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Sake Bar Nippon Restaurant

4_half star rating 28 reviews

Telephone 09-630 2511

413-415 Manukau Rd
Auckland City

Japanese, Salads, Sushi, Asian
Mon - Sun 6pm - Midnight
Karaoke Party Time! Authentic Japanese with a bit of Karaoke thrown in at no cost!

Celebrate your special occasions with us in our function room upstairs.
Karaoke facilities available by arrangement at no...

Announced 1 year ago
Provided by business


Sake Bar Nippon has been in Epsom for 12 years and is regarded as one of Auckland’s most authentic Japanese restaurants. ~~ Our Japanese chefs aim is to delight and excite your eyes, your ears, your nose and your palate with an experience you won’t forget. Be warned! You will likely crave more. ~~ We specialise in tasty, delicious, mouth-watering selections of Japans finest and favourite dishes. Sashimi, sushi, tempura and teppanyaki. FUNCTIONS: Our traditional zashiki room is a fantastic choice for your next function, celebration, gathering. Group bookings are available for up to 50 people and karaoke is provided for your entertainment at no extra cost. Although not essential, bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment. And if you wish to book for a time within the next 24 hours, please phone us (instead of using email or online). Welcome, relax and enjoy with us.


Photo of Sake Bar Nippon Restaurant
Kitchen & Salads
Sushi & Sashimi
Teppan & Grill

More Information

Free On-Street
Price Range:
Moderate, $15 - $25
Smart casual
Good For Groups:
Good For Children:
Spirits, Beer, Wine, Cocktails
Wheelchair Accessible:
Takes Reservations:
Dietary Restrictions:
Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-free
Meals Served:
Payment Types:
EFTPOS, Visa, MasterCard

Reviews for Sake Bar Nippon Restaurant

5 star rating
by Jan
3rd June 2014

Fantastic meal for 9 after the movies . Fast & efficient. Staff super friendly ! Well priced including a basic wine and beer list .Booking essential. We booked through MenuMania and the restaurant confirmed our booking by email the next morning. A yummy tasty meal. Perfect for sharing. We will be back. !!

5 star rating
by Arrianna M.
2nd May 2014

Loved this place. We booked for a party of 20 people and they were very accommodating. No one had been there before and everyone absolutely loved it. Very few people in our party had even tried Japanese cuisine (except for sushi) so this was a great experience. Great lively atmosphere. We love the drum that announces arrivals and departures. The staff were so lovely. Very tasty food. My only constructive feed-back is that we were seated in an area where our shoes had to be removed. Some of the guys had come straight from work so their feet smelled rather funky. Perhaps an option to wash feet if seated in this area? Also, portions are rather small and I’m not a big eater so be prepared to order 4 – 5 dishes. Can’t wait to go back again.

4 star rating
by Katy T.
6th March 2014

Absolute favourite of mine from when I lived in Epsom a few years back. Was always a fab place to go with a group of friends to drink, eat and chat (and sing, if we drink too much). Moved out of town 18months ago but excited to be going back with 2 friends (who haven’t been before) tomorrow night. Will adjust rating accordingly soon :)

Food & service are both great! I cant wait to go back

5 star rating
by Ronnie C.
25th January 2014

Excellent food, excellent atmosphere, friendly and helpful staff. Good venue for big groups and parties.
I can always rely on this restaurant for quality authentic Japanese food and service. Prices are reasonable as well.
Strongly recommended!!!!

4 star rating
by Amanda C.
27th August 2013

My husband and I like the food offered. We have tried most of the items on the menu. It is always good and consistent, plus attentive service.
I have rated 4 stars as I believe there is always room for improvement.

5 star rating
by Michelle B.
17th June 2013

Wow!!!!! My partner and I were really impressed with this place, food came out quickly, service was amazing, the friendliest I have had in a long time, can not speak highly enough of this place, this is our new local!

1 star rating
by Michelle w.
24th May 2013

Terrible. We were in a large group. Service was terrible. Food cold and oily. We were there for an hour waiting for first course of a set menu. Drinks didn’t arrive, portions were badly estimated. We left hungry. Will not be back!

5 star rating
by Andrew T.
18th March 2013

This is an amazing restaurant with a menu to suit any taste. We went with our kids and it’s a great family occasion. The Teriyaki Chicken is to die for! It’s a consistently good dining experience and great prices. The service is friendly and fast.

