food had overloaded us at this stage I think.
Gift to go home with – Meringue cooking of some kind. They also gave us some cookies to go home with. I didn’t actually try this, as evidently only the women got it.
The Wine –
I won’t go into a in depth breakdown of the wine, as I only had a sip of each glass, as I was driving, but I’ll make a few notes. We had the sommelier match the wine with our meal. The matches quite frankly, are probably the best I’ve ever had. The wine was so consonant with the meal that it felt organically part of each dish. Particular highlights for me were the rose sake, which on its own was odd, but wonderfully complemented the scallop. The red with the cheese was an inspired match as well. The sommelier started us with champagne that he served with a cherry blossom that he had pickled himself the year before. THe attention to detail in the wine was first rate. They were also very generous with the wine, offering to top up one of the glasses on occasion and we paid a flat fee. The wine match seemed a very good deal, if you are planning on going. The sommelier was excellent and very helpful.
The Service -
The service was pretty good. Because all the staff are Japanese there is an element to japanese formalism in their service. They are friendly and very hospitable and very adept at knowing when to serve and ask questions. They never intruded on conversation. I found the service top notch. The service was very methodical, although I felt they rushed the first few courses, I suspect because we were the only people there and they wanted to get as many courses through before other people arrived.
The room and everything else-
I the room was nice, the dining spaces were relatively private and this was nice. The music and space though have a particular japanese sensibility. I think to a western eye we might see it as a little on the cheesey side. I personally have no problem with it, but in a country where we are generally not known for our formalism, I think this side of things stick out. I don’t think it is a bad thing mind you.
I loved the meal. It is interesting to reflect on it. I woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to reflect upon each dish. Overall I felt the menu was challenging and took no prisoners. It had a definite goal in mind and was going to take you kicking and screaming to the end. It was emotional and powerful food. As an example to illustrate this point, the food was almost always served on what we might think of as the cold side. Many of the dishes were cold and those that were hot, were generally not that hot. Now this might seem like a problem, but food served not hot, has (to our senses at least) more flavour. Our palate is able to better recognise all the flavours. This I think is better for the food, but often hard if you aren’t used it. Some of flavour combinations, especially in the scallops for example were challenging. Everything tended to be served raw in the centre, this again is challenging for a western palate. The desserts, I think though were probably the easiest to appreciate in this sense. Anyway it didn’t pull many punches.
The food though was not quite like anything I’ve had before, probably the most similar experience I could point to is Coi in San Francisco, but Kazuya leaned on classical French cuisine more and less on California cuisine. It certainly sits apart from the comparable restaurants in Auckland like The French Cafe, Sidart, Merediths, etc… I loved that it wasn’t pandering too much to the need for meat, almost the entire meal was seafood and vegetables, with only the wagyu placating the red meat eaters. What I enjoyed most was that it was a meal I could think about, with layers flavour and in some ways meaning. I’ve had two very good meals in the last few months, one at O’connell Street Bistro and one at Kazuya.They are quite different restaurants. In some ways the food at O’connell street was more flawlessly cooked (although Kazuya was nothing to be scoffed at), but I would much rather go to Kazuya.
It is worth noting that it isn’t all about the food. The whole experience was wonderful. The wine matching, service and sheer generosity of spirit displayed at Kazuya is not to be under appreciated. While Such a meal is expensive, it was also extremely generous, from the wine pours to the amount of cheese, to the little touches (sending us home with gifts). Everything felt very reasonably priced for what you got and the attention to detail was great. In the end it is a meal I have continued to reflect upon and for me that is a good sign. It was a pleasure to eat there and I hope it will continue to improve. I strongly recommend saving your pennies and going if you can.
Kazuya was FANTASTIC! From the warm greeting on our arrival to the final delicious mouthful, my partner and I had a smiles on our faces. The service was just right, the presentation and flavour of the food was spot on. Loved it.
I recommend this place unreservedly. We will be back.
My wife and I came here last night for dinner, to celebrate her 30th birthday.
Amazing. We consider ourselves foodies, and are fans of Clooney, Sidart and Merediths. Kazuya is up there with the best of them.
The food was creative, fun, and delicious. The service and atmosphere were great.
We both had the 7 course tasting menu, and loved it. Especially the scallop dish, and the ‘Texture’ dish. I’ve never had so much fun eating a salad!
It was a lovely evening, and will definitely return. What we got, food, drink and enjoyment, was incredible value. Highly recommended, just make sure you go with an open mind.
Thanks for an amazing night, Kazuya!!!
I’ve heard KAZUYA’s great reputations by word of mouth,so we’ve visited there as a couple lately. The food was exceptional, every single dish or bite was just amazing. I can’t express my fabulous experiences well. Just “Seeing is believing”, I strongly recommend to book this restaurant for a special occasion, then you will know how wonderful they are!
Probably one of the best I’ve ever been to in NZ.
I look forward to visiting there soon again.
5 of us dined on the 5 course tasting plates. Absolutely fantastic, the food fabulous, and the service we could not fault either. Every attention to detail was met. It’s worth the $65 each. Would love to eat that all over again.
came in with my wife for our anniversary – wow can honestly say one of the best meals we have had in a long long time. we had the 7 course set menu and the attention to detail, the subtlety of the textures/flavors and the obvious amount of thought and care that had gone into the design and preparation of each dish was refreshing. An interesting mixture of Japanese/French elements and highly recommended. Service was just right too, highly recommended for a special occasion
Kazuya Restaurant on Auckland’s Symonds Street is Auckland latest addition to fine dining. The surroundings are intimate and elegant. There are three main styles of menu selection. A five or seven course degustation menu or a small seasonal a la carte selection. Chef Kazuya, serves contemporary European cuisine, with influences of Japanese and Italian. One of the dishes ‘Texture’ is a tasting plate featuring over 30 styles of vegetables and is gorgeous. The wine list is extensive with a strong French influence. The degustation menus are the way to go. Matched with hand selected wines from Somellier/Manager MOJO, this is an amazing evenings dining. Kazuya is possibly Auckland’s top intimate fine dining experience.
I enjoyed my visit to Kazuya. I had three course lunch to savor a splurge, and their food and service are deserve to!
The food is European cuisine, tastes great and and set-out is absolutely gorgeous.
I really like rice bread served with the course, that was baked in the kitchen.
I’m sure I’ll visit Kazuya again.
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