5 star rating
by Gus
15th March 2013

I love this place. The restaurant has a lovely cosy feel, my favourite spot is on the counter where you can watch the magic being made. The sushi and sashimi are decent but the real stars are the grilled dishes. Some edamame to start then into favourites such as the grilled Hapuka wings, prawn mayo, pork skewers all washed down with sake or cold Japanese beer. Run don’t walk, you won’t be disappointed. I never am ;)

5 star rating
by Ira R.
15th March 2013

I have been to quite a few Japanese restaurants in and around Auckland and I can honestly say the food doesn’t quite measure up to the taste and presentation of what I have experienced at both Sake Bar Epsom and Sake Bar Takapuna. I don’t drink alcohol but they have a great selection of Japanese beers & Sake (everybody’s favourite), red & white wine and also non alcoholic drinks for people like me…
My favourite dishes are Oyster & Mussell Mayo, all Tempura, Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Karage to name a few… and for the vegetarian you can’t go past the steamed broccoli with their special mouth watering sauce. All I can say is you have to try it out for yourself….

4 star rating
by NomNomPanda
1st February 2013

Casual and welcoming ambience (they bang on the drums and call out when you come in and out too), large menu, and it’s always entertaining watching the chefs at the teppanyaki, especially when they need to adjust the heat partway through by pulling out pliers. Sushi possibly not the freshest, but most dishes we tried had good flavours.

3 star rating
by EarnesTaster
29th October 2012

Part I- You may make all sorts of friends in Auckland but a denizen of it soon realizes that the weather will never be his pal. It is more fickle than most chicks in this land. At the height of this year’s particularly intemperate winter, when I was searching for a stalwart bar, I came upon Sakebar Nippon in Epsom. And a batch of warm tidings soon came into my receipt.Their drinks menu has eclectic variety and economical prices- both hot and cold sake are presented in mild,medium and very dry varieties. Shochu (Japanese vodka at 25% alcohol) ,plum wine and various fruit-based non-alcoholic drinks round out the quaffing section.

The food menu has commendable variety, listing dozens of both meat-based and vegetarian dishes that comprise mostly entrees and mains, and a much smaller dessert section.
For my first “sauced” meal, I sought privacy at a corner table tucked into the far end of this joint, but soon realized that the counter-side seats were the the hub of a hubbub which was steadily proving to be rather appealing. However, I was solaced by the fact that most of the dishes I ordered during that visit were above average.
A roasted whole Mackerel for $12 was seasoned with restraint and keenly revealed its piscine edge- it is better suited for serious seafood aficionados. Deep fried chunks of chicken (Karaage) were excellent bite-size morsels- delightfully crisp, not overly oily ,with its finely spiced coating that ensconced soft meat. As that evening and crowd were drawing to an ebb, and the previously hassled waitresses now had much more leisure, my service did not suffer.
The Pork skewers at $7 for a duo were a excellent deal -2 snappily rendered pieces of these were a pleasure to chew on and savour as they spunkily released their carnal flavours and slid down the palate. The same accolades cannot however be bestowed on their ginger-stirfried counterparts which slipped more into the category of regulation bar-food that calls little attention to itself.

150ml of hot sake (it was winter) at $12 ably manages to massage your cockles and whet the appetite. It has a fermented tinge to it,which many people soon get used to. When you’re seated counter-side, it is more interesting to watch the preparation of the Fried Rice – an omelette created and chopped into the rice,prawns and veg-gobbets which are all tossed and coaxed into a snug boat-shaped hillock -rather than eat it. A famished mouth might wolf that Asian archetype down here, but more watchful palates will likely employ considerably less gusto .My dessert ,served with two slices of that Japanese meal-ending favorite -grapefruit- was green tea ice-cream whose flavours spoke in whispers that did not inveigle..But on the whole, I was satisfied on finding this robustly run bar that provides good kick for money.And then there are the goofy frills- Many a time, whenever customers enter or leave this joint, the staff ,time and inclination permitting, will yell in Japanese while pounding on a drum to express a kind of jolly primal appreciation for your patronship. It’s a welcome atavistic send-off compared to ‘see ya later mate’…;)

Part II – (There is no provision here for a separate review of the same place from the same author)- Visits after the first one were sobering,despite the Shochu and counter-side seating. Familiarity and proximity often breed attenuation if not contempt. My full-time hostess this time was the pretty rarely glimpsed girl from the last visit- she still exuded dulcet appeal but the throb in my gaze was gone. For first course,I ordered whole squid. Right in front of me, the chef fished out a specimen from the supplies and placed it on the grill. The length-wise body,crested by the fanned-out fin, along with a separate cut of tentacles was patiently roasted,then diced spiffily and presented with mayo and a wedge of lemon. The squid’s flavour alas was undiscernible; most of the marine seductive innocence had been grilled right out of it.It was flecked by a caramelized broth which oozed notes of little consequence.

More entertaining again was the field of my vision beyond the plate,rather than the sensation on my tongue. The night for the restaurant was petering to a close, but I still got to witness interesting sights like the chef using a blow torch to scorch scallops topped with melting dollops of mayonnaise, before easing them onto a plate for the scallop mayo appetizer. Umpteen orders for “saikoro beef”, were coolly executed- the orange of the carrots contrasted against the green of the beans as classic Nipppon accompaniments to a hunk of beef neatly roasted & steadily chopped into chunks. I was most fascinated on seeing a big roasting skillet that had hemispherical hollows in which seafood-stuffed dumplings were sizzling. These are called Takoyaki- from a distance at least,they bear identical resemblance to Appo -rice cakes that are roasted in similar vessels and served in South Karnataka cuisine to great effect with chutneys. I ordered prawn Takoyaki- half a dozen of these dumplings were tucked snugly onto a compact plate, drizzled with laces of mayo-soy and finally sprinkled with bonito flakes that did a enchanted dance as steam tickled them from underneath. The interior of these steamed spheres however is semi-liquid and thus stays frustratingly extra-hot for a long time. Anyway,these mimicked a savoury custard that is softly ripe with umami- upon biting into these orbs, the mouth fills with a moist savoury fullness that eventually peaks with the crisp succulence of prawns.’Twas worth ordering. Prawn tempura was middling- flavourful pizazz eluded it. The date pudding – a sphere straddling the texture between custard and cake- was served with ice-cream and fruits -it will make a student pass but will condemn a super-chef to flunk his last-quarter exams.

As a experience-concluding order, I asked for roasted Eel hoping that an elite rendition of this Japanese special would enable me to slip away with happy memories in the end,but I was informed that supplies of this had slid away from the kitchen’s stores.But who knew- perhaps a snappy spiffy Gyoza might honourable round out the day so this became the final order. A surfeit of salt proved to be the final spoiler -the gentle equilibrium between the roasted encasing and the filling of shredded chicken-’n'-cabbage was undone by overdone seasoning. The seasons of my multifarious meal here thus assumed a sobering rise and fall of taste,notwithstanding the constant companionship of hot sake. Service – when the place has few patrons (which is not often) you may expect reasonable vigilance but when the place is packed to the gills (which is often) the two waitresses swim about busily trying to mitigate the tide of orders while attention to customers is shot to bits. Long waits can consequently ensue. But an unexpected advantage of counter-side seating is that while you wait for the waitresses ,the chef unexpectedly reaches across the partition and directly presents you the dish you were waiting for! Flavours- ajinomoto is freely relied on, and mayonnaise and soy sauce are slipped in wherever possible.

Ambience – Red spherical lanterns, plenty of inscribed Japanese alphabets, a Japanese TV channel (that nobody cares to watch, mute as it is),ethnic vocals and oriental instruments piped in through the speakers, wood which comprises the seats tables walls and even partitions betweens the booths all assiduously build a native quiddity that is persuasive in its far-away appeal. This redolent detailed ambience and the immediacy of the counter-side seating enhance the appeal of this Izakaya’s wide roster of dishes that are steadily despatched to cater to its abundant clientile.What it lacks in excellence it makes up for by way of workmanlike competence in banging out 80 different dishes listed on its menu – a refreshing alternative compared to so many conventional NZ bars in which the menu is a restricted stock set often run over by fried items. Besides, if you still want your senses to be blown away here,you can always count on the back-to-back bottoms-up of half a dozen Shochu shots.

4 star rating
by Tony M.
19th October 2012

Service: 4/5
Wait time: 4/5
Environment: 4/5
Food Quality and taste: 4/5
Price range: $50+ pp
[Very close to where I live but usually go for beers, food isn't bad but doesn't make me crave for it afterwards]

4 star rating
by David B.
11th August 2012

A great fun place to head to if you are a small group. The food is all good and generally the service is quick unless they are really busy. Its not a place for a romantic meal.

You may have to wait, but it is worth it.

5 star rating
by Annalisa F.
16th July 2012

I have been going to this restaurant for a while now and took two friends with me. We all loved it and I think that the service has become speedier and the waiting staff are extremely friendly and helpful. The food, as usual, fabulous and the atmosphere superb. A real asset for Auckland.

3 star rating
by chia80
26th June 2012

The place was okay my main complaint was the lack of understanding (language barrier) I had to reorder and repeat my order 3 times. I do understand it is a Japanese sake bar but most of the customers were not and would’ve been better to have a mix of wait staff that understood english. The food was good and the beverages were good but we got given food we did’nt ask for but we were just got tired of going no you got it wrong again…..I think I would’ve enjoyed it if the wait staff just got the orders correct.

4 star rating
by Hannah
13th January 2012

Have been to Sake Bar Nippon several times and it never disappoints. The first time was 4 years ago and every time since the food has been lovely. I really enjoy the tapas style of getting loads of dishes for every one to try. The service is quick and there is always a great atmosphere. Great place to catch up with friends.

4 star rating
by Marie H.
10th October 2011

I celebrate my birthday here and i would definitely do it again. The food was very good, very authentic and great variety.


5 star rating
by Karina W.
7th October 2011

I came here with my friend who’s a regular and it was amazing. My first time having authentic Japanese and I was very impressed!! We ordered a couple of dishes including the squid balls, yakisobu, tataki, seaweed salad and a couple of other things which were ALL delicious. Oh and the plum wine is a must try, along with sake! The atmosphere is so nice and the staff are all very welcoming, I’m definitely going to go back!!

5 star rating
by Sue C.
28th August 2011

This is our regular for great casual Japanese food. Very genuine, very busy, very noisy. Always full of patrons from the Lido theatre next door, either before or after sessions; also popular with locals and staff from businesses in the area. Service is not traditional european style with entrees followed by a main dish. It is a tapas style service – lots of entree sized plates arrive as they are prepared, to be shared if desired. Can be chaotic but always fun. Try the warm spinach & bacon salad with the teppan grilled steak. Delicious!

4 star rating
by Kelsie S.
26th August 2011

Yum Yum Yum food and such a great experience…banging of gongs and sitting on pillows to eat. Felt authentic and tasted great. Our food took a little while to arrive but seeing as there was a large group of us this was understandable. Good Stuff

5 star rating
by Kate a.
20th July 2011

We had a joint birthday celebration here on a Sat night and it was awesome! We were a party of 19 and they put us in the room upstairs where we did a $35 set menu and had karaoke for free! The food just kept coming and coming, and was all really yummy. They had a fantastic tab system for people to allocate their drinks too i.e. John and Paula = 1, so you just said ’1′ when you wanted to order, and so your bill was just for what you had. Then a man came up and set up the karaoke and we had a hilarious time singing until about 11:30pm!! Will be back to eat the food as a smaller group, and also recommend this to anyone wanting a fab and unique birthday/celebration out.

4 star rating
by jan
18th October 2009

We went on a cold, rainy, Thursday night, and still it was booked out !!! they kindly fitted us in as long as we could be out by a certain time. Moral of this story is, always book. It is definitely geared up for the Asian customer, with language being a slight problem, however, we managed to fumble our way through, until a female staff member spent some time with us and explained the menu.
Having said all of the above, the atmosphere and the food was just great, rushed, but great.
We have been to many Japanese Restaurants overseas,but this one is unique, you must experience it yourself.
They could do with a better extractor fan, the cooking smells seem to linger.
Would we go again ???? yes ! just need to brush up on our Japanese LOL

5 star rating
by Anna
1st July 2009

I have lived in Japan and this is about as close to authentic Japanese cuisine I have found in Auckland. Ichi-ban! Number one!

5 star rating
by stephanie
15th June 2009

a wonderful way to enter japan in the middle of auckland. fantastic service and atmosphere, perfect authentic food at a very reasonable price, always a favourite!! only downside is no byo but that is my only complaint!!

5 star rating
by Mitch B
8th May 2009

You know sometimes you find a jewel and the world needs to hear about it. Drum beats welcomed my 7 yr old and I in to the restaurant, and we were seated at the “bar” which basically overlooks the kitchen. Watching your own food cook is a treat in itself, but watching the chef’s artistry was a pleasure and my son thought it was amazing. On to the food, we had a bit of everything, too numerous to mention, but from the Daikon to the Karage, it was just perfection. The bill made me laugh it was so light, and we were farewelled with more drums. We’ll be back soon, and so should you.

4 star rating
by Angus
23rd March 2009

Fantastic little Japanese eatery. Great atmosphere, competent service and very reasonable value for money – we ate there Saturday night and had a range of dishes (including edamame, chicken karage, steak, noodles, yakatori and I particularly recommend the okonomyaki – only place I’ve found in Auckland that does it) plus a drink each, all for $98.50 for four. It’s always seems to be busy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday so pays to book ahead on these days.

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